“You have to be a very talkative guy when you drive this car,” Oliver told me. That makes sense. If you were driving a beautifully restored 1967 Chrysler Newport anywhere in the US, you’d get a lot of attention and questions and comments from folks. Imagine how many Oliver gets when he drives his Newport around Germany!
Oliver and I sat on opposite sides of the Atlantic Ocean for my first-ever GHR Zoom call. Thankfully, Oliver’s English is excellent, much better than my German, even though I took three years of German in high school. (In my defense, high school was a long time ago for me.) It was a lot of fun for us to talk about the Newport, named Alfredo.
We all name our cars, and Oliver and his wife Susi are no exception. They have a great method for determining their cars’ names: they give the car the previous owner’s name. That’s why they have a Jeep Cherokee named Herbert, and the beautiful Newport named Alfredo.
With him owning a Jeep and a Chrysler, it was clear Oliver enjoyed American cars. And every hot rodder anywhere in the world will understand why he does.
“To be honest, the first thing I fell in love with was the sound of a V8 motor,” Oliver told me. “I really like the exhaust sound. When you hear it, you just know that a V8 is coming.” Naturally, both of Oliver’s American cars have custom exhaust systems.
Certainly for him, and Oliver thinks for a lot of Europeans, the Ford Mustang was the first car that stirred a love of American performance cars. “If you ask people here to name any American car,” he said, “I’m pretty sure anyone would say Mustang.”
In addition, Oliver’s had lots of in-person help developing his hot rodding interest. In 2018, a new neighbor, Thomas, moved into Oliver’s building with a 1972 Plymouth Gold Duster. “He’s a mechanic,” he told me. “He works on it himself. It’s in very good condition. And he has lots of friends who are car guys. Most of them have older American V8 cars and Harleys.”
Oliver started hanging out with these hot rodders and they soon became friends. One of their group activities is to go to Mopar car shows.
“There’s a big Mopar scene in Germany,” Oliver said. “In 2019 there was a Mopar meet near Hamburg. Five of us went to the meet for the weekend. There were probably about 50 Mopar cars there. That was the weekend where I decided to buy a Mopar.”
And the seed had already planted for which Mopar Oliver would end up buying.
A few weeks before that meet, a work colleague of Oliver’s wanted to buy a Bronco from a dealer in Germany who imports American cars. The colleague asked Oliver to come with him to check out the Bronco. While he was there, Oliver saw the Newport. He knew Thomas had been interested in getting a four door Mopar C-body, so Oliver took some photos of the Newport at the dealership to show his neighbor.
Thomas wasn’t ready to buy, but Oliver was. He and his friends talked about it at that Mopar meet. “I told the guys at the Mopar meeting,” Oliver said, “and they said ‘You have to buy that car!’”
Oliver was ready to buy the car. His friends were ready for Oliver to buy the car. There was just one more thing…
“The biggest problem for me was to convince my wife to buy the car,” Oliver said. “I came from the weekend and took a walk with my wife. ‘You can’t buy another car,’ she said. I told her if the car’s not that good I think I can sell it and I think I’ll get the same price. Somehow I was lucky that day and I convinced her. ‘OK, you know what?,’ she said. ‘Just do what you want.’ That was a go for me.”
The next day Oliver went to the dealership with one of his friends who could take a look at the car from a more technical point of view. That friend gave his OK. Two weeks later Oliver had the Newport.
The Chrysler came with the ubiquitous 6.3 liter Mopar, better known as a 383 to Americans. Oliver says the big block is still “quite stock.” There were a few leaks that had to be fixed – but nothing unexpected for a 1967 car. The major change he’s made is to replace the Newport’s single exhaust with a TTI dual exhaust and Flowmaster mufflers. “My neighbor also has Flowmaster mufflers,” Oliver said, “and I really love that sound. It’s pretty loud.”
Although the 6.3L is still running smoothly, Oliver thinks he may have to pull it for some major work within the next year or so because of some knocking.
The three-speed automatic transmission and the rest of the drivetrain are factory stock. The trans also had a few leaks that had to be addressed, but again nothing unexpected for a car of this age. The suspension and brakes are also stock, although Oliver has just ordered new rear shocks from Rock Auto in the US. The new shocks are heavier duty than the originals, and will raise the rear of the Newport a little bit.
There are parts sources for American cars in Germany, but Oliver frequently relies on Rock Auto anyway. His recent experience with needing brake parts really convinced him.
