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Book Review - Mopar: The Performance Years

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by Rick Jensen  More from Author

A must-read for the hardcore Mopar fan.

Mopar The Performance Years

By Martyn L. Schorr

ISBN-13: 978-0-9821733-1-2

Paperback: 198 pages

Publisher: 671 Press; July 2009 (Original publisher: Quicksilver Supercar Series)

Retail: $24.95

 

Every once in awhile, a car guy ends up in the perfect time, and at the perfect place. For Martyn “Marty” Schorr, it was the 1960s in New York City, and he was editing Hi-Performance CARS magazine, and was editorial director of the Magnum Automotive Group. Wild Dodge and Plymouth muscle cars were hitting the streets, and Martyn had good connections with the Chrysler press fleets, race teams, and engineers. It gave him amazing access to some of the hottest factory and prototype rides in America–and he took full advantage. Some of his notable exploits included commuting in a 1965 Coronet 426 Hemi sedan prototype, and “cruising” a clone of the Ramchargers Candy-Matic Dodge–with Stage III 426 power–to the local street-racing spots.

As you can probably imagine, Martyn wrote some amazing stuff about those days. Originally they were published in three volumes, and they have been out of print for more than 20 years now. But recently, Schorr and 671 Press (www.671press.com) teamed up to bring the highlights of those heady Mopar days back. 671 Press is a new, independent publisher of both new books and reprints of quality out-of-print titles. The company specializes in niche subjects, particularly transportation-related books, and Schorr’s Mopar: The Performance Years is one of the first out of the gate.

And it comes out swinging: Martyn sets the tone early, with chapters dedicated to the origins of the Hemi and Wedge V-8s. From there, he chronicles 11 magical, power-filled years–starting in 1962 with a high-performance 413 engine and the formation of a group of young Chrysler engineers called the Ramchargers, and ending in 1972 when these legendary vehicles were reduced to 200-odd horsepower shells of their former selves.

Of course, it was in those years that the Mopar legend was cemented. Schorr’s original road tests–the subjects of which turn today’s young journalists green with envy–are great reading. One of this book’s most entertaining parts involves the wacky shenanigans that Schorr and Co. got involved in on one such test. It included dropping off the aforementioned (and barely running) Candy-Matic at one local dealer after another as the wild mill couldn’t be tuned right–and ended with Schorr billing the Dodge News Bureau for the work!

There is also intel on hardcore drag cars, from the legendary Hemi Under Glass to a wacky, 10-second Dodge Colt wagon. The period technical illustrations and photos are a real treat! Of particular interest are the chapters discussing other racing Mopars. From Bonneville, to rally, NASCAR, dirt, and even mid-engine sports car racing, Schorr opens the door to a rarely seen world of Mopar performance.

Of course, the 1969-1970 chapters are magical: great Six-Pack/Six-Barrel technical info, amazing period photos and stories of Daytonas and Superbirds prowling the streets, AAR and T/A specs, and the odd 1970 Hemi ’Cuda convertible drag test photo…

This black-and-white paperback lacks the smooth aesthetics of some of the more glitzy books out there, but if you are a hardcore Mopar fan–or a car enthusiast interested in one of the most important times in the history of performance­–this gritty read is right up your alley.    

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