You ever get the feeling that you've arrived at a place where you don't belong? Like a 10-point buck waltzing into a backyard BBQ sponsored by Cabela's. Or perhaps a little German car parked on the perimeter of a strictly American modern muscle meet, more specifically a Mopar-only mass. It was Wednesday night and there I was showing up at the North Jersey Mopar meet. In my Volkswagen. With an 8380 Labs VW t-shirt on. What was I doing here?
I first met Tony a few years ago after taking a picture of his Sinister SRT at a Cars & Croissants meet. We went back and forth via Facebook messenger for a while and finally met up one Sunday morning at a post-cruise Cars & Caffe gathering at the Fireplace in Paramus. Shortly after that morning he invited me into the North Jersey Mopar Facebook group, even though the only thing I had in common with the other members was our mutual love for (mostly) all things automotive.
At this year's season opener for the Cars & Caffe group, I happened to be in the right place at the right time when the NJM group rolled into the lot. I took advantage and snapped everyone's mug shot as they were pulling in, presenting those members with a belated Christmas gift in JPG form. But it was that set of pictures that provided an opportunity for infiltration into the otherwise tight-knit group.
It turns out that they're more than a closed group on FB, but rather an extension of their own families. They meet every Wednesday at the Lowe's in East Rutherford, but usually share a meal beforehand. They do what any car enthusiast with good intentions would do; they park their cars in the lot for a few hours and talk shop until it's time to go home. Remember, this is during the week and most of them have work in the morning. Beyond that, they attend shows together and are even hosting an end of season "Mopars on the Hudson" BBQ this Sunday.
When it comes to extracurricular activities, there are a few things I enjoy. First off, I enjoy taking pictures. I think that's obvious. Another thing I enjoy, which may not be as clear, is chatting with people and afterwards retelling stories of my exploits. I was finally able to catch up with NJM and attend not one, but two consecutive Wednesday meets to see what the fuss was about. Even though I showed up with my little VW and parked as far away as possible (not really that far), whoever I talked to was warm and welcoming and not at all shy to put their cars in front of my camera lens.
The first Wednesday was a great success, with the sunset providing warm light to highlight the cars, while the NYC skyline blurred into the background. As the daylight drew to a close, the rays reflecting off the glass buildings gave a nice glow to the otherwise darkening scene. It was picture perfect and I tried my best to take advantage of the opportunity that was before me.
Once the sun sunk below the horizon, it was tripod time. Cars had accumulated nicely and the attendance had swelled to more than double the previous week. With the help of New York's Team Move Over SRT, the grand total for that evening was more than 60 cars, a record turnout. A lot of the cars featured LED lights, putting on the proverbial angry eyes in the East Rutherford darkness. I shot for a bit, said my goodbyes and cut loose for home.
Since lightning doesn't strike twice in the same place, the conditions for the following Wednesday were less than ideal, with clouds pulling the aphoristic wool over the sky. Surprisingly, after the previous week's production, I had more cars rolling up to have their glamour shots taken. It gave me the chance to meet even more of the Mopar Fam constituency and further solidify the fact that they were a nice group of people, not that they had anything to prove. Regardless, I enjoyed shooting the breeze with the best of them and really taking in the finer details that these Dodges, Chryslers and Jeeps had.
At the end of the night, I bid my farewells and made it known that I would return at a later date. I couldn't capture all the cars that were there and the variety of the attendees made it apparent that another visit would be necessary. Just like any weekly cruise night, you never know what's going to show up. A point further evidenced by the appearance of a 1969 Coronet 500, a car not often seen on the street. Thanks to the great group of people who make up North Jersey Mopar, I was able to add some modern muscle to my portfolio and make some new acquaintances along the way.
If you have a Mopar in the driveway (or maybe the garage), then make sure you set aside some time to check these guys and gals out. You can find them every Wednesday evening, weather permitting, in the East Rutherford Lowe's parking lot.
Check out the FULL GALLERY of images from both days HERE!