Held at Knott’s Berry Farm in the Buena Park section of Los Angeles, the 31st annual Fabulous Fords Forever show is regarded as one of the largest one-day car shows in America and the biggest Ford gathering on the West Coast.
The all-Ford event is the byproduct of Johna Pepper’s efforts along with support from Ford and assistance from seveval Southern California Ford and Mustang clubs. In 1983, Pepper had retired from a 23-year career with Ford Motor Company and was appointed to be Fords “Ford Car Club Coordinator” as a retirement job. The first Fabulous Fords Forever show at Knotts Berry Farm was held April 13, 1986 and attracted over 1,300 vehicles placed in 42 show classes.
Thirty-one years later, and now organized by the Ford Car Club Counsel of 46 member clubs, over 1,800 Ford, Mercury, and Lincoln vehicles registered for a 2016 show which showcased everything from a 1903 Model T through a brand new Shelby Mustang GT350. Show car owners received goodie bags including a commemorative pin, a yearly tradition since the shows creation.
The show was held April 17, the 51st anniversary of the launch of the Ford Mustang but also celebrated 45 years of the Ford Pinto, 45 years of the DeTomaso Pantera, 50 years of the Ford Bronco, and 55 years of Econoline Vans.
Mustangs made up the largest model in attendance with just over 1,000 registered vehicles, followed by Broncos, F-Series trucks, Thunderbirds, Crown Victoria’s and Falcons.
Those vehicles are separated into 57 classes. Beyond the classes, there are two major awards. A 1965 Ford Fairlane Victoria owned by Larry Kooiman of Downey, California, was awarded the Johna Pepper award — named after the late show founder and given to the “best car,” while a 1968 Ford Bronco roadster, owned by Bobby Franks of Campbell, California, took the Bill Stroppe award — given to the “best truck” and named after the late off-road racing legend.
Celebrities in attendance included Joey Hand and Dirk Muller, teammates who had competed in the IMSA WeatherTech Sports Car Championship series the day prior in their No. 66 Ford GT; Justin Pawlak, Formula Drift Champion; Cleo Shelby, wife of the late Carrol Shelby; Linda Vaughn, the “first lady of racing;” and several Ford drag racers and engine builders including John Calvert, Phil Featherston, Larry Knapp, Butch Leal, George Scarpenti, Ed Pink, John Vermeersch, and Butch Englebrecht.
In addition to car club displays and booths, participants and spectators saw displays from Ford Racing, Shelby, Roush, Saleen, and vendors like Nitto and Falcon tire along with Hillbank Motorsports.
Photos by Nicole James