• Frank Oles

Muscle Car Nationals 2019


The Corvette and Muscle Car Nationals is the premier car show in the country for this category of car, and it is a treat to visit this indoor show when the temps outside are freezing. For us here in the Midwest, it is really depressing to put away your car for the season. Shows like this help keep our enthusiasm for the hobby going. I was extremely excited for this year, because the movie Ford V Ferrari has rekindled enthusiasm for classic Ford and Shelby automobiles, and I knew this show would try and capitalize on the renewed interest - I was not disappointed!

Right off the bat, we were greeted with the first Shelby GT350, the prototype car 003. But this was no ordinary restoration...

What was very unusual about this restoration was the way it was being accomplished. At this year's show, the car is being displayed restored as it was delivered to Shelby American from Ford Motor Company - a K-Code Mustang in Wimbledon White. After this show, the car will then be "Shelby-ized" - the mods that Shelby added to create the GT350 will be added, just like his company did back in the day. What a unique way to perform a restoration.

The car was displayed on elevated stands so that observers could see the exquisite detail work that was performed on the chassis and underpinnings of this special car. Quite an amazing restoration.

Did I mention Ford V Ferrari? I was so excited to see this GT40 in the metal because this is no ordinary GT40. It is a GT40 "lightweight", AMGT2 - one of only 2 that were created for the 1966 race season by Alan Mann Racing. The idea here was to stick with the small block GT40 chassis, but add extensive lightweight modifications to increase speed. Some telltale signs are the NACA ducts in the front hood, the ribbed lower side cladding of the chassis, and the distinctive magnesium racing wheels.

Normally, GT40s had fiberglass front and rear clamshells. The AMGT cars had hand-formed aluminum body panels in front and rear. The quality of the work is visible here with the rear clamshell lifted. You can also see the "luggage rack" on top of the rear exhaust piping, a Le Mans regulation. Don't put your groceries there unless you want them cooked by the time you get home!

Normally, I am in awe when I see one Boss 429 Mustang. Here, there was an entire row. It's almost surreal to see this many in one location, but that was only the start of the collection of mind-bending cars on display at this show.

A Chrysler Turbine Car! It's amazing to thing that there was a time when cars were cruising the streets with JET ENGINES! There was also a spare engine on display next to this car. Great jet-age styling elements inside and out - because the sound alone wasn't enough to let people know you were driving a jet to work. Ultimately, it was not practical, but you have to admire the fact Chrysler was willing to give it a try.

Speaking of engineering prowess, the Tommy Ivo 4 engine, 4WD dragster was on display in the foyer. It was a show-stopper back in the day, and little has changed. I can only imagine what it was like to see this car rip a 4WD burnout. Terrific paint job too.

Besides the collection of Mopar Wing Cars in the title image, there was also an impressive collection of fiberglass hood A12 cars at the show - three rows of them! It's amazing to think you could go to the dealer and purchase a drag strip ready car like this.

The rarest of the rare - an A12 Floral Vinyl Roof car. You have to admire the creativity that Chrysler allowed when it came to spec out your Mopar. You could walk into your dealer and walk out with a truly 1 of 1 car. You usually have to spend Rolls Royce money to get this level of uniqueness from the factory, but Chrysler made it happen. And today, we celebrate just how special it was.

Another treat at the show this year was this American Motors AMX/3 Mid Engine Prototype. It was being displayed with other Barn Find cars before it heads off for a complete restoration. Less than 10 of these were created. It's a real shame the design made it to full production, because the lines are as striking today as they were back then.

Besides cars, there was a great display of classic "Muscle Bikes." The Schwinn Krates had all the features including a spring fork, metal flake banana seats and 5 speeds. There were also bikes on display from Raleigh, Sears and JCPenney! Every bike should have a drag slick in back!

This 289 Cobra was impressive. If you don't want one of these after seeing Ford V Ferrari, you don't have a pulse. I always liked the look of the small block cars better than the wildly bulbous big block Cobras. But I would happily drive either!

One of Clayton's favorite cars of the show was the Bullitt Mustang. This actual move car was a survivor, having never been restored. The coolness of this car is undeniable. Even though this movie came out decades before Clay was born, he can still understand the appeal. This car is heading to auction in January. At least the new owner will never have to worry if a stone flies up and chips the paint! I like my cars like that too. Drive fearlessly.

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