Spring in Southern California signals that it’s time once again for annual Chrysler Spring Fling Show, one of the most anticipated Mopar events of the season. Held at the picturesque Woodley Park in Van Nuys under mature trees on a lush field of green grass each April for the past twenty four years, Spring Fling has matured into the largest Mopar car show and swap west of the Mississippi.
Organized by volunteers from the Chrysler Performance West Mopar Club, Spring Fling includes a car show with over 700 vintage and late model vehicles on both Saturday and Sunday, a large swap meet with over 300 vendors and a manufacturer’s midway. With an average of over 9,000 spectators attending Spring Fling each year, it’s a Mopar show that you should definitely consider putting on your calendar.
Above: Another wagon, this one a 1965 Dodge Custom 880. It may not have been a beauty queen, but it was very interesting none the less. This Dodge C-Body six passenger wagon was one of very few built with a factory four speed stirred by a swan neck Hurst Competition Plus Shifter, and it was for sale. Good luck finding another.
This year, the festivities began on Thursday, with a track day at the Willow Springs Race Track. This was followed on Friday night with a cruise-in at the Picture Car Warehouse in Northridge, where many of the cars you see in movies and on television are built. There was also a display of vehicles from past tinsel town productions that were built by the Picture Car Warehouse. It was a great chance to take photos of some of your favorite star cars, making this an evening to remember.
The first actual show day was Saturday, and in typical SoCal fashion, it dawned sunny and warm. By 5:30 in the morning, there was a long line of cars and vendors that stretched for blocks, each waiting patiently to get to their spots long before the gates opened. And the minute the gates opened, not only did the vendors start pulling in, but enthusiasts on foot swarmed the swap meet area, many hovering over vendors impatiently as they unloaded their parts. By eight in the morning, some of the parts vendors in swap meet area were nearly overwhelmed, with attendees literally elbow to elbow in their hunt for elusive treasure. Many of them were no doubt looking for some rare, hard to find part for one of their latest projects and were determined not to miss anything.
Above: Plum Crazy 1971 Challenger T/A was purchased new at Mr. Norm’s Grand Spaulding Dodge and had the original dealer documentation to prove it
For these hard core automotive archeologists, showing up later in the day was not an option. Proof that extremely rare iron is still out there, one vendor showed up with a set of factory original aluminum fenders, doors, and a hood for a 1964 Hemi Ram sedan, while in another isle, a complete 1937 Chrysler Airflow was strapped to a trailer. An excellent restoration candidate, it was the essence of a true barn find and was looking for a new home.
Aisle after isle of goodies and long forgotten automotive treasures provided something for everyone with an automotive addiction. In addition, there were plenty of manufacturers on site like Layson’s and Classic Industries, who offered everything and anything imaginable in the way of reproduction parts for A, B, E and even some C Body cars. As if that wasn’t enough, there were also a number of aftermarket accessory companies with their wares on display, including TTI with a wide range of headers and exhaust systems and Gear Vendors, whose bullet proof overdrives for A-833 four speeds and Torqueflite automatic transmissions are very popular with the vintage Mopar crowd.
Above left: This 1968 Dodge A-100 van wasn’t for sale, but the 6.1 Hemi with the long tube headers inside of it was and could have been yours. Above center: We’re seeing more and more vans at car shows. This Dodge Tradesman 100 had all of the right period accessories, including the graphics, front air dam, Ansen Sprint mags and custom windows. Above left: Cherry Dodge A-100 pickup looked better than factory fresh. With its original green and white paint scheme, California black plates and Ansen Sprint mags, it was simply cool.
On the other side of the park, the show field was loaded with a wide range of Mopars of all kinds. Whether your preference was post war fat fenders, colorful fifties cruisers, potent sixties muscle, or late model Challengers and Chargers, there was an endless array of vehicles on display.
Displayed among the more common vehicles at the show this year were a number of standouts, including several nicely restored Plymouth Superbird’s and Dodge Charger Daytona’s, an extremely rare 1934 Dodge C-Cab truck and a 1965 Dodge Custom 880 six passenger wagon in need of a compete resto that was easy to overlook, except for one thing; a peek in the window revealed that it was one of very few factory four speed C-Body wagons built that year and it was for sale. You certainly won’t find these growing on trees, but it was sitting on the show field among the trees at Spring Fling. Another of the cars that caught our eye on the show field was a gorgeous Plum Crazy 1970 Challenger T/A wearing a set of period correct Illinois license plates. Sure enough, it was sold new at Mr. Norm’s Grand Spaulding Dodge and was displayed with documentation proving its pedigree.
