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LX-rated love-in: Web forum members make their virtual passion real

Tue, 13 Jul 2010

The Dodge Charger, the Challenger and the Chrysler 300C share more than what Chrysler calls its LX platform.

They also share an enthusiastic owner base at the Web site, where for the last six years more than 33,000 enthusiastic owners have met virtually to share information, photos and love for their cars.

Event founder and 2005 300C owner John Fortuno calls it a "modern-day version of the car club." Five years ago he decided to "bring the virtual to reality" by staging a Spring Festival car show in Southern California where members could meet in person.

With support from Chrysler along with aftermarket vendors, the 2010 meet drew 650 cars from 25 states, Canada and Mexico.

Albert Ross, who lost a leg while serving in Iraq, didn't let that interfere with driving his 2006 Charger SXT from Texas. A former Mazda loyalist, he fell in love with the Charger concept and couldn't wait to buy the production version. His car sports four Lambo-style doors, 22-inch Viper replica wheels, dual sunroofs, a supercharger and a lowered suspension.

Why make the 20-hour drive to California?

"I come to see the cars. We've all done something to them since the last time."

While loyalties seemed evenly divided, the Magnum inspired the most creativity. Frank Mora's white '05 featured a lowered '50s custom look including spotlights, rear skirts, a Continental tire kit, wide 22-inch whitewalls and the obligatory fuzzy dice.

"I hate new cars," he explained. "Until I saw the Magnum and it reminded me of a '57 Nomad or an old Mercury."

Although 22-inch wheels, Lambo doors and Ed Hardy-inspired paint schemes definitely made their presence known, this was hardly a "blingfest." Many owners were first-time Chrysler or domestic-car owners.

Most people just went to put a face with a forum name. And to share the passion they have for their cars.

By Patrick C. Paternie