Happy Seventy-Fifth birthday, Mopar

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426 Hemi

The giant 426 cid Hemi, first produced in 1965, became a top choice for motorists who valued power and performance. Image: DVS1mn/Flickr/CC BY

Mopar, a name that is closely associated with the Hemi engine and the rise of the muscle car, has had a rich and varied history. This month Mopar, the official parts and services arm of Chrysler LLC, is celebrating its 75th birthday.

The rise of Mopar

The name Mopar itself was coined during a meeting of the Chrysler Parts Corporation’s executive committee in the 1920s. However, by 1937 it had became a brand name for Chrysler’s parts making arm.

It’s got a Hemi

It wasn’t until the 1950s, however, that Mopar really earned its stripes. During the early part of that decade it developed the Hemispherical, or “Hemi,” engine. The engine was used in some Dodge and Plymouth models of the day. When a 1956 Plymouth Fury with a Polyspherical engine tore up Daytona at 124 mph, the racing world stopped and took notice.

In 1958 Mopar developed the powerful and fast 350 cid class “B” motor, packing two four-barreled carburetors. It became the coveted powertrain for many muscle car aficionados. There were few, if any, faster or more powerful engines available in its day.

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Race track and beyond

Mopar’s name became intrinsically associated with power and speed. Its popularity grew, leading to the formation of an official Mopar Division at Chrysler in the early 1960s. In 1964, Mopar brought out a racing version of the Hemi, which was really just an improved version of the powertain it used in Dodge and Plymouth models during the mid-1950s.

During that same decade, Chrysler began offering Mopar upgrade “package” cars. The Dodge dart and the Plymouth Belvedere were the first models offered with the upgrades. These were originally sold as racing cars, but soon found their way out onto the open highway.

The giant 426 cid Hemi, first produced in 1965, held its own as a top choice for motorists who valued power and performance until 1972. At that time, stricter emissions laws dictated changes.

Mopar today

Today, Mopar, a maker of replacement and after-market parts, is the official parts miller of Dodge, Chrysler, Jeep and Plymouth brands. It offers about 500,000 parts in its catalog, for both street and racing vehicles. Plus, there are more than 400 “Mopar or No Car” clubs globally. Those clubs are filled with members who wouldn’t consider going anyplace else

Happy birthday, Mopar.


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