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2018 Adelaide Chrysler Festival

Back to Tonsley

The home of Chrysler in Australia

The Chrysler Club of SA presented the Adelaide Chrysler Festival over the weekend of 23rd to 25th of February 2018.

Over the three days there were four events planned.  Firstly a run to Birdwood Museum on the Friday.  As we drove to Adelaide that day we couldn’t be involved in that, but we did make the Chrysler Bar in Tonsley Hotel for a social event that evening.

A full sized sliced Charger graces the wall of the Chrysler Bar at the Tonsley Hotel

There were two guest speakers who presented a very detailed history of Chrysler in Australia, and in particular Adelaide.  First up was Gavin Farmer, a resident of the Adelaide Hills, author and historian of all things Chrysler.  A new book was due to be released that weekend.

Following Gavin was long time Chrysler engineer, Roger Caroll.  He related many stories involving development and testing of the Hemi motors, the design of the Charger bodies, and the high performance motors of the Charger series.  The theme for the presentations was “History and Innovation”, as the current development of the Tonsley site moves towards an Innovation Centre.

Saturday presented some free time until late afternoon when the “Mega Cruise” was held.  The course took the Mopar fleet in and around the western suburbs and City centre before finishing at the Welland Shopping Centre.  A good assortment of classic Mopar vehicles, even some not of Chrysler heritage took part.

“Maybe when I grow up I will turn into a Mopar!”

Sunday was to be the big day – and BIG it was!  306 Chryslers assembled under the main roof of the original Tonsley Park assembly plant.  The overflow spread throughout the new development.  From 10:00 am the place became very busy across the Swap Meet and car display area.  Due to the number on display, the cars were parked in order of arrival, therefore the various models were not grouped.

There was plenty of chrome. Tonnes of it!

There were plenty of fins on display, particularly on the early imported Dodge models.

…. and of course more fins on the locally assembled Chrysler Royals.

Some dashes then had just as many buttons, all chrome and minus the electronics.

The display both in size and variety was amazing.  Despite many walks through the area it was difficult to see and experience it all.  It was pleasing to meet up with my brother-in-law who was a 45 year long term employee of Chrysler.  With a detailed map of the area provided, it was an experience to hear him identify that, “the panel press stood on this line”, “the motors were installed from here to there”, “this is where the paint shop was.”  Unbelievable.

It was eerie to stand where the mega-ton panel press once stood. You could almost sense the vibrations.

….and to stand in the paint shop, without the smell of paint.

The trip home was uneventful (mechanically wise),  as was the journey over to Adelaide.  All in all, over 1950 ks for our beautiful 1967 Dodge Phoenix.  So enjoyable was it, that it is on my agenda to do it again next year!

Article contributed by Richard Forsaith.  

Thank you Richard.