The Mopars of Brevard (the MOB) car club held its annual car show and swap meet, Super Swap X, at Wickham County Park in Mebourne Florida on Jan. 24th, 2009. In addition to a car corral, swap vendors, food concessions and an exhibit of model cars, the meet featured celebrity appearances by a famous Pro Stock race car, the 1973 Plymouth Duster known to drag race fans as the “Mopar Missile.”
Ben raced the Missile at Florida drag strips for about ten years before lending it to the Garlits Museum of Drag Racing in Ocala in 1986. In 2008, he took it out of the museum to race again.
(Photo by Andy Caldwell).
One of the car’s builders in 1973, Joe Pappas, came to the meet from his home in Clarkston, Michigan, especially to catch up with the car, which he hadn’t seen since 1974. (Full story)
One of the more unusual vehicles on display was this 1978 two-and-a-half-ton Kaiser-Jeep M-35 A2 truck owned by Frank Furino, a Maaco franchisee in Cocoa, Florida. Furino said painting was actually finished on the truck the day before; but, while he was up early to try to get it ready for the show, he arrived not long before everyone was leaving. Ongoing restoration calls for for brown and black camouflage paint. He purchased the truck in early 2008 at a public auction at Patrick Air Force Base for $3000. It is powered by a Straight-6 Multi-Fuel Diesel.
This 1973 Dodge A-body dragster was built and raced by MOB member Joe Thomas of Titusville, Florida. Technically it’s a sibling to the Mopar Missile. Joe reports best ET of 9.78 in his Mopar Performance powered car, with top speeds consistently around 138 mph, running in Super Pro and Footbrake classes.
Tony Romano, of Suntree in Brevard, customized this 1933 Chrysler Custom Imperial CO convertible. He said it was “a basket case,” when he acquired it towards the end of 2006. The chrome is original, as is the (not shown) rumble seat. The work was done by Charley Butterfield at Buckman’s Auto Care in Melbourne, which is well-known in Brevard County for its custom work and restorations.
Bringing the Imperial back to life included using red leather interior and adding air conditioning. The powertrain is completely modern, including a 360 cid Mopar Performance engine and automatic transmission. Romano said, “I wanted to drive it and enjoy it. I get on the highway and do highway speeds. It handles beautifully.”
This ornate radiator cap was found on the Internet — with a $600 price tag. The paint scheme is not standard, but of the owner’s choice based on some styles of cars of the era.
This 1981 Imperial is owned by Ted and Bev Wozniak; only 12,385 “New Imperials” were made from 1981-1983, selling for $20,988, making it the highest-priced standard auto produced then by a U.S. automaker. This was one of very few painted Day Star Blue with the only Imperial option — a power moonroof ($1,044). The car shown here is powered by a small block Mopar engine with a Torqueflite automatic and 8 1/4 differential; it has a ten point roll cage, custom headers, dual exhausts, four-bar rear suspension, adjustable coilover shocks, and widened, forged Weld Wheels.
MOB registrar Bob Anderson reported that a turnout of 210 show cars at Super Swap 10 exceeded the meet’s 2008 turnout by about 35 cars, confirming that the Brevard County, Florida, event is growing in popularity and participation by car enthusiasts throughout the state.
Super Swap X showcar owners registered as members of 28 clubs -- including 9 Mopar clubs -- located along Florida’s east coast from Jacksonville to West Palm Beach, and westward to Central Florida. The meet is open to cars of all manufacturers. The primary organizers this year were Andy Caldwell and Penny Anderson.
The Mopar Missile Plymouth Duster won 11 of 14 major NHRA Pro Stock events that it entered in 1973. It was designed, built and campaigned by a team of top drag race professionals, including Pappas, and engineers of the Chrysler Corp. Racing Division. Lessons learned in developing the Missile were shared with other builders of Chrysler Pro Stock race cars like Sox & Martin, Dick Landy, Mike Fons and others.
Ben Donhoff of Melbourne owns the Missile. He acquired it 1979, raced it for about ten years at drag strips around Florida, and eventually retired it to the Garlits Museum of Drag Racing in Ocala. In 2008, he took the car out of the museum to race again, with a partner and co-driver, Larry Mayes of Haines City.
Spectators at the meet had the opportunity to look over the Missile and talk with Pappas, Donhoff and Mayes. The three inspired good will in being ready to respond. Perhaps awed by Pappas’s resume, one spectator approached an intermediary to relay a question about the Missile’s Hemi engine. He was immediately introduced to Joe who spent 20 minutes answering the question and sharing his racing experiences in the Northeast.
The MOB has over a hundred members, each owning one or more vehicles under the Chrysler marque or one of its subsidiaries (Desoto, Dodge, Plymouth, Jeep, AMC, etc.). There were more than 30 vehicles in the members area of the park grounds.
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