If youre a Mopar enthusiast, every day at the Jim and Rhonda Hatzelis household is like Christmas. The walls are covered in Mopar memorabilia, the décor skews toward Mopar, with a touch of Looney Toons (after all, Road Runner was a star in the Merrie Melodies cartoons long before he was the namesake of the famous Plymouth B-Body muscle car) and there is a stable of classic Mopars out front. During the Christmas season, however, things get extra festive.
Rhonda started the Mopar Christmas tree shortly after she and her husband Jim were married. She explained, Ive always loved doing themed Christmas trees. We had a Hot Wheels Christmas tree and a Looney Tunes Christmas tree and then I thought, Why not do a Mopar Christmas tree? So, I did! Being that there werent many Mopar Christmas ornaments on the market, most of the ornaments are handmade.
Jim and Rhonda Hatzelis LIVE Mopar. Every aspect of their day-to-day lives is at least freckled with some Mopar reminder. For Rhonda, it started with her father and brother each owning a Charger and Road Runner, respectively.
Rhonda still owns her fathers Charger and her brothers Bird. The Charger is fully restored and the Bird is cooler than ever, now sporting a custom take on the famous Mod-Top and a bright green hue. I saw my first Mod-Top at a car show 20 years ago, and I said, I HAVE to have one of those! Its so pretty and unique! she told us. In 2006, Rhonda saw another Mod-Top in the form of a yellow 1969 Plymouth Barracuda which only served to solidify her determination to have a Mod-Top of her own.
After spending a few years attempting to find a supplier of a Mod-Top, and a few let downs, Rhonda decided to have a custom one made by a local graphics shop. After a trip to the fabric store for pattern ideas and several months spent perfecting the color scheme, Rhondas Bird had its Mod-Top and she and Jim have been loving it ever since! At first, people thought I was crazy, Jim included, she said. Now, we get so much attention with Mod-Top Bird! People just LOVE it, and we do too (even Jim)!
Whenever the Bird comes out, so does Rhondas alter-ego, Mod-Top Girl. Clad in a shirt matching the Birds groovy top, white go-go boots and 60s inspired accessories, Mod-Top girl looks right at home next to the Bird!
Jims love of Mopar began in 1971 when his father purchased a Dodge Coronet. Jim said, I liked it so much that a few years later I decided to get myself a Dodge Charger. Ive been a Mopar guy ever since. Jim is also a big fan of creating his own custom model cars and dioramas.
Jim and Rhondas romance began in 1995. Rhonda was the newsletter editor for the Tucson Mopar Club and Jim was the treasurer. As time went on, and her affection for Jim grew, Rhonda found herself needing to go to Jim for money to buy stamps, copies, etc. more and more often (wink, wink), eventually, Jim got the idea and the two began dating. In 1996 they were married at a car show and since then, they have been livin the Mopar life, together.
Scott and I had a blast with Jim, Rhonda and the rest of the Tucson Mopar Club. Wed never seen a passion for Mopar quite like the one shared by Jim and Rhonda, and we hope, like their love for one another, that their passion for all things Mopar continues to grow.