Tim Lopata has done it again. For several years, Tim has successfully gathered together the nation's rarest muscle machinery for an annual car show that's unlike anything else out there. Originally held in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, the event has come to be known as the Forge Invitational Musclecar Classic-even though the show relocated recently to nearby Kingsport, Tennessee, to accommodate the massive growth.
As with years past, there's a show theme, and this time it was Boss 429 Mustangs. Attendees were treated to the spectacle of a cluster of Boss Nines-one in every factory-available color. There was lots of Mopar and GM machinery on display, too.
Let's hit a few of the highlights. If you want to see next year's Forge Show in person, it'll once again be held at the Meadow View Marriott convention center in Kingsport, Tennessee, September 11-12, 2009. Tim says the theme is '60s and '70s Super Stock, Factory Experimental, and Pro Stock racers. To learn more, log on to forge musclecarshow.com. We'll be there. Will you?
Jerry and Janet Huffman have owned this '65 Chevelle Z16 since day one. Jerry's family ran Huffman's Chevrolet in Farmington, Illinois, and figured the inaugural-year big-block Chevelle would make a good B/Stock contender.
Lettered up as the Dynamite Chevelle, it was campaigned at legendary Midwest tracks such as Peoria, Cordova, Byron, U.S. 30, and Union Grove. Though the original 375-horse 396 was swapped for an L88 crate engine long ago, Jerry found another Chevelle Z16 mill to set things straight. This one's been restored but still has its original exhaust system, side glass, Z16-specific dual-snorkel air cleaner, and interior.
Mike Flash of Beaumont, Texas, is the lucky owner of this 18,000-mile COPO 9560 ZL1 Camaro. Of the 69 built, this was the second one out the door and has the original two-page buildsheet to prove it. There's a typed memo on the second sheet that reads, "Estes request red-hot pilot 427 engine opt. 9560BA." That's shorthand for the fact that Chevrolet Division President Pete Estes wanted this thing built pronto.
We're amazed at the column-shifted Turbo 400 and nonconsole bucket seat interior. Don't confuse this COPO 9560 ZL1 Camaro with its COPO 9561 cousin. The latter came with an iron L72 427 and sold for just over $4,000 versus the ZL1's all-aluminum 427 mill and staggering $7,400 sticker.
Chip Wright's '69 Camaro was born as a 302-powered Z/28 but was delivered to Joel Rosen's Motion Performance in 1974 for conversion into a big-block Phase III drag machine. Records show the owner shelled out more than $10,000 to have Rosen's shop install a ZLX mill. What's that? Think of it as a basic all-aluminum ZL1 427 crate motor that's been fully blueprinted and filled with a hot solid cam, high-squeeze pistons, full porting, then topped by a Weiand tunnel-ram packing twin Dominators. It's unclear if this thing was built for sanctioned Modified Production drag racing or for midnight shenanigans on Brooklyn's notorious street scene. Either way, it's a solid low-10-second piece-then or now.
Tim and Pam Wellborn have a world-class collection of '71 Hemi Chargers at home in Alexander City, Alabama. That's why their latest acquisition-this unrestored '70 Boss 429-is a shock. But it's a Hemi after all. With a mere 4,790 miles on the clock, KK2097 is original and unmolested right down to the plug wires and hoses.
Originally built for sale in California, it has a unique evaporative emissions system that bolts to the driver side of the trunk floor-where the compact spare tire usually goes on 49-state Boss Nines. To protect the delicate plastic ductwork and vapor expansion tank under the trunk mat, Ford relocated the spare tire to the center of the trunk floor, above the rear axle hump. Several noted Boss 429 authorities got their minds blown at the sight of this California-specific spare tire location and the rarely seen smog goodies.
Dick Towers brought the former Rod Shop Dodge Hemi Demon from his Anaheim, California, shop and drew a constant crowd of admirers all weekend long. Built during the mid-'70s-a period of anti-Chrysler sentiment among the sanctioning bodies-it was initially campaigned in NHRA Pro Stock, but severe weight and displacement penalties on the Hemi made it noncompetitive. It was then raced in C/Altered, where the rule book was more liberal but victories carried less glory. Besides the full-tilt Hemi, this thing is packed with crafty tricks from nose to tail, including a chemically milled (aka acid-dipped) body shell, subtly narrowed fiberglass front fenders and grille, and a bunch of engine setback. Look closely and you'll see the stock bolt-on door handles have been replaced by flush-fit Challenger items for extra-high-speed aero points.
