​Parade of floats for automotive revelers

Brazilian journalists extol passion for honoring and accelerating Mopar supercars at traditional Woodward Dream Cruise, USA

October 4, 2019 - #FCAMeLevaDeNovo! (FCA Take me again!) This hashtag aptly reflects the reaction of a group of automotive journalists from Brazil after visiting – at the invitation of the FCA Group – the 2019 edition of Woodward Dream Cruise, an annual meeting in Detroit (USA) and every car lover's dreams. And believe me: once is not enough! "It is impossible not to want to go again. I would like to have spent two days on the avenue", says Jorge Moraes, editor at the Diário de Pernambuco and anchor of CBN Motor on CBN Recife radio station.

Following the tradition that began in 1995, the climax of the event took place on the third Saturday of August, on the 21-mile long Woodward Avenue through several cities in the metropolitan area of ​​Detroit, Michigan. According to the organizers, throughout the week of the event, 1.5 million people attended the parade of no less than 40,000 cars of various brands.

As usual, the region becomes quite busy a few days before the event and on Friday the huge road connecting the cities of Detroit and Pontiac are taken over by the public, either by driving in cars that are not normally seen (not even in the United States) or on the sidewalk, admiring the machines, which also include models prepared by Mopar, the FCA brand dedicated to customizing vehicles and all other aftermarket aspects. You can even find amazing cars in shop parking lots or on side streets.

"The Mopar universe presented there shows how big and important the brand is for Americans. Those who like the good old classic cars and have V8 in their veins are very impressed", says Moraes, who, like other Brazilian journalists, had the opportunity to accelerate ten highly "Moparized" vehicles. "It was amazing. Mopar's ability to turn an old body car into a modern, demonic beast is impressive", emphasizes the editor of the TV Auto Motor program. He drove a 1967 Plymouth Belvedere renamed Hellvedere (with new badge and all), for getting a 707-hp HEMI 6.2-liter V8 Supercharged with 650 lb.-ft of torque under its hood. This is Hellcrate, a kit for vintage cars sold by Mopar in North America that includes the same engine as the Hellcat versions of the Dodge Challenger and Charger as well as the Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk.

This muscle car has thrilled everyone. "It is an intimidating car because it is too strong and does not have ABS, traction control or stability", explains Rodrigo Mora, editor of the blog Mora nos Classicos, by UOL Carros. "Its roar is brutal, like the grumbling of a grumpy rhino. The six-speed Tremec Magnum shifter is not delicate in the shifts, but it's wonderfully short and precise. There is excessive play in the steering, but for some reason I found this attractive because it makes you more afraid of driving fast."

Editor-in-chief and host of the Vrum automotive program, Clayton Souza named the Dodge Shakedown Challenger concept the most fun car he drove on the Woodward Dream Cruise. "It has incredible strength, with the deep mechanics upgrades ranging from the 485-hp HEMI V8 to the high-performance Brembo brakes. It was a lot of fun to drive it", he says. Created in 2016, this "Super Dodge" was assembled from the body of a 1971 Challenger, but with several modern touches, such as the LED lights from its current namesake car and the steering wheel of the Dodge Viper.

Editorial Director of Motor1 Website Daniel Messeder also got excited behind the wheel of the Shakedown. "Seeing the V8 engine screeching with every hard step on the accelerator was really remarkable, not to mention the impressions behind the wheel. I enjoyed the agile steering responses and the very short gear ratio. In fact, it's worth remembering that the steering gear and transmission are the latest generation in the Viper", he highlights.

The Dodge Shakedown Challenger impresses even from behind, with its oversized tires, lowered suspension and the current Challenger taillights adapted to the 1971 body. A machine built to go fast that knows how to stop thanks to the Brembo brakes.The Dodge Shakedown Challenger impresses even from behind, with its oversized tires, lowered suspension and the current Challenger taillights adapted to the 1971 body. A machine built to go fast that knows how to stop thanks to the Brembo brakes.

