Mopars @ Baker’s

1971 Plymouth 'Cuda

Baker’s of Milford is a neighborhood restaurant with a special affinity toward classic cars. From the first Sunday in May until the last Sunday in September, Baker’s sponsors the Sunday Night Cruise, an eclectic car show held on the restaurant’s lawn and parking lots. Over 100 classic car owners participate in this event each weekend, vying for prizes, purchasing 50/50 raffle tickets for a community charity, enjoying the performance of a local magician, and listening to songs from the 1950s and 1960s. Baker’s also offers a 10% restaurant discount to all Sunday Cruise participants. It should be no surprise that classic car enthusiasts in southeastern Michigan make at least one trip to Baker’s during the balmy summer months.

The car-friendly atmosphere of Baker’s also makes it a frequent choice for other classic car events. On Saturday, July 30, the second annual Mopar @ Baker’s – an all Chrysler, AMC, and Jeep show – was held on the restaurant’s adjacent grounds. Close to 400 cars, from classic to contemporary, competed for prizes in 28 Mopar categories. The show was sponsored by the Michigan Mopar Muscle Club, which boasts over 130 members. As my husband is an MMM member, I had spoken with a number of female members with classic muscle cars at previous club activities. However, due to the popularity of Mopars in this part of the state, I was hopeful that a few more muscle-car-driving-women would attend this well publicized event.

As the cars filed in throughout the morning, I followed the roar of a black 1965 Plymouth Barracuda with a woman behind the wheel. The owner has driven the car for twelve years, and assured me that she has a number of great stories to tell about her experiences with this piece of automotive history. I also caught up with the spouse of a woman with whom I have been communicating through email. He assured me that the project consent form would be passed on to his wife, a muscle car owner and one of the first female mechanical engineering graduates from the General Motors Institute (now Kettering University). In the section of featured Mopars, I discovered a Sunfire Yellow 1972 ‘Cuda owned by a female MMM member. As she was working at the show, I only had a chance to speak with her briefly; I hope she will take the time to talk with me further at a future date.

Mopars @ Baker’s was open to all Chrysler, AMC, and Jeep products; classic (25 years or older) status was not a requirement for inclusion in this event. Parked among the classic muscle cars on display were a number of contemporary Dodge Chargers and Challengers. Many of these modern muscle cars are owned and driven by women. This may be reflective of a growing female muscle car movement; Chrysler reports that for the 2009 and 2010 model years, women purchased 26 percent of Dodge Charger R/T and Charger SRT8 models (Ransom, 9 Aug 2010). While many of these women are too young to remember the classic muscle car, they have created a space for themselves in modern day muscle car culture through possession of one of its most recent and successful incarnations. The twenty-first century Challenger and Charger, while taking a few style cues from the past, are completely modern in engineering and technology. However, like their predecessors, they are all about power, presence, and attitude. A Motor Trend reviewer described the 2011 Challenger as big, brash, and unapologetic, and went on to remark, “half of the Challenger’s appeal is that it’s so politically incorrect” (Lieberman, 24 Nov 2010). Women who drive contemporary Challengers and Chargers – or what Motor Trend refers to as “old school done right” – are not likely to fancy hybrids or minivans. And while they understand and respect the muscle car’s place in automotive history, they desire a vehicle with the power and performance modern day technology and engineering make possible.

In Driving Women, Deborah Clarke (2007) suggests that in the context of the contemporary automobile, the image of a man working on his car has become largely obsolete, as very few drivers, male or female, possess the sophisticated technological knowledge to work on today’s cars. The increased computerization of the automobile, Clarke asserts, has led to a “somewhat more level playing field between men and women and their cars” (p. 193). While the majority of women who participate in classic muscle car culture do so with husbands or boyfriends, who often double as mechanics, many of the women who drive contemporary Challengers and Chargers to car events do so alone. While the modern day muscle car and the female driver is outside the scope of this project, I intend to return to it at a later point. Such an examination will not only offer insight into another segment of women as participants in car culture, but will also provide an understanding of how women’s relationship with the muscle car has changed over time.


Clarke, D. (2007). Driving women: Fiction and automobile culture in twentieth-century America. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press.

Lieberman, J. (2010). First test: Dodge Challenger R/T. Motor Trend <>

Ransom, K. (2010). Not all horsepower addicts are men. Aol autos. <>

One thought on “Mopars @ Baker’s

    #   gil on 05.05.19 at 6:53 am     


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