By: Scott Vandekerckhove – Lead Contributor
Tell me, how many car buildings can you walk into where you’re first greeted by a rock-climbing pickup truck and a HEMI-powered drag strip monster? The answer is not many. But that’s exactly what I faced walking into Mopar Headquarters today in Centerline, MI.
The event marked the 75th anniversary of the brand which has grown leaps and bounds since it got its start in 1937. It’s incredible to know that the term “Mopar” was simply used as a label for antifreeze three quarters of a century ago. Since then, Mopar has expanded to become a global powerhouse that operates in over 120 countries.
According to Mopar Brand President and CEO, Pietro Gorlier (pictured above), “Mopar is the single source for parts and accessories for the near 70 million vehicles shared amongst Chrysler and Fiat Groups. [...] Additionally, Mopar encompasses the entire after-sales experience for all 10 brands underneath the Chrysler and Fiat umbrellas.”
And if that’s not staggering enough for you, try to wrap your head around these statistics:
- Mopar currently produces over 500,000 parts and accessories
- Worldwide, they have 50 distribution centers covering 19 million square feet of space
- There are also 45 commercial offices, 20 customer care call centers, and 11,000 ship-to locations
But most impressive may be the 400+ Mopar enthusiast clubs that span the entire globe, 20% of which exist outside of the U.S. Even the Mopar Facebook page is nearing the 140,000 fan mark.
This is a brand unlike any other in the respect that it is universally synonymous with its parent company (Chrysler). When Gorlier completed his speech this morning, he left the podium after proclaiming, “Mopar, or no car!” – a saying that will be eternally linked to Chrysler vehicles abroad, and chanted by the enthusiasts who own and love them. Nothing even remotely similar exists in the auto industry.
Today’s event was certainly a celebration of Mopar’s rich history, but it was also about the future of where they are going from here.
In front a packed house, the brand unveiled four “Mopar-ized” vehicles including the Fiat 500 “Stinger,” Jeep Compass “True North,” Dodge Dart “GTS 210 Tribute,” and the Mopar ’12 300. It was a demonstration of how Gorlier says Mopar can “show we can go to the next level of personalization.” He continued, “With our best in-class offerings of parts and accessories, we give our customers every opportunity to further enhance the appearance and performance of their vehicles.”
The 500 “Stinger” (shown below) offers two stage kits, the first of which addresses styling. The signature “whiskers and logo” face, along with the projector headlamps are finished in black chrome. Additionally, the “Stinger” wears larger 17 X 7 Abarth Hyper Black aluminum wheels with wider 205/40R17 tires for a more aggressive stance. Mopar’s vinyl bodyside and roof graphics in black checker give the car a more serious look.
The interior also sees enhancements which includes Katzkin leather seats, as well as a carbon fiber instrument panel decal, and a Gloss Black shifter ball.
The Stage 2 improves upon performance with upgrades such as cold air induction and a cat-back exhaust to help the 1.4-liter engine breathe better. The brakes also feature cross-drilled rotors for better stopping performance.
The Jeep Compass “True North” (shown below) features a 2-inch lift kit and matte black surfacing to the grille, roof and rock rails, wheel arches, and wheels.
On the inside, Kicker audio components step up the sound quality with a sub-woofer, integrated lift gate speakers, and amplifier. Custom inclinometer gauges are added to the center stack of the Compass to measure pitch and roll for off-road situations. From there, durable neoprene seat covers are added along with door sill guards, and a rear cargo tray.
When it comes to the Dodge Dart “GTS 210 Tribute” (shown below), I have a feeling this version is going to stir the pot over the prospect of an SRT version. Wearing a light weight carbon fiber hood with a functional scoop to guzzle down air, this Dart shouts performance. The added chin spoiler and side sills provide some real dimension to the car and give it a great look.
Underneath that beautiful hood is the 2.4-liter Tigershark MultiAir four-banger that gets a performance calibration and cat-back exhaust, bumping horsepower up to 210 (thus, the name). The Dart is then lowered an inch with a coil-over suspension.
But the big news today was the introduction of the Mopar ’12 300 (shown below) which will be a full-on production vehicle following in the footsteps of the Mopar ’10 Challenger and ’11 Charger.
Using a 300S as the donor car, the Mopar ’12 comes across as “subtlety sinister”. The Gloss Black exterior is offset by understated Mopar Blue stripes that adorn the belt lines, and run up the middle of the hood, as well as around the outer rim of the wheels. 75th Anniversary badges are found on the front fenders to commemorate this historic year in Mopar history.
Jump inside to find a monotone black interior accented by Mopar Blue touches throughout. Katzkin seats include Mopar Blue stitching on the seating surfaces, while a black and blue two-tone stitching theme pulls in the perimeter. Even the steering wheel receives the Mopar Blue stitching, as does the custom shifter made specifically for the Mopar ’12.
Only 500 of the limited-edition Mopar ‘12s will be built. Each customer will receive a personalized owners kit in a customized box that includes Mopar-branded key FOBs; a certificate of the vehicle with corresponding VIN, exact date of manufacture, and number of build; an original sketch of the vehicle signed by the designer; and a brochure highlighting the unique features of the Mopar ’12.
The Mopar ’12 will sell for $49,700 when it hits dealers this summer. It also includes the legendary 5.7-liter HEMI V8 producing 363 horsepower, but now with a 3.91 rear axle borrowed from the Challenger. Mopar says this version of the 300 will hit 60mph in just over five seconds.
(As a side note, Mopar also announced that they will be starting an online owners site specially dedicated to the owners of the Mopar series of vehicles)
After the vehicles had been revealed, camaraderie flowed throughout the building as Mopar fans, new and old, chatted up the new cars and toured the facility. In attendance was Mopar legend, “Big Daddy” Don Garlits, who just recently celebrated his 80th birthday. Cheers to you, Don!!!
But the biggest surprise of the day came in the presence of SRT Brand CEO, Ralph Gilles, who graciously posed in front of the Dart holding a copy of Modern Mopar Magazine (pictured below). This was a big moment for us and we are eternally grateful for Ralph’s time. Next week, we’ll be traveling to the Chicago Auto Show to interview both Ralph and Reid Bigland (Dodge Brand CEO) to ask some key questions that have been on our mind, but we need your help. Get over to the MMM Facebook and Twitter pages to submit your questions. We’ll do our best to work them into the conversation.