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Pursuit of perfection leads to natl. recognition

THE PROUD PAPA – Oxford merchant Mark Young took fourth place at the 2010 Mopar Nationals with his 1970 Dodge Coronet R/T convertible. Photo by C.J. Carnacchio. (click for larger version)
September 08, 2010 - Mark Young's life is spent striving for perfection.

Within the confines of his downtown Oxford jewelry shop, he toils on a daily basis, creating flawless works of art to be displayed on countless fingers, necks and wrists.

When he's at home in Orion Township, his pursuit of excellence continues in the garage with his ultimate achievement – a 1970 Dodge Coronet R/T convertible.

This magnificent piece of Detroit-engineered machinery took fourth place in the "B Body Original – 1968 and Up" class at the 2010 Mopar Nationals, held Aug. 13-15 at the National Trail Raceway in Hebron, Ohio, which is 20 minutes east of Columbus.

Sponsored by Mopar Muscle Magazine, this year's event was attended by 48,689 people. A total of 2,489 cars participated, of which 263 were professionally judged in the 36 classes.

"I didn't expect to place," Young said. "I was very surprised to get that."

Young's placing is particularly impressive considering the first and second place winners were vehicles restored by professionals who do this type of work "day in and day out."

"I'm just a guy working out of his garage at his house," he said.

It's even more impressive when one considers he could have actually placed higher if not for a few extremely minor aesthetic issues such as some broken paint on a couple of bolts in the trunk.

"Original class is tough because not only does the car have to be correct, it has to be aesthetically pleasing to the judge's eye. That's where I got hurt," Young explained. "(A judge) told me if I had corrected what he had pointed out to me, it would have made the difference between a second and fourth place. That's how tight it was."

Ironically, the Coronet R/T would have had a little broken paint on those trunk bolts when it rolled off the assembly line 40 years ago. But that doesn't matter in the class Young competed in.

"They don't want to see broken paint," he said. "They want to see those bolts perfect."

Amazingly, this same car took third place in the same class in the mid-1990s, even though it's in better condition today.

Young explained that's because the competition's gotten fiercer and as a result, the judges have even higher standards.

"Things have tightened up considerably," he said. "The level of the cars from a restored perspective is much higher than it was 15 years ago, which is good. It's good for the hobby."

Young's Coronet R/T has certainly come a long way since he purchased it back in 1989. He described its original condition as a "disaster."

"You could look through the trunk and see the concrete," he said.

Today, when most people gaze upon Young's sublime green (a factory color) Coronet R/T, they see a vintage vehicle in pristine condition.

But when he looks at his car, he sees one thing – freedom.

"Back then, you had far more freedom," Young said. "If you look at the colors of most vehicles today, they're going to be silver, black or white. Whereas these were some pretty wild colors, very stimulating to the senses.

"In our lifetimes, we'll probably never see anything that approaches the freedom that was expressed when you could walk into the dealer and buy something like that off the lot."

CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.
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