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by Christopher J. Carpenter
“The real secret of success is enthusiasm.” – Walter P. Chrysler
On Saturday, June 11, 2011, the Chrysler Employee Motorsport Association (CEMA) held its 22nd annual show on the grounds of the Walter P. Chrysler Museum in Auburn Hills, Michigan. A popular destination for tourists and auto-enthusiasts alike; the U.S. National Park Service recognizes the museum as a “Motor Cities National Heritage” destination.
This show is somewhat unique in that its audience is generally comprised of people who are former or current employees of Chrysler and others who were “born” of the Pentastar. Although organized by CEMA, the show is open to all makes/models and generally attracts a healthy variety of participants and spectators. Traditionally, the show is a charity event; its proceeds were gifted to the Walter P. Chrysler Museum Foundation this year.
The theme this year was “Fins, Fashion & Chrome” and participants were encouraged to attend dressed in period attire appropriate for their vehicle. Notable guests included “Mr. Norm” Kraus of Grand Spaulding Dodge in Chicago and Margery Krevsky, author of Sirens of Chrome – The Enduring Allure of Auto Show Models.
While the number of vehicles registered in aggregate is unknown to this writer, the pre-show registration information showed at least 153 vehicles registered to attend. The show did seem noticeably smaller as in years past, but the overcast skies and cooler temperature did little to encourage a summer’s outing to the museum. Even so, there was certainly no shortage of “ooh’s,” “ahh’s,” and double takes as the sunlight we did have danced off the brightwork.
As usual, the judging of all vehicle classes began mid-morning and concluded around 1 P.M. While not without several of the obligatory HEMI muscle cars, a Prowler and a smattering of Vipers- the show included several relics from Chrysler’s 86-year history book, driven right off the page and onto the pavement. Not the least of which was a beautiful 1955 Chrysler Imperial Limousine, only 127 of which ever saw production.
Since non-Mopar vehicles are always welcome at this event, there were a handful of shiny Mustang’s that caught the eye of many a spectator. Along with a handful of wheels from the folks over in the General Motors camp, this was a show that was truly “made in America.”
Allpar enjoyed a lively tent with nine members in attendance with their vehicles, along with various walk-in guests (including Allpar regulars Bob Sheaves and J.P. Joans). The line-up included a Chrysler 200 Touring, Chrysler Town & Country Limited, Dodge Stratus, Dodge Daytona Shelby-Z, two Chrysler Imperials (1962 and 1965), Dodge Charger Daytona, Chrysler Sebring Convertible, and a Dodge Challenger SRT-8.
For those who have been to an event with Allpar, you know that a show is ne’er complete without the Allpar awards. For this year’s CEMA show, the Editor’s Choice Award went to Greg McCausey with his 1987 Dodge Daytona Shelby-Z. The Forum Master’s Choice Award went to Chris Carpenter with his 2000 Chrysler Town & Country Limited. With members coming from a few different states, the longest distance-traveled award went to member Jim Choate (Stratuscaster) from Chicago, IL who came up in his signature 1998 Stratus.
As an additional bonus, there were representatives from other premier online Mopar destinations such as ChryslerMinivan.net, Stratusphere.net, Chrysler Literature on Facebook, and MoparAutos.com amongst the Allpar members present. (Three of these are represented in this photo. Greg McCausey, who has written three books on front wheel drive Mopars, is pictured under the banner with Dave Van Buren.
As eyes looked out from beneath the brim of Mopar baseball caps, the love, dedication and appreciation for this uniquely American company could be seen in every smile, in every bragging-right, in every conversation, and firmly rooted in every seat.
“The best thing about the CEMA show,” said Allpar member Greg McCausey, “are the people that you get to hang out with. Hanging out in the tent, listening to the great assembly line stories, the car resurrection stories, and the fond memories of the cars that got away. That is what makes the CEMA show great. You may come here for the cars, but it’s the friendships that make you come back.”
Upon the conclusion of the show, the Allpar team took a walk through the Walter P. Chrysler Museum where several members were treated to a fantastic impromptu tour by Trenton Engine veteran Dave Van Buren, whose extensive knowledge and history working for the Chrysler Corporation provided fascinating insight to many of the exhibits on display. Following the museum, the team retired to BD’s Mongolian Barbeque for some great grill and a good dose of the shop talk we all know and love.
Sunday morning, the guys met up at Roberts’ Family Dining in Utica for breakfast. It’s a winsome little diner with great food and friendly service, a definite keeper for next year. Following breakfast, I set out with Dave Zatz on a Mopar factory tour of the greater Detroit Metropolitan area in a 2011 Chrysler 200 Touring.
Through hill and dale, our destinations included the Sterling Heights Assembly Plant (we got to bring our 200 “home”), Sterling Stamping Plant, Detroit Axle, Lynch Road Plant, Jefferson Avenue Plant, Warren Truck Assembly Plant, and the Trenton Engine Plant (which sits next to the Trenton North Assembly Plant — whose new lease on life was granted the very next day). Although we were unable to tour any of the facilities, it was neat seeing where all the work that unfortunately gets taken for granted sometimes, is done… right here in the U.S. (More on this to follow).
It was a busy couple of days, but for this newbie, he wouldn’t have changed a thing. Great cars, amazing people and a shared American passion made for an awesome weekend.
• Our next meets are at Carlisle (July) and New Jersey (September).
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