Fabulous Fords Forever 2012 - Old's Cool
Fox Mustangs made a strong showing at Knott’s Berry Farm
From the November, 2012 issue of 5.0 Mustang & Super Fords
By Tom Wilson
Photography by Tom Wilson
When Billy Moose finally quit working in NASCAR, it was good to get off the road and find some normalcy in life. Even so, it left a void that wasn't easy to fill. Moose had always had a passion for cars--and working in racing was a good fix for that. Yet, finding another creative outlet was the order of the day if he was going to find happiness in semi-retirement.
Fabulous Fords Forever--the foremost Ford show west of the Mississippi--likes to celebrate Ford anniversaries; this year it was the 80th anniversary of the '32 Ford, the 50th year of the Cobra and 45th of the Cougar, and there were plentiful examples of each present. But we also couldn't help noticing the strong showing of Fox Mustangs in the Knott's Berry Farm parking lots. Certainly it was nothing organized and may well prove a one-off fluke, but whatever the reason, Fox Mustangs were in their glory.
Almost as noticeable were the relative paucity of SN-95/New Edge Mustangs. It's not as if there weren't any there, but the squads of Mach 1s, the Legend Lime Registry, and many of those daily drivers that make up the bulk of the Fabulous Fords show field seemed to take the year off. That said, the organizers reported an increased car count over last year, with a reported 1,800-plus cars registered and a guessed-at 35,000 spectators. That's a big show to put on every year, especially as well as Fab Fords does it.
Probably just by chance, but...
Probably just by chance, but Foxes were out in force at Fabulous Fords Forever 2012. Even better, we noticed a notch upward in the quality of these cars.
Eddie Zapata is a tech at...
Eddie Zapata is a tech at GTR and, as expected, his smooth-skin SN-95 benefits from his off-hours handiwork. His current combination is a Four-Valve with a Vortech V3 pullied to 11 pounds and 480 rwhp on the GTR Dynojet. Corbeau seats and harness seatbelts help when autocrossing, the latest rage with the GTR crowd.
Many owners elect not to display...
Many owners elect not to display an information card at Fab Fords, so often what we see is what we get, but in the case of this white Fox coupe, we like what we saw. With the hood down, who knows what good or evil lay within, but generally this Fox displays the whole-car treatment that better Foxes are showing these days, and while there's nothing inexpensive here, this isn't a budget-killing show car, either. The monochromatic white respray, black-out wheel treatment, and handsomely upgraded interior reflect attention to car-building basics that can be enjoyed daily. Leather seats with upgraded bolstering and contrast stitching, plus custom door panels, definitely make the vintage Fox interior a nicer place.
With approximately 900 Mustangs on hand, there was no shortage of ponies in the corral. And, again, it is the later models that continue to gain traction at the show. Maybe it's because the newer owners are more enthusiastic about showing, but if nothing else, the “newer” cars have simply been available longer than any other group at this point. After all, the classic '60s Mustangs were built for just five years before bloating into the now fairly neglected '71-'73 era; the five-year run of Mustang IIs has never made a big showing; then the Foxes consume the long 14-year passage from '79 to '93.
At this point, the SN-95 and New Edge cars are transitional, spanning the relatively long nine-year gap from '94 to '04, while the S197 and later 'Stangs have already been with us a little over eight model years. If you see the SN-95s and S197s as the later-model Mustangs, you're talking a 17-year run that is sure to dominate any gathering of the herd. That, and they are still making more of them, thank goodness.
While not standard fare in this magazine, we should also tip our crash hat to the 50-year run (yikes!) of the Cobra. Yep, it was your granddad's hot rod, but this writer was lucky enough to spend 1,000 miles behind the wheel of an original 427 Cobra, and rest assured, they are as hairy-chested as they come. And, because the Cobra is a Southern California car, assembled a bare 25 miles away at LAX airport, sidepipe rumbling is a given any year at Knott's, but especially so this year. That's because the day before Knott's the NHRA Museum put on a 50th Anniversary of the Cobra celebration not 25 miles away in Pomona, so there was a larger and more exotic gathering of snakes than normal at Knott's this year.
Vintage hot-rodding pieces...