“In Germany,” he told me, “we have to have the cars inspected every two years – to make sure you don’t drive a crappy car. The brakes were not very good at my inspection. I contacted a local shop. They said they could order it, it will take 3-6 weeks, and cost 600 Euros. I checked with Rock Auto: 80 Euros each. Even with shipping it’s cheaper. I pressed submit on Sunday and on Tuesday they arrived. I love Rock Auto. They are amazing.”
As part of the brake job, Oliver had to change out the brake fluid. He’s never done that before, but one of his buddies helped him and now Oliver will be able to do it himself next time. His friends Siggi and Andreas have been helpful to Oliver in many ways.
Oliver has had to pay for very little of the mechanical work on the Newport thanks to his friends. Two of them have lifts in their garage. They all have specialized tools they let Oliver use. It’s great to know that hot rodders all over the world are generous with their time and knowledge.
The body and paint are just as they were when Oliver purchased the Chrysler, although he has fixed a few small rust spots. Oliver has seen some older pictures of the Newport and he says the paint is the same color, but deeper than it used to be. It’s his understanding that the car had a minor fender bender in 2010 and got repainted after the repair work was done. The Newport’s chrome is also in good shape, especially after Oliver has put a lot of elbow grease into polishing it. New steel wheels and center caps replaced the full wheel covers Alfredo used to have, and give the car more of a hot rod look.
The interior is also 1967 C-body factory stock, down to the column shifter and bench seats. Although still comfortable, the springs on the seats are getting worn and Oliver is thinking about replacing them and the upholstery. “I”m not really sure because I think the car will lose some of it’s old style,” he said, “but probably I’ll do it. It will add more value to the car.”
And while he’s in there, he’s probably going to replace the carpeting. Fifty-five years of use is starting to show. As part of that project, he’ll also address some rust that’s on the floor boards.
Oliver’s interest in classic cars has also provided some musical influences as well. He’s a big fan of classic rock (he really loves Rush) and rockabilly. But the Newport’s sound system still consists of the original AM radio. To get his music, Oliver has a bluetooth speaker connected to his mobile phone. He’s not planning on putting a new stereo system in the Newport, but ever since he installed the Flowmasters, he does think he might need a bigger bluetooth speaker. But then again, maybe not. He still loves to hear that V8 exhaust sound as much as any music.
For a 1967 car, the Newport was in remarkably good shape. It’s almost like that old story about the car being owned by a little old lady who just drove it to church on Sunday. Well, as a matter of fact…
There is a Blue Cross sticker in the upper corner of the windshield on the passenger side. Susi was reading it one day and saw that there were two names on it – a doctor’s and a woman’s. They Googled the names. They found what must have been the obituary for the woman. It said that was born in 1900 and died in 1998. It also contained the names of some of her family members.
Oliver found one of them, the woman’s granddaughter, on Facebook and messaged her. “I have this big blue car,” Oliver wrote. “Do you know it?”
The granddaughter said the Newport was her grandmother’s car. Her grandmother didn’t get her driver’s license until she was 67 years old and the Newport was her second car – which she bought in 1970, and sold in 1990. Oliver is thinking, probably correctly, that a woman aged 70 to 90 probably didn’t drive the car very hard. She sold the Newport to a surfer in California, and then it was sold to Alfredo, who was the last owner before Oliver and thus who the car was named after.
Oliver drives Alfredo frequently, especially in the summer. “I only take it out on nice days when it’s not raining,” Oliver said. “Here in Germany I never take it out in winter because they put salt on the road. As soon as they do that, the car stays in the garage.”
The Newport has been to car shows as well, although they’ve been less frequent since Covid. Often, Oliver attends the shows with his hot rodding buddies and their cars.
Susi may have had to be convinced about buying the car initially, but she loves it now. Whenever Oliver picks her up from work in the summer, he asks her what car she wants him to use. She always says “Take Alfredo.”
She also really enjoys working with fabrics – knitting and weaving and sewing. She collected Oliver’s old blue jeans and cut them up and sewed them together to make a mat for the trunk and pillows for the interior out of the denim.
As you can guess, Oliver loves the Newport too.
“I really, really enjoy it,” he told me. “You can calm down when you sit in that car. When I have a hard day at work I really enjoy driving that car. You put the windows down and just drive and keep smiling. People are looking at you, doing thumbs up. A couple of guys on motorbikes when you’re stopped at a redlight they start talking to you. That’s really a nice experience.”
It’s no wonder that driving Alfredo makes Oliver a talkative guy. There’s a lot of really great things to talk about.
Photos courtesy of Oliver
Click here to see more photos of Alfredo
You can follow Oliver and Alfredo on Instgram at @slabside_al