Q: Greg, I know Chrysler-Dodge-Plymouth is Mopar, but what does Mopar really stand for, if anything?
Also, what Mopar do you feel established the name in the muscle car era and which one is best for collecting?
Abraham K., email from Kentucky.
A: Abraham, Mopar stands for "MOtor PARts," and specifically only authorized Chrysler-Dodge-Plymouth-Imperial-DeSoto Motor Parts that were available at all Chrysler Corporation dealers.
Mopar is still the parts and marketing arm of Chrysler, and the term has been in use since the early 1920s.
Along the way, however, Mopar became the performance car enthusiast's lingo for any Chrysler produced vehicle that could "get up and go."
Of course, since the day Mopar was introduced as a "word," it's become known as Dodge and Plymouth cars more so than Motor Parts. Specifically, the Dodge wedge and 426 Hemi powered Darts, Super Bees, Chargers and R/T's and corresponding Plymouth Dusters, GTXs, Roadrunners, Belvederes and the such all became known as Mopars.
My favorite Mopar? Even though I owned a 67 GTX 440 "B5 blue" coupe, I still remember the day back in 1962 when Dodge and Plymouth introduced the 410-horsepower cross ram 2-4 barrel 413-inch wedge engine in the Dart and Savoy line, respectively. This soon became the 426 Max Wedge, and then grew to the 440.
It became the first "super stock" car to run in the 11-second range in the quarter mile, as Tom Grove drove a 413 Plymouth sponsored by Melrose Motors to an 11.93 at 118-mph in the quarter-mile I believe at Half Moon Bay drag strip in California in July of 1962. That's my favorite Mopar, in either Plymouth or Dodge dress.
Of course, if I could own just one from strictly a collector standpoint, it would be a 426 Hemi Challenger or 'Cuda, convertible or coupe, circa 1970. That would easily take care of my retirement concerns.