by David Zatz
In July 2011, the National Chrysler Products Club held its 33rd annual meet in Lahaska, Pennsylvania. The first two days included local tours, banquets, and social events; the third day had a large car show open to the public, culminating in an awards banquet.
The show portion of the meet filled the site, a large field in Peddlers’ Village, with well over a hundred cars signed and showing. Pulling in at just before 10 am, our 1974 Valiant was assigned to the 1970s section, close to a 1974 Plymouth Scamp improbably painted the same color. The range of cars was from 1924 to 2011, with John Stamberg’s 1924 Chrysler anchoring the ancients.
No less than 155 cars were displayed on the show field, from brass era to current, pedestrian to muscle; and 101 people attended the awards banquet. Overall, around 325 members attended the three-day event; while there was no way to be certain of the number of spectators, a conservative estimate would be a hundred.
The variety of cars was once again surprising, with more variety than in a typical Mopar meet, where muscle cars dominate and things seem to start in the 1960s. The NCPC meet provided a gradual, even progression from the 1920s onwards, at least in terms of cars; there weren't many trucks (the 2009 meet seemed to attract more 1950s pickups).
One draw was Chrysler president and board chair K.T. Keller’s own car, a customized Imperial in pristine condition. The 1955 car was the only Imperial convertible built by Chrysler between 1951 and 1957, and has an experimental VIN, wraparound windshield, two-way rear view mirror, custom leather upholstery, and hundreds of one-off castings and hand-fabricated parts. The car, which took nearly a year to complete, was the first American convertible with four bucket seats, and the first finned car made by Chrysler.
The tone of the meet was informal and people wandered and talked in small groups. Judges had a detailed specification sheet to fill out in their categories, and hoods and trunks had to be left up; fire extinguishers also had to be seen (most of them were put under the front driver’s-side tire). We found no shortage of people to pass the time with, and the atmosphere was a little more collegial than at some other meets. Many of the people attending were staying at the local hotel — even the locals — in order to be in on all the events of the weekend. The show was one event among many.
The “Prestige” class, including at least one Concours d’Elegance winner, was ranged around the perimeter of the event to draw in tourists and passers-by. This included numerous pristine cars of the 1930s; many were repeats from 2009.
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