MoPars on the Mississippi
By Carl Bilter, August 2014

August 24, 2014 was the date for the annual "Mopars on the Mississippi" show in Dubuque, Iowa. This show has become a fairly large regional Mopar show over the years and is one of the few shows in the area that has a separate class for Chrysler 300s from 1955-1971. Despite very hot and humid weather, among the 283 cars in attendance we had five letter cars (three Fs, an H and a J) driven to the show this year, which was a new record. Letter cars in attendance and their drivers included club members Dave Schwandt and the Polar Blue F, Noel Hastalis and his white F, Rolland Westra and his white H convertible, and me and the white J. A beautiful Torreador Red F was driven in by non-club member (but hopefully future member) Tom Gilmore. Tom bought the F at auction earlier this year and it had been restored by club member Bob Hayen. This fully restored F was awarded the "Best of Show" award via popular vote. That is notable because this show largely attracts a "Mopar muscle" crowd. So perhaps the appreciation of our great letter cars is on the rise after all!

This year Dave's Polar Blue F was selected to be the car featured on the dash plaque and also was the lead car in the cruise the previous afternoon around the scenic Dubuque countryside. Dave really had to scramble to get the F back together in time. With help from his sons he got the engine back in the car on the new replacement sub-frame, but he encountered a lot of issues trying to get it running and driving. It just didn't want to go to the show. I was up at Dave's place and rode with him over to the cruise, and he had trouble right up to the last minute. A little bitty spring on the fast idle cam broke on the passenger carb as he pulled out of the shop, and we had to do a "field" repair before even getting to the highway. But once finally underway, the F was alive and well!

The J drove great both to and from Dubuque, cruising at 70 mph through the rolling hills of the Iowa countryside. I have not yet replaced the A/C compressor; so it was toasty on the return trip as temps were in the low 90's and the dew point was tropical at 76. But the engine didn't mind and seemed to enjoy gulping lots of air and 91 octane fuel.

Rolland reported that the H drove great except that the engine got a little too warm on the return trip, and Noel had fun coming out from Chicago in his ever-reliable F. In fact, he told me he's thinking of driving it all the way to the New Mexico meet! Now that, folks, is what these letter cars were made for!

Probably the best part of the show was seeing my club member friends and catching up on news and talking 300s. There is nothing like a group of "300 nuts" getting together. This show is a great venue for exactly that. Centrally located in the lovely historic river town of Dubuque, it is convenient for you fellas in the Chicago and Milwaukee areas as well. And for folks who think that this part of the country is "pancake flat" you'd be wrong! This area was spared by the last glaciation and is quite scenic. You ought to drive your 300s on some of the twisty hilly country roads in this area because they were tailor made for our brutes. So c'mon out next year with your letter car!