Mopar's Big Four 75th Birthday Presents
By Thom Cannell Senior Editor
Steve Purdy Detroit Editor
The Auto Channel
Celebrating the brand’s 75th anniversary a group of
journalists and enthusiasts gathered at the Mopar Accessory and Performance
Lab in Centerline, Michigan last week for a sneak peek of four Mopar
branded vehicles to be introduced at the Chicago Auto Show. As a bonus
‘Big Daddy’ Don Garlits, the most famous drag racer of them all
and Mopar partisan, was there to cut the anniversary cake and tout those
It took Pietro Gorlier, president and CEO of Chrysler LLC’s
Mopar division, just moments to deliver four stunningly hot, desirable,
affordable cars last Tuesday, cars you can order tomorrow. The off
road-ready, 2-inch lifted Jeep Compass “True North,” bumble bee
yellow Fiat 500 “Stinger,” Ruby Red, carbon fiber-hooded Dodge
Dart “GTS210 Tribute,” and grand prize Chrysler 300
“Mopar ’12,” all came unwrapped and will be on display at
the Chicago Auto Show starting next week.
Even better, Gorlier promised, you can buy your Fiat 500, Dodge
Dart, Jeep Liberty, or Chrysler 300 and upgrade in stages later, if you
like. All the parts are available as kits.
Gorlier began acknowledging Mopar parts brand history, starting as
Chrysler’s brand of antifreeze in 1937. He charmed the audience with
his Italian accent and knowledgeable introduction of the father of drag
racing who was building and racing Hemis in the 1950s, ‘Big
Daddy’ Don Garlits.
Tricia Hecker, head of Mopar marketing, then unveiled the 2012 Mopar
Jeep Compass “True North”, showing the cosmetics that include
matte black trim, custom front and rear brush bars, and rock rails. Riding
on 16” BFG All Terrains and lifted 2” by Rocky Road
Suspensions, interiors are blown out with Kicker acoustics and neoprene
Next was a banana-yellow Fiat 500 “Stinger” with
checkered top and subtle changes to the “mustache.”
chrome accents the body and it rides on Abarth Hyper Black alloy wheels and
205/40R17 performance tires. Inside, it’s enhanced with black and
yellow Katzkin leather seats and a Mopar ball shifter. Stage Two adds more
power (no numbers, sorry) from improved cold air intake and cat-back
exhaust plus heftier brakes and cross-drilled rotors.
Tricia said you don’t have to take Stinger yellow. In their
custom kit you can create hundreds of thousands of combinations,
individualization that includes color.
Arguably the star of the show was the Dodge Dart “GTS 210
Tribute” with its startling light-weight carbon-fiber hood and matte
black trim around the chin,
tail spoiler and side rails, and 18”
forged titanium colored wheels. Even more appealing was the Ruby Red and
black Katzkin soft leather seats, door panels and accent surfaces. The IP
brow is sueded for low glare and with the programmable dash, this car drew
gasps and crowds.
Under the hood, should you go beyond looks, might be the stage 2
engine calibration and again, higher air intake flow and lower exhaust
pressure. That will bump the normal 184 horsepower to 210.
Jim Sassorossi, head of Mopar product development unwrapped the
fourth Mopar dealer-only special. Built in Brampton, Ontario with a price
tag of $49, 700, the exclusive Chrysler 300 “Mopar ’12”
will be available this summer. Production will end after only 500 are
built. Why would you want this black 300? The Hemi-engined, RWD sedan gets
an exclusive 3.91:1 final drive ratio for better launch and a 0-60 time
Mopar and Chrysler promise to be in the low 5-second range. More aggressive
Goodyear Eagle F1s, massive P245/45R20s, are accompanied by high
performance brake pads.
Styling for the Mopar 12 is unique with black accents, Mopar Black
Chrome seven-bar grille, an A-line accent in Mopar Blue, and Mopar 75
badges. Inside, blue stitching enlivens the black leather on the Katzkin
perforated leather seats. Then the whole technology and safety group is
added: adaptive forward lighting, HID lamps, automatic headlight leveling,
blind spot and forward collision warning, in addition to UConnect Touch
through an 8.4-inch touch screen. Alpine adds 506 watts and nine speakers
in 7.1 Surround Sound.
We haven’t had any opportunity to test them, nor has anyone we
know, though we are surely ready and willing. We also wish a few more
prices had been announced as we expect very competitive numbers.
Perhaps the most appealing idea is that, in general, you may be able
to package the Stage 1 and 2 upgrades into your purchase and monthly
payment with the entire vehicle wrapped in a genuine warranty.
Watch for The Auto Channel's Press Pass Coverage of the 2012 Chicago Auto Show this week for all the details and video.
© Cannell and Associates and Shunpiker Productions