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Confessions of a Self-Professed Mopar Fanatic
(Article from Tallahassee Democrat - June 15, 2003 - By George Penick)

Yes, I am a car nut! You couldn't have picked a better description! I am a 47-year-old accountant who was born into a Chevrolet dealership family, but it was sold way before I was old enough to get into management.

Alas, I never lost the fire! I could identify just about any car that traveled down US Route 60 in my hometown of Huntington, W.Va. when I was 12 years old. I was fortunate to live in a town that had new and used car dealerships all close in, so I frequently rode my bicycle by to check out what was new. I memorized all the names, models, engine/transmission sizes, etc. Hey, I could usually tell what type of car was cruising by just from hearing it!

I started with mini bikes and motorcycles but I purchased a brand new '71 Chevelle Malibu on my 16th birthday. Couldn't wait for the once-a-week drivers test in our small town, I had to trek to the state capital in Charleston where they administered the test every day!

I kept that car about three months because I needed a real hot rod, and found it in the form of a '71 Mustang Mach 1 that had a manual shifter on the floor. Did I tell you it was a total wreck? It was practically brand new, showing less than 10,000 miles, but the top was caved in from a roll over. I went to work for the body shop that had the car part time and soon worked out a deal to trade my Chevelle for the rpaired Mach 1. I learned plenty about car repair, modifying, selling and racing with that Mach 1. That was my start into the auto world, and it hasn't stopped. I recently purchased my fifty ninth car. The last nine have been "Mopars" (motor parts), the slang name for Chrysler cars which include Dodge and Plymouth divisions. I don't profess to be a "brand" person, but I do have a special affection for the Mopars, they held a certain mystique for us impressionable teens with their distinct styling and raw power.

Being knowledgeable and familiar with them makes it a natural to stay with the program. Seems these cars still have a distinct following, and the supply of '60s and '70s muscle cars are getting rather thin. I usually find a fixer-upper, get it into shape, drive/enjoy it a while and then sell it and start over. Five of the last nine have been Plymouth Barracudas, which started production in 1965 (trying to catch up with the '64 Mustang) and ended in '74 with the fuel crisis slowing sales of the genre. My favorites are the mid-generation or '67 to '69 Barracuda coupe models.

I currently own a '68 coupe that sports a potent 340 V8 and four-speed transmission. It's got classic good looks, a wild Chrysler Impact Color (Rallye Green), tremendous sounding exhaust, and roomy bucket seats with console. What it doesn't have is power steering or air conditioning, so if you're in the market for a Muscle car, don't plan on it being a daily driver unless you are ready to sacrifice some of the usual comforts.