Don Grotheer was one of Plymouth's factory-sponsored golden boys back in the '60s. While he recently unveiled a modern re-creation for beating on, this is his original BO29 SS/B Hemi Barracuda, currently owned by Chuck and JoAnn Smith of Philadelphia, Tennessee. Don power-shifted this very fish to a runner-up spot at the '68 NHRA Springnationals against none other than Ronnie Sox. Ironically, Don crossed the finish line first but was too far under the national record and was eliminated. He hauled this car to many Plymouth Supercar Clinics-a traveling road show that spread Hemi and wedge high-performance gospel at Chrysler/Plymouth dealerships from coast to coast.
Rescued from oblivion in a Tampa, Florida, junkyard in 1987, this is very likely the world's first fiberglass-bodied Mustang drag car. Originally built by Ron Pellegrini in May 1965, the shortened body shell stems from the fact that Ron wanted to recycle his old fuel roadster into a door-slammer to grab a slice of the lucrative exhibition match racing pie. Since the roadster's wheelbase was 97 inches and the Mustang's was 106, Ron-the owner of Fiberglass Ltd. (a popular supplier of lightweight plastic body panels)-molded a custom body, and the Super Mustang was born. Powered by a blown Chrysler 392 Hemi, this wild contraption ran 8.9s at 171 mph in Supercharged/Factory Experimental (S/FX) competition. Though the body is the original, the frame was rusted, so a clone was made during the restoration. Today it is owned by Robert Schramm of Fort Myers, Florida.
Dick Harrell may have been killed in an unfortunate fuel Funny Car crash in September 1971, but Mr. Chevrolet's legacy continues. His daughter, Valerie, showed two of Harrell's flip-top Camaros, the restored '69 car and this unrestored machine from the '68 season. Dick's first flip-top car, this one was built by Texas Funny Car pioneer Don Hardy, who also built an altered-wheelbase Camaro door-slammer that Dick ran in 1967.
We're jonesing for the days when a stock block Chevy 427 was a competitive Funny Car bullet. In fact, in 1970-as many racers were quietly swapping blown Hemis into their floppers-Dick remained true to the Bow Tie and kept at it with big-inch Rat power right to the end. There's a hand-lettered logo on the molded trunk spoiler of this '68 that reads "Chevrolet Power Not an Imposter!" Amen, Dickie, amen.
Only partially restored from its as-raced configuration, Huntsville, Alabama, collector Greg Sullivan displayed the altered-wheelbase Strip Teaser II. Originally built by Bob Thomas and Howard Neal, the steel-bodied '65 Falcon runs a 427 high-riser Wedge the guys yanked out of Thomas' year-old '64 Thunderbolt. Before long, Gene Adams entered the scene, and one of the first Ford FE Hilborn fuel-injection setups replaced the dual quads. We're digging the surface rust on the Astro five-spoke front wheels. Can you smell the rosin?
The next time you see a derelict Camaro at the swap meet, consider Mike Slaughter's tale. A friend spotted this engineless '67 sports coupe in Burbank, California, wearing SS350 emblems, '68 wheels, and an aftermarket cowl-induction hood. Just another cobbled up Camaro, right? Turns out the VIN is in the Yenko registry, and it's an original Yenko 427 conversion car.
Mike's holding a copy of the original Yenko work order that lists the 427 short-block, RC bellhousing, MT headers, Traction Master bars, Stewart Warner tach, and a bunch of other ingredients that transformed this one into a Yenko Super Camaro with a sticker price of $4,290.67. Mike is planning a full restoration.
Most prototype vehicles are sent to the crusher, but that's not the case with Steve Honnell's Boss 429-powered '70 Cyclone Spoiler II. Intended as an answer to the Dodge Charger Daytona and Plymouth Superbird, FoMoCo stylist Larry Shinoda whipped up the special fiberglass front clip for NASCAR super speedway action (the body remains stock from the A-pillars back). Thanks to the departure of pro-racing Ford honcho Bunkie Knudsen and stricter NASCAR homologation rules for 1970 that tripled the minimum production requirement from 500 to 1,500 units for limited-edition aero cars, the project was canned. But not before a pair of Mercury Spoiler IIs and a trio of similarly modified Ford Torino King Cobras were completed. All have survived, and each has a unique story to tell. Steve's Spoiler II was saved by Mose Lane, a Lincoln-Mercury executive with lots of pull. Though it spent a few years sitting in an Indiana pasture, Steve has carefully restored it to its former glory, complete with a Top Loader four-speed.