Mopar owners open car show season

Shelby Township — Taking a chance on spring, members of the North Oakland Mopar Muscle Club circled April 26 on their calendars and staged the club’s annual meet for what could have been a cold, wet day.

Owners responded by registering 150 vehicles. Many sat in the sunshine with their cars to greet visitors to the show at the historic Packard Proving Grounds here.

As ever, the stories of finding and restoring cars of interest were abundant. Several owners had long histories of putting older vehicles back on the road, often working long hours only to sell the finished product and set off in search of another project.

“My wife picked this one out on Ebay,” said John Scobie, pointing to his bright-blue 1939 Plymouth P7 “Road King.”

“She wants me to hold onto it,” said Scobie, of Ray, Mich., who recently sold a 1957 Ford Fairlane, which he had equipped with a 351 V-8.

>> More photos from the North Oakland Mopar Muscle Club show

That car, he said, was bought by a woman as a gift for her father, who later called to complain about the Ford.

“I had explained its problems to her: the steering was no good and the shifter had to be lifted and maneuvered,” he said. “But it was a driver – I guarantee a car I sell will drive anywhere. I called her after the sale to be sure she got home safely. That was a powerful car.”

Chris Plovie of Roseville was showing his stunning black 1970 Dodge Challenger R/T with 383-inch powerplant.

Plovie said he has owned the coupe for 13 years, buying it before he even had a garage for it. It had been a kid’s car. There were newspapers scattered in the back seat. It needed work.

“When I got a place with a garage, the car sat there for five years before I began to work on it,” Plovie admitted, noting his next project is to perfect the pin striping.

The red 1968 Plymouth Barracuda owned by Bob LeFevre of Garden City came up from Mississippi to LeFevre’s garage by way of Jackson, Mich. Already familiar with the car from working on it for others, LeFevre finally bought it last August.

LeFevre’s Barracuda boasts a 360-inch engine. The car has 11,000 original miles on it, he said. He likes to point out the metal plate on the dashboard where a radio should be. A radio was a delete option that year, he said. Whoever ordered this car new wanted air conditioning but no radio. Makes no sense, he said.

A purple 1937 Dodge D5 coupe from Ionia, Mich. featured a backup camera and tiny video screen at the bottom of the dash. The street rod, owned by Dale and Phyllis Highlen, has a Corvette 350 engine under its center-hinged hood.

“I put chrome on the engine,” said Dale Highlen, who bought the car in 2009 from the estate of his late brother-in-law. Highlen installed a new interior in addition to the high-tech safety and comfort options. He didn’t change the exterior. “It was purple when we got it. That’s my wife’s favorite color,” he said.

Another Barracuda owner, Tim Mikolajczyk of Warren, turned the restoration of his 1968 model over to Motor City Steel in Commerce Township several years ago. One of his many personal touches in the sport coupe: the interior’s ostrich-skin-line seat covers and headrests with tiny embroidered barracudas.

Most owners at the April meet were members of the North Oakland Mopar Muscle club. With about 100 members, the club been around for over 20 years, said Tom Nash of Sterling Heights, a specialty car owner and event volunteer. The spring show is the group’s only annual solo event and tends to kick off the car show season in southeast Michigan.