Halloween is here and screens across america are filled with creature features and slasher flicks. While the rest of the world gets their frights from Freddie Kruger or Michael Myers you Mopar maniacs may want to check out these Chrysler inspired classics instead!
From low budget gore to irrelevant sex scenes, the Phantasm series is your typical 1980s drive thru picture. While at times it’s hard not to laugh at some of more outlandish scenes in this film, one thing viewers won’t be laughing at is the triple black 1971 Plymouth ’Cuda our protagonist prowls about in. Complete with a 440-6, pistol grip 4 speed and Dana 60 rear end, this conniving ‘Cuda demands your attention. Notice the aftermarket wheel flares and set of wide Cragars that perfectly capture the “day two” look. The film’s director, Don Coscarelli, recalls a brand new 1971 Sassy Grass green ’Cuda from his highschool parking lot as being the inspiration for his choice some twenty years later. Throughout the film you’ll see the car featured in multiple driving scenes, in one particular part of the film we even see a passenger fire off a shotgun through the ‘Cuda’s rarely optioned sunroof. Despite the corny effects this B list movie’s focus on the ‘Cuda makes it worth the watch. The movie is followed by multiple sequels that feature two different convertible 1970 ‘Cudas. Despite rumors, the whereabouts of the original 1971 Phantasm ‘Cuda are officially unknown. Unfortunately some Mopars may have been harmed during the making of this movie.
If you’re reading this you probably recognize that grin, it’s the inspired expression that creeps across your face when you discover a neglected and lonesome Mopar. Where others see junk you see potential, you visualize it’s future and become determined to make your fantasy reality. Unfortunately for Arnie his determination turns into an aggressive obsession as Christine’s personality consumes his awkward charm and transforms him into a bad to the bone rebel. These unwelcome changes bring his friends to questions the car, could there be a supernatural element? (the answer is yes). Despite her nefarious tendencies, it’s hard not to feel compassion for Christine, I mean you would probably seek revenge too if you were run down, vandalized, and disrespected. Speaking of disrespect did you know movie makers used over 20 Plymouth’s (Fury’s, Savoys, and Belvederes) to film Christine and only 2 cars are officially known to have made it out alive. One of which being an oddball manual 3 speed Fury, the other being a $900 dollar junkyard find that is now married (literally) to her new owner and can be seen on display at events across the country like the Mopar NATS and Chrysler’s at Carlisle. While this iconic ’58 Fury dominates the screen it’s hard not to notice Dennis’ striking ’68 Charger as well. Rumors have it the Charger was a simple baseline 318 car that was owned by a private individual who allowed the production company to use it solely for the filming of Christine.
In this bizarre blend we see what happens when a classic car chase movie meets a slasher flick. Stuntman Mike stalks pretty girls and murders them with his “death proof” muscle machines. That is until he meets his match; stunt-women Kim and Zoe prove Dodge girls are not to be trifled with. While this cult classic is typically associated with the 1970 Nova used in the beginning scenes, Moparheads will appreciate Mike’s flat black ’69 Charger and the Vanishing Point tribute Challenger the young ladies take out for a “test drive”. While movie critics watch for hidden motifs and subliminal messages you die-hard Mopar fans can watch intently on these two iconic Chryslers (pay close attention and you’ll notice subtle details, like the Challenger’s incorrect additional window frames that were added for dangerous stunts). While the feature concludes with a sort of twisted albeit happy ending its not yet confirmed these cars received the same pleasant fate. The Nova was reportedly sold to the real stuntman who drove it in it’s crash scene for a whopping $500 bucks. He passed the Chevy along to his high school son as his first car it has since been restored. Only two Dodge Challengers were used in the production of Death Proof, one of which was a badly battered baseline with a 383 motor. The car was reportedly found in Australia and put on auction in 2017. The fate of the ‘69 Charger and it’s stunt double are centered around many rumors yet no concrete evidence, but the crash scenes can lead viewers to only one conclusion. It’s fair to say if Death Proof wasn’t scary enough for all you gearheads, the grim fate of these muscle cars is probably bad enough to give you nightmares.
In this made for TV Spielberg classic an eerie game of cat and mouse turns into a merciless chase as a deranged truck driver attempts to run down David Mann in his pathetic little four door Valiant. Being an early 70’s TV movie it’s no surprise Duel is slow paced and a little bit cheesy, so only true Mopar fans will stick around to cheer on this underdog Plymouth. Movie makers testify that the Valiant model was an intentional choice as it was one of the few cars of 1970 that truly wouldn’t be able to outrun a Peterbilt big rig, yet has the durability to take the smashes, crashes, and off-roading in this fierce pursuit. It’s no doubt that Chrysler’s leaning tower of power plays a believable role in the film as well, what other engine could continue running at over 250 degrees with 0 oil pressure? Like a loyal canine this Valiant served it’s desperate owner till the end. It’s officially unknown what become of the two Plymouths used in the film but viewers can only assume they meet their demise. While watching be sure to keep you eyes peeled for the plentiful background Mopars as well, and take note of the school bus scene that features a wild looking ’62 Dodge D600.
What could be more impressive than a heroic, silver bullet wielding vampire hunter? How about a heroic, silver bullet wielding vampire hunter who drives a murdered out, bottle fed ’68 Charger with a 440-6 pack? Sorry Buffy but you’ve got nothing on this guy; Eric Brooks is a damsel saving bad-boy who abides by no laws (especially traffic laws). While this ’68 Charger fits Blade’s ruthless look, it’s added gun-rack, and bloodsucker melting UV headlights make it a practical choice for any vampire slayer. Not only does this creature feature have a happy ending but the car does too (yay!) The one and only Charger used to film Blade was reportedly sold by the movie studio to a man from Vancouver in 2004 who pulled the 383 that was used for filming and installed the correct 440 engine. It was auctioned off again in 2006 and sold for $40,000.