Well, do you know what does the MoPar mean? No sweat: it is an abbreviation of Motor Parts (now commonly used with lowercase 'p', by the by), thought up in fifties or so to emphasize the fact Chrysler, Dodge, and Plymouth are in fact all cars from one manufacturer (and with many interchangeable parts). Hence, MoPar means some of the nicest cars at all–of course, judged by my personal biased opinion ;). Not that other haven't made pretty ones, too–the Chevy Suburban, for one, is just great, and there is any number of absolutely marvellous British cars I would just love to drive, from those MGs to Aston Martins, and, of course, the sexiest car of all times, Jaguar E-type, not speaking of the crème de la crème, the top-luxury saloon able to run circles around any SUV in any terrain, the marvellous Range Rover...
But all the same, MoPar is, well, MoPar.
Surely, you can see many tamed MoPars now–mostly Chryslers; but the best ones were those real cruisers from seventies, or before. After that, the cars gradually became smaller, more, if I can say it, European. Not bad, but not that distinctive.
My first MoPar
It's anybody's guess what now: whilst a bit difficult to find (and to ride) a true cruiser here in middle of Europe (with the clumsy european idea that something of three cylinders and around a litre capacity could be called an engine), I had the luck to find one of them: in 1975, at Lynch Road, Detroit, Michigan assembly plant, they have made car for me: a Plymouth Fury Suburban station wagon. Well, let's have a look:
Wasn't she a beauty? For those who don't know the great Furys (mind you, this is a mid size truck, the really big ones were called from '75 on Gran Furys): she was roughly 5.5 metres long (218") and two wide (80"); the wheelbase is almost 3m (118"). Ample room inside, you bet–great for me with my 6' 3", just the very car for a comfortable ride.
Alas, there were some slight problems; one of them was the paint: it was pretty worn out–not the original paint at the top, it was just great, but the doors were repainted here, and the result was, I regret to say, lousy:
Have a look at the rear door!
Another problem–a bigger one, literally–sat under the bonnet. It was the engine: a good old 6.1 litre V8 of course, but, unfortunately, it was not the Plymouth original one (incidentally, a 5.9 V8). This one was an engine of the Russian made GAZ Chaika, of all vehicles! This proved virtually unsolvable (there was the same problem with the tranny, which, of course, was from Chaika as well). Although even the Russian engine did not look half bad...
... eventually I had to accept the fact the effort (and money) needed to replace it altogether would be kind of prohibitive. That was the main reason I had sold the rig.
Now, in case you happen not to know this: the Fury wagons were eight-seaters, three, three and two at the collapsible back seats, faced backwards. That's me on the following picture; you can appreciate the rear door, which, if opened, adds almost two metres, making the rig a good block even for a eight metres wide road:
Incidentally, the door could be opened as a gate, making me able to move full-size coffins at the back :). No coffin to show you, sorry, but I have another great look here: with both the back rows collapsed, I got a full-size King's bed. No need to convert the rear door, I could sleep well (and not alone at that :)) even in a closed car, even if she was running:
Well, a great car she was! Alas, eventually I had to switch to a newer rig: of course, a MoPar again!
Luckily, even though I had to reluctantly part with the lovely Fury, I was able to get myself another great rig: a real rugged no-nonsense Dodge RamCharger AD150, made for me at Lago Alberto in 1986.
Another beauty, I'd say! Whilst a bit on the short side–compared with Fury, that is–she allows for a great comfortable ride thanks to the width and height: there's ample space inside even for my bulk.
Also, I've always liked these rigs: ages ago I've seen a RamCharger in some Chuck Norris movie (well it is twenty-odd years now and I cannot recall it cleanly, I believe it was the "Lone Wolf McQade"); although the movie itself was hardly a masterpiece, I sort of fell in love with the car. Much much later I have learnt it was a RamCharger, and from the moment on I wanted one...
Ubicumque dulce est, ibi et acidum invenies: it is, alas, just a two wheel drive. I would much rather have the 4WD one; on the other hand, I have to admit the better mileage of the 2WD does not harm either: those 4WD RamChargers were notoriously thirsty, and here in Central Europe the petrol is not exactly cheap.
One of drawbacks of the (relatively) short body is that the RamCharger is just a four-seater: no more taking two complete families to holiday, as Fury could. On the other hand, the cargo space is, well, a space indeed: the width and height of the car makes it possible to put a number of bikes inside–and still some place remains. I have no photo of that, but perhaps this one can give you a feeling of the spacious back:
Unlike the poor Fury, this rig was in a pretty original state: no parts have been canniballed out (well, no important ones–about the only thing which disappeared and was replaced by a new one is the tuner). With the summers here getting each year hotter and hotter, the fact the A/C is there and works great is pretty important, too. This is what you see inside:
There is ample power under the bonnet: the original unchanged 318 (5.2 litre) with the Carter 2bl carb works great and can move the roughly 2-tons truck with a supriseable ability. And it has never let me down (alas the tranny did).
Well, the RamCharger was definitely a joy to drive. If you need to haul something bulky or heavy, she can do it. Although "only" a 2WD, even on a rough surface the rig performs quite well: you remember the floods in Czech Republic in the 2002 summer? The wet soil caused some trees to fall here, one of them right across the road: my reliable RamCharger just went over it, no problem at all.
Two more photos perhaps? This is what she looks like at home:
Even on winter, when there tends to be a lot of snow and ice on roads here RamCharger, strangely enough for a rear-drive vehicle having wide tyres and a light back, went like a charm. One day, I would really like to see what those 4WD RamChargers could do if they half try...
Eventually though I began drive much more, and the comparatively rough and slow ride of RamCharger began to be somewhat a problem. Also, the rig began collecting rust, and I, triple alas, have no space (and little time) to do all the appropriate work myself. Thus, very reluctantly I have parted with her: making sure, of course, the new owner would take better care!
I needed to roll on, of course... to which end I've got a nice Volvo 760.