Matt Harwood

Walter P. Chrysler Club Meet in Detroit

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Posted (edited)

Melanie and I (along with the kids) are headed up to Detroit in the '56 Town & Country on Wednesday morning. Not sure what to expect, we haven't been able to make contact with any of the meet organizers to get much detail, but since the Woodward Dream Cruise is going on and the Henry Ford is nearby, we figured that the trip wouldn't be a waste either way. I've got the wagon all dialed in and ready to go, it's healthier than ever with a fresh U-joint and a re-sealed rear axle, rebuilt brakes, new master cylinder, clean fluids, etc. Car has never run better and it's actually quite comfortable even in the heat and on the highway, so hopefully it'll be an easy 200 miles to Detroit.


Anyway, if any of you are there, come see us. We'll be easy to spot. Hope to see you there!

 

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Edited by Matt Harwood (see edit history)
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Sorry to hear you had trouble getting information about the meet. It shouldn't be difficult. I can't make it this year but next year is a certain. I had some Town & Country scripts reproduced for the tailgates on my 55 New Yorker wagon and I think they go on 56 wagons as well. If you are interested in purchasing one, I have only two left. Let me know and have a great time at the meet.

Greg

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Posted (edited)

Made it to Detroit without incident. Man, that wagon is just a pleasure to drive. Cruised along effortlessly at 70 MPH without much noise. Stayed cool under the hood and in the car--fairly amazing air management, in fact. Not windy at all with all the windows open but plenty of fresh air. And the ride is unbelievable! Melanie drives the car a lot but I'll admit I don't have much seat time (and still don't; she drove all the way today); this thing just hovers over bumps and broken pavement. No squeaks, no rattles, no shaky structure, suspension is supple and very little impact harshness. I am extremely impressed by this inexpensive yet incredibly well-maintained and well-built Chrysler. 

 

Maybe you guys don't understand why this is miraculous. I grew up with old cars that would break every time you touched them. My father refused to go more than 3 or 4 miles from home because he knew he'd be walking as often as not. Each outing was an exercise in terror for me as a little kid, as I didn't know if I would have a fun day with my dad or if my dad would turn into a monster and abandon the broken old car (and sometimes me) at the side of the road. Having cars that work properly, ride nicely, and are reliable is nothing short of a miracle to me. After 15 years of having my own cars that are reliable, you'd think I'd get over it, but I don't think I ever will. That wagon just drove beautifully.

 

The show is tomorrow and there are plenty of Mopars in the parking lot. Dark clouds rolling in, but hopefully tomorrow is clear for the show. I'll have more then. Excited to be here!

 

From the passenger's seat on the Ohio Turnpike:

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Effortless cruising (yeah, the gas gauge is broken, no worries!):

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Riley and Cody head back to the car after lunch:

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Edited by Matt Harwood (see edit history)
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Look up "507 South Laurel Street in Royal Oak" on Google Earth while you are there and see my childhood home. Hahahaha.

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A few more shots from this evening. Not sure how they're going to arrange things tomorrow morning for the show--looks like cars are just parking wherever they like tonight. I drove the wagon over to the show area and parked it but I'm guessing I'll have to get there early to make sure it's not in the way.

 

At our hotel, before I moved it. The sun setting made it look kind of neat:

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Some somewhat interesting stuff in the parking lot, but also a TON of late-model Challengers. Meh.

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And you know I loves me some station wagon:

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That sunset on your car makes it look like a pearl pink.

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Posted (edited)

Got to the registration table early this morning to sign up and there was a bit of chaos. Left hand didn't know what the right hand was doing and there were two or three other sets of hands in between. Eventually I called Melanie to come down and straighten things out because she's good at that kind of thing and I'm a blunt-force instrument. She solved the problem, got us registered, and I moved the wagon into position so it wouldn't be in anyone's way in class E. The day started rainy but by 10 AM the skies cleared and it was just beautiful for the rest of the day. The pink wagon was a big hit, which kind of surprised me, but when my oldest son said, "There's not much color here," pointing to the show field, I understood. Lots of white, gray, beige, tan, and off-white cars, but not a lot of colors. The pink wagon was able to stand out, even though we were kind of in the back corner. Only two other cars in our class, so I guess we'll win a trophy (all cars were judged by all participants).

 

Here are more photos of the show:

 

Our class, including a lovely 1957 Imperial sedan in roughly the same color as Melanie's wagon and a mostly original DeSoto Sportsman that is the guy's daily driver:

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The only pre-war car at the entire show was this handsome no-nonsense Plymouth sedan, and it had a crowd around it all day. That only reinforces my belief that pre-war cars are still special to the average show-goer and they NEED to be out there circulating. If you don't show other car guys that pre-war cars can be used and enjoyed just like their 60s-70s-80s-90s-00s cars, then we're going to lose a whole generation of enthusiasts and cars. Seriously, most car guys (never mind the general public) just doesn't get it with pre-war cars. From the conversations I've had and overheard, most guys don't even realize that these old cars are actually usable as cars. Want to revive the hobby's interest in older cars? GET THEM OUT AND DRIVE AND LET EVERYONE SEE YOU DOING IT!

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One thing I can say is that Mopar guys do love their wagons. More than a few very nice family cruisers here from all different eras, not just ours. Love them all!

