MOD TOPS (1960 – 70s)


By 1969, flower power went mainstream…right up the Detroit River, even. Hoping to cash in on the latest fad and drag mustang buyers away from the Ford stables, Chrysler unveiled one of the era’s more colourful options: The Mod Top–or more accurately, Pop Prints, since the treatment was not limited neither to the top nor to just one pattern or colour. Some have suggested that these brightly coloured cars we derived from paint jobs created in 1966 by Chicago artist Tom Strobel, for Chicago Chrysler-Plymouth dealer Mel Wolff. Kevin Martin from Curbside Classics gives his account of events at the time as an employee of Tom Strobel:

“In the summer of 1969, I worked for Tom Strobel designing and building two sculptures that dispensed “art”. Strobel had acquired a couple of coin-operated machines that would, for the princely sum of 25 cents, deliver a clear plastic egg filled with “found art” that Strobel had stuffed into them. My assignment was to package the coin-op machine in an attention-grabbing fashion. I did the job with a tower painted in a Captain America theme (think Peter Fonda’s chopper in Easy Rider) topped with a Jacob’s Ladder that continuously emitted scary-sounding zaps. The crowds ate it up. I used Strobel’s Chrysler 300, complete with the Op Art paint job shown in the photo, as a parts chaser. Needless to say, that 300 drew its share of attention on the street.
Strobel didn’t confine himself to Op Art treatments, as you can see in the picture [below] with Mel Wolff. He created at least two cars, a Plymouth Satellite convertible and a Chrysler Newport, with floral treatments. Could they have influenced Plymouth to offer Mod Tops in 1969? Quite possibly. Mel Wolff had painted the cars to draw attention to his dealerships, and the Chrysler 300 with the Op Art treatment was featured in Playboy magazine, which gave his paint treatments national, if not international, exposure. Strobel also gave his floral-themed treatment to a 1965 VW Microbus. It was beyond slow. Good times.”

Below is a gallery of two original Floral Mod Top Chryslers produced around the late 60s and early 70s.



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