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Mopar brand marks 80th anniversary in 2017

The Mopar brand was born on August 1, 1937, as a contraction of the words “Motor Parts”. This year the brand celebrates 80 years of business covering over eight decades. First introduced as the name of a line of antifreeze products, the Mopar brand has since transformed to encompass total service, parts and customer care for FCA vehicle owners around the globe.

“The Mopar brand holds an unparalleled place in the automotive world, possessing name recognition, scope of service and passionate enthusiasts unmatched by any other service and parts organization in the industry,” said Pietro Gorlier, Head of Parts and Service (Mopar), FCA – Global. “From humble beginnings as a simple name for antifreeze products, now the Mopar brand reaches customers in over 150 markets offering parts, service and innovative care throughout the whole customer journey.”

Mopar AntifreezeAfter its introduction in 1937, the Mopar brand quickly began to stand for more than just antifreeze. The brand made a name for itself in the muscle-car era of the 1960s, cementing a legacy on the streets and at the dragstrip that by decade’s end would have owners referring to their vehicles as “Mopar” cars.

Over the last decade, Mopar has transformed into a global service, parts and customer-care brand for all FCA vehicle owners. The Mopar brand also introduced a series of limited-edition Mopar vehicles built at the factory, beginning with the Mopar '10 Challenger. A new special-edition Mopar vehicle has been introduced each year since, the most recent being the Mopar '16 Ram Rebel, with 3,650 limited-run Mopar vehicles sold since that first in 2010.

On the product side, in conjunction with the Jeep brand, Mopar created a new Jeep Performance Parts line to deliver trail-ready parts to off-roaders. In late 2016, new Mopar Crate HEMI Engine Kits were brought to market, enabling enthusiasts to drop modern HEMI power into classic, 1975 or earlier, rides.

In 1937, six years after the Chrysler Motors Parts Corporation plant was set up in the company’s complex in Highland Park, Michigan, an internal marketing think tank was tasked with developing a name to brand the antifreeze used in Chrysler cars. Mopar was that name.

One of the first presentations of the Mopar name to the public occurred when Chrysler was asked to provide a float for a parade that opened the annual Shriner’s convention, held in 1937 in Detroit. The company built a 10-foot-tall camel, made entirely of automotive parts, featuring signs on both sides that read: “Mr. Mopar.” A small “mechanical man” named ACCY (for accessories) was placed on the float as if leading the camel.

The war years in the 1940s saw Mopar and Chrysler shift production to military parts, weapons and vehicles. Like all major manufacturers, resources were dedicated to victory in WWII. By mid-decade, after the war, Mopar moved into a building on Jefferson Avenue in Detroit, and soon after in 1947, the Master Tech training program was launched to give Chrysler technicians the best skills possible.

In 1953, Mopar grew in both number of plants nationwide and in number of available parts. The Center Line, Michigan, Mopar Parts Depot opened with much fanfare, a sprawling and bustling parts center that still flourishes. Today, the facility houses more than 1,300 employees and more than 16.5 million parts are shipped out annually from the Center Line complex.

With the birth of the HEMI engine, Chrysler Group race cars hit tracks, launching the high-performance theme that would soon set the tone for the next “personality” of the Mopar brand.

As the 1960s progressed, so did Mopar. Electrical items and glass products were added to the Mopar parts line, and racing was becoming the measure of production cars. Chrysler introduced the 1962-64 Max Wedge performance engines and package cars, and America’s love for horsepower took off.

Meanwhile, a group of Chrysler engineers calling themselves the Ramchargers had been working nights and weekends to make their project cars faster at the track. The high-performance parts they developed led to the Mopar Direct Connection brand of racing parts. Direct Connection parts were first given only to professional racers, but later sold to anyone who wanted to dominate at the track. One racer who took notice was “Big Daddy” Don Garlits, an innovator, icon and champion in drag racing who became a lifelong brand ambassador for Mopar. The Garlits and Mopar names stayed intertwined throughout his legendary, record-setting career.

Winning at the track meant sales in the showroom, and Chrysler and its package cars were winners. The ultimate race engine, the 426 HEMI, took tracks by storm in 1964, followed by a takeover of the streets with the 426 Street HEMI in '66. By the late '60s and early '70s, proud Chrysler, Dodge and Plymouth performance enthusiasts had adopted the word Mopar to describe any and all of their vehicles. And the competition learned to fear the name.

The last package cars of the era appeared in 1968, when Chrysler built a series of Dodge Dart and Plymouth Barracuda HEMI Super Stock cars. The legacy remains as these race vehicles are still among the quickest and fastest in the Super Stock categories of NHRA racing. Mopar honors these cars by sponsoring the special NHRA Mopar HEMI Challenge each year.

The 1970s and '80s led to many changes in the auto industry with tightening emissions controls, gas shortages and the end of the muscle-car era. The Direct Connection line of Mopar performance parts launched for all performance enthusiasts, not just racers, and was later changed to Mopar Performance to capitalize on the strong Mopar heritage. By 1987, Chrysler purchased the assets of American Motors and the Jeep brand came into the family, resulting in the addition of Jeep parts and accessories to the expanding Mopar portfolio.

The 1990s were less about change and more about strengthening the Mopar foundation. Emphasis was doubled-down on technician training, utilizing programs like the Mopar College Automotive Program (CAP) introduced a few years earlier.

In 2008, paying homage to its performance heritage, Mopar introduced its first factory-built “package car” in 40 years, called the Mopar Dodge Challenger Drag Pak. The 100 package cars sold out quickly, and new Drag Pak models have sold out in subsequent years.

In 2010, the brand produced the first of an ongoing series of limited-edition factory vehicles, the Mopar '10 Challenger. Production was limited to 500 of the vehicles, modified at the factory with Mopar parts and accessories. Other low-run, factory-produced Mopar rides would follow: the Mopar '11 Charger, Mopar '12 300, Mopar '13 Dart, Mopar '14 Challenger, Mopar '15 Dodge Charger R/T and Mopar '16 Ram Rebel.

While expanding globally, Mopar stayed true to its DNA by supporting drag racers in National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) competition, from Sportsman to professionals. The brand powered to back-to-back NHRA Pro Stock championships in 2012-2013. Mopar-sponsored Dodge Charger R/T fuel teams fielded by Don Schumacher Racing have dominated the NHRA Funny Car class, claiming four championships in the last six years and spearheading the capture of the NHRA Manufacturers Cup by the Mopar and Dodge brands in 2016.

01/05/17

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