Amazing Woodward

Having recently participated in another very traditional gathering, the Goodwood Festival in England– famous for bringing together classic racing cars and supercars – Rodrigo Mora was able to compare both events. "Goodwood is an automotive orgy, where you run into Horacio Pagani [founder of the car brand that bears his name] or Jackie Stewart [three-time Formula 1 champion] as if it were your neighbor at the supermarket, and you’re close to legends like Ferraris and Schumacher's Benettons and Senna's McLaren MP4/4. Woodward, on the other hand, is the V8 pride parade, the type of engine so discriminated lately", he compared.

"And Woodward still has two essential factors. One is human madness, because I don't know of any event in the world where you can see a truck-sized grocery cart ripping down the avenue at 90 km/h, with a spiky engine mounted who knows where and a crazy guy at the top where we usually put kids, driving it. And there is another unexpected scene: you know basically what will take place at Goodwood, at least for the main events, but not at Woodward. Almost everything is a pleasant surprise! At the Goodwood Festival you think: 'I can’t believe I'm here.' At the Woodward Festival I thought: 'I'm having a great time here.' I felt more comfortable at Woodward, certainly."

The official Woodward Dream Cruise route does not reach the entire length of the avenue, but it comes close, extending 25.6 km. Despite this, there is no starting point or finish line. To participate, just go on the road, which is normally open to traffic. The way the audience participates is another charismatic differential of the American event. "The mood and disposition of families who spend all day on the avenue undoubtedly draws attention. Many bring tents to camp and spend the weekend enjoying the parade of dream cars", comments Jorge Moraes. "It was beautiful to see the local people and the visitors spread folding chairs on the sidewalk to watch the parade of cars, just like you would at our Carnival, for example. It’s an event that brings out the pride within all Americans", adds Rodrigo Mora.

The editor of the blog Mora nos Clássicos affirms that he will always have fond memories of his first participation at the Woodward Festival. "For starters, the FCA crew was really happy to welcome us there. For those guys, it’s not just a job; they’re really proud of the event and the enjoyment in people’s faces with their Jeep, Ram, Dodge, Chrysler… It was really special."

If there is still any doubt about the group of journalists wanting to return to the event, Clayton Souza and Daniel Messeder make this very clear: "It’s impossible to see everything in just one afternoon. I just wish I could sit on the sidewalk the whole weekend. I'll be there next year", says Souza. "There can never be too much fun. Besides, I would love to participate in other ones, because every year they have different products, especially FCA itself, which always develops prototypes for parades", adds Messeder.

The glove box lid is a reminder that before receiving the 6.2-liter HEMI V8 "Hellcrate" engine, this 1967 Plymouth was named as the almost bucolic Belvedere II name. The next picture shows the new baptism record...The glove box lid is a reminder that before receiving the 6.2-liter HEMI V8 "Hellcrate" engine, this 1967 Plymouth was named as the almost bucolic Belvedere II name. The next picture shows the new baptism record...

Mopar or No Car

Brazil’s FCA communication advisor Nicolas Borges, who already has three trips to the WDC under his belt, accompanied the four journalists on the trip "I'm already calling myself the most experienced Brazilian communication professional at the Woodward Dream Cruise", he says as he remembers fondly his first trip in 2009, as a journalist and in 2015 as FCA staff.

"But this was by far the most special because, for the first time, Mopar provided our guests with ten very special machines that show a bit of the breadth of the brand within the group. And thus, they were able to actively participate in this great celebration of the American automotive culture."

Borges highlights the variety of Mopar-prepared models that range from Jeep prototype vehicles made for the traditional Easter Jeep Safari in Moab, an off-road mecca in the US, to the two Ram 1500 Big Horn pickups, with very different styles. The more conceptual, more urban-styled Lowdown with low-hanging suspension and low profile tires, designed for off-roads, is fully accessible for being developed only with accessories from Mopar's vast shelves. "That pickup, by the way, was the only vehicle I could drive. And it was worth it too, because by the time I gave it that little acceleration at the first traffic light exit, the deep roar of the special stainless steel exhaust system transported me right away in my mind to the classic muscle cars from Dodge, Chrysler or Plymouth. As they say over there, it's 'Mopar or no car'" he concludes.

Words: Leandro Alvares

Pictures: Marketing

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