July 17, 2017 -- It was three days of Mopar heaven, as diehard Chrysler fans filled the fairgrounds in Carlisle, PA to celebrate their annual get together. Known for hosting many classic car extravaganzas throughout the year, Carlisle’s Chrysler Nationals, now in its 26th year, has grown to be one of the largest Mopar events in the country. Five-point-star enthusiasts, 50,000+ strong, traveled from locations across North America and beyond to see the fields of rainbow-colored vehicles, and to hear the sounds of revving engines. With nearly 2,700 vehicles on the show field, a huge swap meet, and manufacturer vendors galore, it was definitely the center of the universe for Mopar lovers. And, just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, the inaugural Hurst Nationals was in full swing next door with 200 of the vehicles that received trademark upgrades from this iconic speed shop. Although it was virtually impossible to see it all, here are some of the highlights of the fun-filled weekend.
In 1967 Plymouth introduced a new performance car, the GTX, which was based on the Belvedere model and was referred to by some as the “Gentlemen’s Muscle Car.” The Commando 440 engine came standard, but for an additional $500, the new exotic Hemi 426 engine was available . And, as they say, the rest is history. At this year’s show, a special display of first and second generation cars took center stage in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the GTX.
Chrysler has never been shy about calling attention to their vehicles, as demonstrated by the unique design of their winged cars, and the decision to name their cars after cartoon characters, such a the Road Runner. In 1970 they even offered one of the most unusual colors imaginable, flamboyant hot pink. Known as paint code FM3, the color was named Panther Pink on Dodge autos and Moulin Rouge on Plymouths. There was a special display of several of these fun cars at this year’s Chrysler Nationals. They definitely put a smile on everyone's face.
Car enthusiasts always love a good burnout, and it was no exception this year at the Chrysler Nationals. The stands overlooking the burnout pit were packed with spectatators eager to see which car (or truck) could generate the most smoke and pop a tire or two. Of course, the applause and cheers of the crowd was just the incentive the driver needed to push it just a little bit farther, and gave him the opportunity to enjoy his three minutes of fame. Ultimately, despite stiff competition, Kevin Cox, in his 1972 Demon drag car, was crowned “King of the Hill,” winning a signed Richard Petty cowboy hat and bragging rights. Here’s some of the cars and trucks that roasted some rubber.
With so many Mopar vehicles, of all years, makes, and models on the show field, the Carlisle judges must have worked overtime to sort out who would take home some hardware from the 2017 Chrysler Nationals (over 500 received awards). On the final day of the show, a parade of winners queued up for the award ceremony, creating that picture-perfect moment.
Ever wonder what it feels like to experience the acceleration and cornering in a Dodge Hellcat? Well, the Dodge Motor Sports boys were giving Thrill Rides throughout the weekend, so we jumped into one of the 707 HP Challengers, buckled up, and turned on the video camera to record our wild ride.
Without a doubt, the all-new 2018 Dodge Demon was one of the superstars at this year’s show. Only recently unveiled to the public, this is one of the baddest Mopars yet. Sporting massive Nitto drag radial tires on all four corners and a standard 808 HP engine that can be further uprated to 840 HP with a “High Octane” plug and play chip, it is a truly track-ready racer, straight from the factory. Spokesperson for Dodge, Steve Magnante, was on hand to break down this street legal muscle car on steroids. As he said, “… the good old days are right now!”.
The Hurst brand is forever tied to Oldsmobile and the iconic T-Handle shifter. However, many other cars back in the muscle car era, and even still today, carry the logo “Hurst Equipped.” The first Hurst Nationals, held in parallel with the 2017 Carlisle Chrysler Nationals, provided a homecoming of sorts for these special “H” vehicles. Be sure to view our video with Rich Truesdell on some of the most significant cars in this show. For more on the history of the Hurst cars, check out Hurst Equipped: More than 50 Years of High Performance.