Friday, January 13, 2017

Happy Birthday MOPAR

If you've owned a Chrysler, Dodge, JEEP, or Ram vehicle you should be familiar with the name MOPAR, which is a division of Fiat Chrysler Automobile's (FCA) responsible for providing the accessories and replacement parts utilized in customizing, servicing and repairing the cars, trucks, and minivans sold by the global automotive manufacturer.  Over the years MOPAR's role has evolved beyond just being an aftermarket parts provider to becoming the brand identity encompassing all aspects of post-purchase customer-care and repairs for FCA vehicle owners.  While many car manufacturers have spun-off and divested their internal parts supply operations (for example GM's became Delphi and Visteon was originally Ford automotive parts division), over the years FCA has enhanced the image and importance of MOPAR within its operations and with its customers.  MOPAR is celebrating a milestone year with 2017 being its 80th anniversary.  Happy birthday MOPAR!

MOPAR (a simple contraction of the words MOtor and PARts) originated on August 1, 1937, as the name of the antifreeze used in Chrysler's cars. MOPAR has since evolved over 80 years to serve as the total service, parts and customer-care brand of all FCA vehicles around the globe.  That change came in a variety of phases though.  First in the 1940's and 50's, MOPAR expanded beyond anti-freeze to incorporate other vehicle parts and products eventually representing Chrysler's entire aftermarket segment.

In the 1960's era of muscle cars, MOPAR began an association with car racing that continues today.  Chrysler engineers at that time were being specifically assigned to work on projects that would make the race cars the company was sponsoring faster on the track.  Of course Chrysler wanted the cars they were associated with to regularly be appearing in the winner circles of racing circuits as that provided the company's products with greater visibility and prestige.  Winning at the track meant improved sales in dealership showrooms of Chrysler vehicles. MOPAR's 426 HEMI® was the dominate engine on professional race circuits in the 1960's which led to the creation of the MOPAR Direct Connection racing products line which only supplied professional motor sports teams.  Chrysler, Dodge and Plymouth vehicles became known as "MOPAR cars" based upon their HEMI engines and other specialty parts that were giving them an edge on the race track. So impressed was Don “Big Daddy” Garlits, known as the father of drag racing, he became a life-long brand ambassador of MOPAR products association with motor sport racing.

As fans began purchasing the Chrysler vehicles they were seeing competing on tracks, MOPAR opened up its line of specialty racing upgrades to the mass public.  Now anyone who who wanted to build a hot rod could have a "MOPAR car."  After a lull in popularity from the late 1980's through early 2000's, a cable television show helped revive enthusiasm for MOPAR with the auto racing and classic car crowd.  Taking up the mantle of brand ambassador from "Big Daddy" Garlits for a new generation of car buffs is Richard Rawlings.  Rawlings who is known for restoring derelict cars into incredible hot rods at his Dallas, Texas-based Gas Monkey Garage through the popular television show FAST N' LOUD is never one to miss touting the virtues of MOPAR products. You can catch FAST N' LOUD on cable television's Discovery Channel.

MOPAR's influence in motor sports declined a bit in the 1980s & '90s but it has continued to stay true to its DNA by continually supporting drag racers in National Hot Rod Association (NHRA).  More recently 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 also 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.

Embracing its racing heritage, MOPAR also reintroduced producing limited-edition high performance vehicles that utilize technology developed for use on race tracks the last ten years starting with the 2008 MOPAR Dodge Challenger Drag Pak. Based upon that vehicle selling out, in 2010,  the first of an ongoing series of limited-edition factory vehicles began with the MOPAR ’10 Challenger. These cars are modified at the factory with MOPAR parts and accessories creating some of the best 21st Century manufactured hot rods from a car manufacturer that you'll see. These cars have included the MOPAR’11 Charger, MOPAR ’12 300, MOPAR ’13 Dart, MOPAR ’14 Challenger, MOPAR ’15 Dodge Charger R/T and MOPAR ’16 Ram Rebel.  You don't want to challenge any of these cars to be the first through an intersection when you are stopped next to one at a red light!

Most of us won't be racing a "MOPAR car" on a race track or dragstrip but rather know MOPAR because it how FCA dealerships are branding their service departments now.  Consumers recognize MOPAR when it comes to getting an oil change or some sort of repair or other service need for their car.  In 2008, MOPAR unveiled its first Mopar Express Lane operation, a fast oil change and light service business model that would reshape how people viewed service visits to automotive dealerships. Quick turnaround, no appointments required and competitive pricing proved to be on target, and now there are more than 1,000 Mopar Express Lane operation in the United States.  I LIKE quick yet professional service and this move actually led me to begin going to the dealership for oil changes for my JEEP.  One of the aspects I've appreciated as a consumer when it comes to MOPAR parts that I wanted to mention as well concerns how they are engineered.   MOPAR products are created together with the same teams that craft factory-authorized specifications for FCA vehicles, where many competing brands outsource this work to outside vendors.

What started out as the name for antifreeze over 80 years has become one of the most trusted brands in the automotive industry.   Today, the MOPAR brand distributes more than 500,000 parts and accessories in over 150 markets. Plus it coordinates dealer service standards and provides tech support for FCA dealerships across the globe.  I was concerned when Fiat gained control of Chrysler that the company's American heritage would be eroded but if anything as part of FCA the MOPAR brand is expanding its influence within the overall company.  While MOPAR has had a nice ride over the last 80 years it looks like there is still a long road to go for this iconic automotive brand.

MOPAR will be celebrating its 80th birthday in a variety of ways throughout 2017.  Keep an eye out for announcements regarding limited-edition anniversary vehicles, 80th anniversary-themed service, parts and customer-care offers for customers, as well as special merchandise, events, celebrations and more.  For news and updates about MOPAR follow their Twitter account @OfficialMOPAR or visit

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