Above left: Mopars were lined up door handle to door handle on every isle of the show field. Vintage and late models were displayed next to each other and made great companions. Above right: 2015 Mr. Norm’s GSS Hall of Fame Edition Challenger was displayed in the Chrysler Power Exhibit on the Manufacturers Midway.
As if all of this wasn’t enough, there was a mini show on the street and in the adjacent lot, where many attendees had parked their cars. All types of interesting vintage Mopars that were still being used as daily drivers hugged the curb, including an all original 1966 Barracuda, and a ’65 Plymouth Satellite with a Super Stock hood scoop and American mags. Other cool drivers included a nice original 1940 Dodge Luxury Liner coupe and a really neat 1950 DeSoto two door sedan that had been cut down into a convertible. It sported a freshly chromed grille and bumpers that contrasted with smooth coat of black suede. Other features included a chopped windshield, lakes pipes, ’57 Caddy sombrero hub caps, wide white and spot lights. This post war Mopar was looking good and screamed “Back to the Fifties.”
When the show closed at 4:00 PM on Saturday, there was still more fun in store. An easy seven and a half mile cruise from Woodley Park, Bob’s Big Boy in Northridge hosted a cruise-in for Chrysler Spring Fling participants. It offered plenty of parking and after a long day at Spring Fling it was nice to relax and eat in a restaurant with comfortable booths and a full menu. No ordinary drive in, this particular Bob’s Big Boy has long been an icon in the area. It attracts a big crowd every Friday night that includes a wide range of hot rods, muscle cars and on the previous Friday, the week before Spring Fling, among the cars that showed up, there was a wicked ‘48 Fiat altered with small block, zoomie headers, wheelie bars, slicks and a dragster steering wheel.
Above left: A rare is an overworked word, but this Nash Airflyte convertible really was. It drew plenty of attention, but don’t let its restored appearance fool you, as it had a potent 440 Magnum hiding under the hood. Above right: Not your regular drop top, this Nash convertible featured a top that retracts, while the metal sides with the glass remain.
Somehow, it was considered street legal and had a California license plate, so this wolf could cruise the streets among the sheep. This Bob’s Big Boy is located only about a quarter mile from where Dick Landy’s and Don the Snake Prudomme’s original race shops had been back in the sixties. Needless to say, Northridge is well known by hot rodders and drag racers, and the cars that regularly show up at Bob’s on the weekends is a true reflection of the essence of SoCal car culture.
After getting a good night’s sleep, we were ready for the last day of the show. The weather gods didn’t disappoint, as Sunday was another picture perfect day and the show field was packed. There were many cars in competition, and proud vehicle owners waited with baited breath to see if they had won their class when the trophies were awarded that afternoon. We kept busy looking at the beautiful cars and trucks, and passed time going back to the swap meet area, perusing the goodies in the vain hope that we might find something obscure that had been overlooked by the masses.
Top left: Rare 1934 Dodge C-Cab truck was probably the only survivor of its kind. The owner said that it was sold new as a C-Cab and that he restored it as close as possible to the way it was back in 1934. Top right: Spotted in the swap meet area, this 1937 Chrysler Airflow was nearly complete, rust free and ready to be restored. Who knows, it might be on the show field here next year competing for an award. Bottom left: In the parking lot was this way cool 1950 DeSoto. Born a two door sedan, it was neatly cut into a convertible, the windshield was chopped and framed by a pair of Appleton spots. Brilliant chrome accented a black suede finish, along with lakes pipes, ’57 Caddy sombrero hub caps and wide whites. Pure 1950’s kitsch. Bottom right: 1940 Dodge coupe wasn’t perfect, but it was a nice driver and nearly all original, right down to the flathead six and three on the tree. Here it is pulling out of the parking lot and heading home after a fun day at Spring Fling.
We have been attending Spring Fling for nineteen years, and it is one of our favorite Mopar shows of the year. It’s a perfect example of what fun with Mopars is all about, and if you’re on the West Coast next April, we highly recommend that you join us for the show and festivities. You’ll be glad you did.
“West Coast Report Chrysler Spring Fling: A SoCal Mopar Tradition” was first published by Larry Weiner in Pentastar Power Magazine in June 2015.