19th Annual Belvidere Mopar Happening and Swap Meet

The Chicagoland Mopar Connection-Rock Valley Chapter presented the 19th Annual Belvidere Mopar Happening at the Boone County Fairgrounds in Belvidere, Illinois, on July 18 and 19, 2009. There were shows and swap meets both days, and two Allpar correspondents on the scene.


Belvidere, Illinois, the former “Home of the Neon,” now home to the Caliber, Patriot, and Compass, has also been home to the Belvidere Mopar Happening for the last 19 years.

Belvidere plant

The show was started by the Rock Valley chapter of the Chicagoland Mopar Connection car club back in 1991. Originally held at the Belvidere Chrysler plant, in 2002 the show transformed into 2 day event and moved just up the road to the Boone Country Fairgrounds. The show has grown from 107 vehicles in its first year, to around 500 vehicles at its peak.


Despite tough economic times, the show attracted nearly 300 vehicles this year. Mopars from all over the country came out to participate in the weekends activities. Saturday morning started off with a choice between the show and shine/swap meet at the Boone County Fairgrounds, or drag racing at Byron Dragway, just 30 minutes to the west in Byron Illinois.

chrysler sebring on drag strip

Those who weren't afraid to prove their beloved Mopars are more than just show, displayed their go from 10 AM to 3 PM at the Byron Dragway. Two full lanes were dedicated to Mopars, everything from daily drivers, to classic cruisers, and all out drag cars. Some highlights included “Old School” vs “New School” matchups, pitching old Challenger vs new Challenger, and Classic V8 RWD Mopars vs modern 4 cylinder FWD Turbo Mopars. The track announcer and the crowd just couldn’t get enough Mopar!

cars waiting to drag

Saturday evening kicked off with a Cruise Night starting at Belvidere Motors on State Street in Belvidere Illinois, and ending at Anderson Dodge on State Street in Rockford Illinois. A good 20 to 30 cars ranging from classics, to muscle cars, to modern Mopar made the cruise through the light rain. The weather cleared up as everyone pulled into Anderson Dodge to enjoy food, conversation, and a great display of Mopar.

Sebring launch

Sunday was the main event, the car show. Close to 300 cars attended the show, with 38 classes, 26 for stock cars, and 12 for modified cars. A couple classes had as few as 1 car in them, most had a minimum of 5, and some had over 20. Plaques were awarded for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place in each class, and large trophies were award for Best of Show stock, modified, and truck. Several car clubs attended the show, including members of the Chicago Shelby-Dodge Auto Club.

squads at the Mopar Happening

Muscle cars of the ’60s and ’70s remained the main attraction, but there were plenty of other interesting vehicles to see. A collection of Mopar police cars, a row of customized PT Cruisers, AMC and Jeep vehicles, race cars like the Chi-Town Hustler, and a display of Mr. Norm’s customized Mopars. There certainly was no shortage of great looking or unique Mopar vehicles to admire at this show!

turbo engine

Perhaps one of the most touching aspects of the event, was the continued support of long time sponsor Belvidere Motors. Belvidere Motors sponsored the event yet again this year, even though their dealership was on the list from Chrysler to be closed down. Belvidere Motors has sold only Chrysler brands for the last 40 years, and have always supported events in the local community, including the local YMCA, local churches, and of course the Belvidere Mopar Happening.

muscle cars

If you missed the Belvidere Mopar Happening this year, you'll want to make sure you don’t miss it next year! Next year will be the 20th year, a major milestone for this show, and promises to be the biggest one ever!


The Chicagoland Mopar Connection and the Chicago Shelby Dodge Automobile Club sponsored the 19th Annual Belvidere Mopar Happening held at the home of Chryslers' Belvidere Assembly plant, northwest of Chicago, Illinois.

It was a very pleasant overcast day with many Mopar Fans and Automobiles in attendance. The show, given by is in its 19th consecutive year and on display were hundreds of vehicles. Many years and models were represented including the Plymouth Satellite Convertibles from the ‘70s, to customized 2009 Challengers.

Mopar Happening

Despite the cloudy day, many people attended and many were there to show their cars. I was able to talk with some of the owners about the vehicles that obviously occupied a special place in their hearts. It was not only the tricked out vehicles that were being admired, even my humble 1989 Chrysler Lebaron with the oxidized paint and great interior received more than its share of comments and compliments. It seems that much of it is just caring about the marquee. The people I visited with were friendly and enthusiastic about the club, the show and the cars. Whenever I mentioned the Allpar website, smiles came to faces and nearly everyone I spoke with said they had visited the site, many on a regular basis.

One of my favorite cars of the show belonged to Jackson Simler from Monroe Wisconsin. Mr. Simler purchased the 1993 Blue IROC R/T in the Deep South where it was being used as transportation in the farming fields. The car is now restored and shown around the country, its most recent claim to fame being 2nd in Class at the recent Carlisle Event.

Daytona R/T

The car is one of eight of its kind and the only ’93 IROC R/T with the Sunroof and Louver Combination. It is powered by a 2.2 T3 Turbo Engine with Intercooler and the A-568 5 speed transmission.

Also in attendance were a number of old school drag racing vehicles and an appearance by the Legendary Chi-Town Hustler Funny Car.

Chi-Town Hustler

In the end, I was most interested in the raffle table and the set of 265/75/R16 truck tires being sitting next to it. Just so happened this was the exact size of the balding tires on my Dodge Ram Truck. As I was shelling out the ten dollars for my tickets and suggesting that the other ticket purchasers may want to consider signing up for the bicycle drawing, the competition was ignoring me completely and continuing to fill out tickets. As I sit here at the time of the drawing, looking at the non ringing telephone and out the window at the still bald tires on my truck, it seems that I was the one who needed tickets for that bike.

Regardless, it was a great time and I will look forward to doing it again next year.

— Gary Moore


Gary has been an Allpar.com forum member since 2008 and has contributed to the forums with his technical experiences. Recently Gary has resolved an engine issue with his 1989 Chrysler Lebaron convertible.

1989 Chrysler LeBaron

As you can see this car is worthy of the comments Gary received at his visit to the Chicagoland show. Gary works at the Chryslers Belvidere Assembly facility where he provides his experience in the assembly of our Chrysler cars.

Allpar.com recognizes Gary as an Ambassador of Allpar and thanks him for his contributions.— Bob O’Neill

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