We're fond of bragging how the weather is always nice for the Fabulous Fords Forever show at Knott's Berry Farm. Held every April, Knott's tempts the weather gods by sitting in Southern California's rain window. We should say "deluge window," as it's either nice or pouring buckets. We hadn't felt a drop at Knott's at our preceding 18 shows.
This year we did. But after a three-minute scare and a flurry of anxious owners wiping off scattered drops, it was over and the sun made a weak entrance just so the Chamber of Commerce could say it had.
For the Ford faithful, however, Knott's never misfired. The unsettled weather leading up to the show would've scared off a quarter of any run-of-the-mill show 'n' shine, but that's not Knott's. This is a show people anticipate a year in advance. It's where cars debut, it's the place to be seen, and where old friends catch up. A spit of rain isn't going to stop that.
In fact, it's likely Knott's set another attendance record, although such things are tough to verify, and the show is capped somewhere just below 2,000 cars (!) by the fire marshall. We noticed the continued decay of the early Model T and A ranks, and the seemingly unstoppable growth of Mustangs. The '50s hardware did its chrome and retractable thing in normal numbers, the Bronco brigade was riding in impressively large numbers-it's worth the trip to catch the early off-roaders if that's your thing-and the Total Perfor-mance legends were well represented, as usual. But Mustangs were everywhere.
Of course, not all Mustangs are represented in equal numbers. Mustang IIs are unicorn-like, the flat-back '71-'73 cars are relatively rare, and the 5.0s have fallen far behind. They're obviously in auto purgatory, too old to rock 'n' roll and too young to die. Collectors: buy the few good ones left while they're still cheap.
This year, the standard Mustangs were the '94-'98 SN-95s and '99-'04 New Edges. They were parked in solid rows and carried the Mustang Cobra area. The Shelby GT 500s were in the Shelby paddock in the North 40; the Fox Cobras were represented by only four veterans.
Knott's is in California-where the new and trendy are celebrated-and that means S197 Mustangs. There were rows of gleaming new, flashed, and dashed cars. We were impressed by the late-model's numbers, seriousness of preparation, and professional interest by dealers and tuners. If you needed more proof that Ford does the right thing when it sticks to core Mustang values, Knott's provided it.
For our 20th Knott's next year, we expect more of the same-and more sunshine.