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I voted for this 1948 DeSoto Carry-All as my pick for best of show. Nice restoration and a very unique car with folding rear seats that open to the trunk for an extra-large cargo bay. Really a nice car!

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I also really liked this 1947 DeSoto Custom Suburban, which has the same kind of cargo bay and an extended wheelbase. He arrived too late to register for the show, but parked adjacent to us. Lots of modifications (including power steering), but you can tell this guy uses and enjoys his car. I'm definitely OK with that!

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Other interesting stuff:

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One thing I wasn't really into was that all Chrysler products were welcome. I mean, I understand that it's the Walter P. Chrysler Club, but when you show up in a rented 2019 Chrylser minivan and put it on the show field (in fact, there were two brand new Pacificas, both the same color), it kind of diminishes the show. That's just me, and I don't have any say in how the club is operated, but seeing that the single biggest class at this show was full of brand new cars and minivans and Jeeps was kind of depressing. Those aren't interesting and won't attract the public to our hobby and it might even have the opposite effect. It's kind of like giving all the kids trophies regardless of how well they play the game. Just my thoughts.

 

Tomorrow we're heading to The Henry Ford and Saturday we're hitting the Woodward Dream Cruise. That's going to be AWESOME!

 

 

 

Edited by Matt Harwood (see edit history)
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Chrysler products are cool because......they are not like every other Chevy or Ford that you see way too often.   They were mainly working class heroes  who gave good service at reasonable cost to their owners.  My 1964 Plymouth Belvedere was a big hit at the retirement home car shows I used to attend.  Lots of folks there remembered having a four door sedan like mine with its blackwall tires and single color paint.  The Sport Fury models and other sporty cars might have been on their wish list buy it was the average 4 doors and wagons that they drove in everyday use.

 

Thanks for the photos Matt.

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Spent the day at the Henry Ford. Most of you know how amazing it is, but as incredible as that place is, I took only two photos:

 

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You will note that the Duesenberg sits on a 144-inch wheelbase and is considered a massive car. The Bugatti just DWARFS it. I've seen it before but every time I'm there it just takes my breath away. Such an extraordinary thing. For those wondering about that brand new Bugatti supercar for which someone paid $18 million, please consider that this car cost $43,000 in 1931 when you could buy a new Ford for $495. Just amazing.

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I LOVE that place and that Royale!

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Posted (edited)

We just discovered that Melanie's wagon won best of show at the meet. We received an announcement in the mail and I guess we'll be getting the trophy sometime in the next few days. That was an unexpected honor, especially considering how nice many of the other cars were. I do think it reflects that people like the unusual. Perfection and general popularity aren't necessarily what people prefer. I noticed that at the Dream Cruise as well--people on the sides of the road were ignoring most of the late-models going by but when this pink wagon sailed past, they were elbowing their friends to look at the car. This Chrysler was cheap and easy to buy because it's pink, but to be honest I wouldn't have bought it if it were any other color--the unusual is what appeals to me. Nobody else had the guts or the vision or whatever you want to call it, and we got a fantastic car for a song.
 

I guess my point is that we should step outside our comfort zones once in a while and own a car that isn't a garden-variety orange Charger or a red 'Cuda simply because that's what everybody seems to prefer. By going outside the lines, you may end up with an awesome car that you never expected to love and everyone else might just follow.

 

Anyway, thank you, Chrysler Club!

 

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Edited by Matt Harwood (see edit history)
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Posted (edited)

Pink is indeed a very attractive colour on this wagon. When I was learning to drive in 1963. my father had a 1959 Canadian Dodge Regent - Dodge front clip on a Plymouth body with the tall fins. Like you, he got a deal on it because the body was pink and the roof a deep wine. Came from the factory that way - I checked the colour codes! We could always find it in a parking lot. I like unusual too and wish we still had it.

Oh and congratulations on your best of show award. The wagon is a real beauty. I love it!

Edited by 36 D2 Coupe
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Every time I see your wagon, I am reminded of my Heather Rose 1955 Dodge Custom Royal Lancer....

Picture 26042.jpg

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WOW,   Best of show..... WHOOO_HOOOO

I take it you didn't hang around for the presentations.

Fun stuff for sure.   

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Posted (edited)

Congrats on the win. Great to see the pink wagon out and about doing what it does best...Making people happy. 

Edited by keithb7 (see edit history)

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21 hours ago, JACK M said:

WOW,   Best of show..... WHOOO_HOOOO

I take it you didn't hang around for the presentations.

Fun stuff for sure.   

 

We don't usually do judging or awards simply because we don't ever expect to win. We just go to shows for the people and the cars and to have someplace to drive. The awards "banquet" for the WPC Club this year was a breakfast, but we were eager to get the kids over to Woodward before it got too busy and too hot, then get on the road back to Cleveland. We honestly didn't expect to win anything--why would we? Our chrome is pitted and our paint is a bit faded. But it's always rewarding to see unusual cars acknowledged and I find that very encouraging. It's all too easy to go to most car shows and see row after row of late-models and kind of blah cars and assume that's what you're supposed to like. There were some neat cars at the WPC show, more than a few of which were in far better condition. People's Choice awards are really the only ones that actually matter to me simply because it means other people dig your car.

 

We aren't going to start chasing trophies, but awards like this are always an honor.

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