Vintage hot-rodding pieces are always fun, and it seems folks are seeing old power-adders in a new light. Chances are this ball-drive Paxton Fox has been this way for 20 years; it's gone from new, to hopelessly out-of-date, and now to cool retro. Even with a tired drive and 4 pounds of boost, the 302 is still fun to drive, don't you bet?
Wheel maker Kompression had...
Wheel maker Kompression had two cars at Knott's, a slick coupe and this rather red SN-95. Again, not a lot of info available other than there's a Vortech-assisted Two-Valve under the hood, but Kompression's core competency of bespoke (we couldn't resist) three-piece wheels was definitely on display.
The clean rims and subtle...
The clean rims and subtle fender flaring yielded a welcome fashion upgrade while paying homage to the Cobra R wheels that started it all. Those are 345/25R-20 Toyos in back on 13.5x20-inch hoops, and 19s in front.
Show regulars saw no major changes to the show, which is just fine with us. The layout followed the now-standard format of Mustangs in one lot, all other Fords in the other large lot, and the SVT Mustang Cobras in the garden surrounding the Independence Hall attraction. Show day was mainly overcast but dry. Still, there was enough sun to burn our bald spot, the crowd was thick, and with rumors of Fab Fords possibly migrating to the Pomona Fairplex, we were enjoying what we believe to be the superior venue at Knott's.
Perhaps the best news came to us just after the show, when we confirmed Fabulous Fords Forever will definitely be at Knott's next year--the car council has already voted--so we'll see you there April 2013.
Horse Sense: We caught a few words with Steve Saleen, fresh off his announcement that he had regained the use of the Saleen name after a protracted legal fight. Steve noted he is keeping both SMS and Saleen names active, and that both will likely appear on his cars. We thought he might reserve the Saleen name for his Ford offerings and SMS for all others, but he says no, both SMS and Saleen could appear on the same car.
One glance at the race-car...
One glance at the race-car graphics and towering engine and we knew Eric Cheney couldn't be far away. Sure enough, there he was, talking up his build of the eBay ride for drifter/road-racer/stunt-driver/movie-driver Tony Brakohiapa. That's a Vortech V-7 YSi blower with a super-stout, drift-proof double-idler belt drive dominating the scene. Eric says the 5.0 Three-Valve with "crazy head work" will spend its working life at around 900 hp, but it's capable of much more.
California's twisting canyon...
California's twisting canyon roads, endless freeways, and tough smog laws have meant a preponderance of road-oriented Mustang builds, so this classic drag-oriented S197 caught our eye. A Saleen supercharger and spit-polish black paint over big-and-little rolling stock with tall sidewalls and chrome rims had us thinking of the heartland, and sure enough, South Dakota plates and a military ID sticker told the rest of the story. This is an impressively clean ride, especially considering it was likely done on a military budget. And when we say big-and-little, we mean 275/60R-15 M&H drag slicks coupled with M&H Racemaster fronts.
At the epicenter of SoCal's...
At the epicenter of SoCal's hot rod industry and media-rich environment, Knott's gets more than it's share of pro-built project cars. Here's a good example courtesy of Hotchkis and owner Michael Heintz, an '11 GT built to the nines with a Magnuson supercharger, complete Hotchkiss TVS suspension, a Vaughn Gittin Jr. RTR body and wheel kit, and Wilwood brakes. The Grabber Blue paint, open hood, and SEMA show information stand helped grab attention.
John Heermann brought his...
John Heermann brought his stunning '11 GT retromod to Knott's for it's first true public viewing. Not unexpectedly, it drew a constant stream of admirers. John installed new much-improved quarter-windows in the car since we featured it, so it looks better than ever.
If Foxes were an ad-hoc sub-theme...
If Foxes were an ad-hoc sub-theme this year, then plain white wrappers were an underground theme. Here Chad Mason's '12 GT demonstrates the clean and hungry look, proving once again that a good eye for design basics, attention to cleanliness, and detailing can carry a car a long way on the show field.
Here's another of several...
Here's another of several stand-out white-themed Mustangs. This one features a blacked-out roof and wing, but also a bit of flash in the polished wheel rims and discrete chrome accents in the taillights and elsewhere.