From Motor Parts to Mopar:
March 29, 2017
The Mopar brand, born on Aug. 1, 1937, as a contraction of the words “Motor Parts,” celebrates 80 years in 2017, marking an amazing evolution over eight decades.
Mopar is born
In 1937, six years after the Chrysler Motors Parts Corporation plant was set up in the company’s complex in Highland Park, Mich., 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 ’40s and beyond
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, Mich., 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.
In the 1960s, racers like “Big Daddy” Don Garlits helped cement the brand’s winning legacy in drag racing.
Mopar in the high-performance ’60s and ’70s
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 1960s and early 1970s, 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.
1972 Mopar Ad
Pietro Gorlier, Head of Parts and Service (Mopar), FCA – Global, on the role of Mopar and the brand’s 80th Anniversary. (English subtitles)
2010 - Mopar introduces the Mopar ’10 Challenger, the first in a series of limited-edition Mopar vehicles.
1950s - The Center Line, Michigan, Mopar Parts Depot opens to supply products in a timely fashion to critical markets.
1946-1959 MoPar Manual
1963 Mopar Wire & Cable Ad
A Mopar ad from 1972
In the ’70s, Mopar also became the first to offer a dedicated parts delivery system, setting a new standard of dealer service. The successful system was refreshed and revamped in the late 1990s.
More changes coming
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 Mopar Service and Parts Division was growing in new directions, with new goals and ambitions. What had previously been a name squarely aimed at parts and service was now being prepped to move into the new century as a brand that would represent parts, service and total customer care.
A new century begins
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 concert with community colleges around the country, the two-year training-internship CAP program supported by Mopar continues to produce the best skilled automotive technicians around.
By the time the new millennium rolled in, training and technology were key words at Mopar. The era also ushered in an updated design of the Mopar Omega M logo, cylinders fired on the new Gen III HEMI engine and Mopar deepened its motorsports participation.
Beginning to pivot to a world of globalization and high-technology vehicles, techniques and tools, Mopar was poised to be a leader in enhancing the customer experience.
In 2008, paying homage to its performance heritage, Mopar introduced its first factory-built drag race ‘package car’ in 40 years, the Mopar Dodge Challenger Drag Pak.
Commitment to customer care
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 led to the opening of the 1,000th Mopar Express Lane operation in the United States in 2016.
Mopar stayed busy, working on technological innovations designed to improve the customer experience. A number of industry firsts were introduced, including the first smartphone vehicle-information apps for owners and wiTECH, a dealer software diagnosis program used by Mopar technicians to simplify the repair process.
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.
A global brand
In recent years, Mopar has accelerated its transformation into a brand responsible for the customer journey of all FCA vehicles around globe. Embodying that customer-centric approach, a new “At Your Service” tagline was introduced. By 2016, more than 1,750 Mopar Express Lane locations were operational in more than 20 countries around the world. The brand has also shined on the biggest stages, making regular appearances at international auto shows.
Customers were given the option of adding Mopar accessories during the ordering process and having their vehicle delivered to the dealership with accessories installed and included on the window sticker through a network of 11 Mopar Custom Shops worldwide. The newest Mopar Custom Shops, in Mexico and Brazil, opened in late 2015. Construction began in 2016 on two new Mopar PDCs in the United States, soon to join the current network of over 50 PDCs in more than 20 countries, established to service owners and dealers across the globe.
The Mopar service experience was further enhanced in 2012 when Mopar service lanes were first to incorporate the use of wiADVISOR, a tablet-based service lane check-in tool that immediately downloads vehicle and customer data from the vehicle computer and connects with factory engineering databases to get customers in and out quickly.
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.
Mopar continued to create parts and accessories to help owners design rides that suit their individual lifestyles. The brand introduced a popular new Jeep Performance Parts line to deliver trail-ready parts to off-roaders and, in late 2016, brought new Mopar Crate HEMI Engine Kits to market, enabling enthusiasts to drop modern HEMI power into classic vehicles from 1975 and earlier.
From its birth 80 years ago, Mopar now serves customers in more than 150 markets, provides total customer care and offers a portfolio of more than 500,000 parts and accessories — a long journey from its humble origins as an antifreeze brand.