Mother Nature cast a kind eye, of sorts, on this year’s Muscle Car and Corvette Nationals show. On this pre-Thanksgiving weekend situated just north of downtown Chicago, an early winter storm was bearing down on the load-in day for the expected more than 500 show cars.
As it turned out the snow held off until later Friday evening allowing for the millions and millions of dollars worth of rare and special muscle cars, Corvettes, drag race cars and special street cars to make it into the dry and warm indoor show space. Over the course of the weekend, some 20,000 people, at times having to brave the snow, would come to see the vehicles on display.
A big feature this year was the display of 27 Mopar E-body 426 Hemi-powered 1970 and 1971 Hemi ‘Cuda and 1970 Challenger R/T convertibles. Most likely the largest collection in one place in recent times. Only 42 were made from 1970 to 1971, with just 2 extremely rare four-speed manual 1971 models sold in the U.S. These multi-million dollar muscle cars are auction price leaders in the growing American muscle car segment.
Automotive celebrity Courtney Hansen of Overhaulin’ and host of the Spike TV Power Block joined the show and kicked off activities with the premiere unveiling of the restored Phil Bonner ’64 Ford 427 Thunderbolt presented by Tennessee owner Donald Allen.
Dennis Pittsenbarger, star of the Discovery Channel television show Highway to Sell emceed weekend premier unveilings of recently completed restorations.
A rare piece of Mopar history that almost no one had seen is one of two cars that Richard Petty drove, although briefly, in 1965 after a disagreement over the Hemi engine between NASCAR and Chrysler Corporation. The 43 JR, altered-wheelbase, Hilborn-injected 426 Hemi Barracuda is the real thing, not a clone or replica! It’s one of the most significant Mopar race cars ever.
Marty Schorr, noted author and historian, was on hand to sign his latest book, Ford Total Performance, along with a number of other authors.
Now in its seventh year, the Muscle Car and Corvette Nationals is the largest show of its kind and prides its self in bringing together the very rare and unusual. An entire circle of 1970 Buick Stage 1, 4-speed convertibles, among the rarest and most desirable Buick muscle machines ever built, was billed as the largest gathering of these prime examples of American Muscle ever shown, with 8 four-speeds and even a real 3-speed manual version.
Cars that caught my eye included Dyno Don Nicholson’s A/FX Comet powered by a Ford 427 ”Cammer” that produced over 600 horsepower. Another historic Ford drag car was Gas Ronda’s ’65 altered wheelbase 427 SOHC Cammer-powered Mustang. Bud Faubel’s “Big Red” ‘62 Chrysler 300 with a long-ram 413 engine was drag raced in B/FX and also set a speed record of 156.657mph on the sands at Daytona Beach.
Among the rare to see, a ’65 Olds Starfire convertible, one of 20 built with a 4-speed manual. A nice collection of about 10 Chevy 409s from the early ‘60s included my favorite bodystyle, the 2-door Bel Air bubble-top
In addition to the muscle cars, there were plenty of Corvettes as well as nostalgia drag race gassers. A display of old Schwinn Stingray bicycles, an area for Revell model kits, Hot Wheels racing areas, for-sale barn finds, a scavenger hunt and live music entertained everyone over the weekend.
Photos by Larry Nutson