The Classic Car Show, in association with Rolling Thunder, resumes the battle of the mid-size V8 icons on the first weekend of July in Gauteng.
Blame it all on Gone in 60 Seconds. That was the Nicholas Cage movie from the year 2000 that changed the way the world at large thought and felt about Pony Cars.
While the female interest in the film was provided by the rather eccentric, off-beat Angelina Jolie, there was nothing ambiguous about Eleanor, the car that stole the show. “Eleanor” was what Cage drove, and it was based on a 1967 Ford Mustang Fastback. Dressed up to resemble a Shelby GT500, it was, crucially, a Shelby with a difference.
Eleanor was painted in lustrous gun-metal silver. Instead of classic period alloys, it had modern, large-diameter renditions of the famous Halibrand rims as used by Carrol Shelby’s other famous creation, the AC Cobra. The classic bumpers gave way to a deep-valance front end with an air-dam, and beneath the gaping, black-painted radiator opening perched two spot lamps in a deep recess.
The flanks of the car were underpinned by classic black GT500 stripes, and the whole car was lowered, ran fat, low-profile rubber, four-pot calliper brakes, and rock-hard suspension. What’s more, beneath the hood was a seriously grumpy Ford Motorsport “crate” motor, developing some 400 horsepower. It is said that Chip Foose, Master Hot-Rodder, was a huge influence on the look and style of Eleanor.
Aah, here was a classic that was over three decades old that the youngsters could finally relate to. Guys and girls whom, in a South African context would lust after Golf GTis, suddenly looked at classic Mustangs with a whole new respect. And Eleanor re-creations soon sprouted up in all parts of the globe, not least in South Africa, where it is estimated there are well over a dozen Eleanor look-alikes.
Expect to see more than one Eleanor clone at Nasrec on July 3, with the hosting of The Classic Car Show 2016. And lest you think Mustangs in various guises will have it all their own way, look out for countless similar pony-cars (Mustang-sized muscle-cars, to those who prefer the “Muscle” moniker)
The spin-off from Gone in 60 Seconds and the later The Fast and the Furious was that all of a sudden American classics from the 1960s and ‘70s were “cool”. Prices of the so-called pony-cars; mid-sized AMERICAN MUSCLE that were styled to compete with the hyper-successful Mustang of 1964-65 – rocketed. Doubled, trebled, and then doubled again!
The Mustang was launched in early April 1964 as a 1965 model, and seemed to catch all its rivals napping. Indeed, it took General Motors over two years to introduce the similarly-configured pony-car, the Camaro. But lest you think Mustangs rule, Camaro devotees are perhaps even more loyal than the more common Mustang freaks. And iconic models here include the Camaro RS from the late ‘60s as well as the early Z28, which had a special race-prepped 302 cube V8! Later Z28 renditions were not as wildly tuned, but are still highly sought-after!
While GM dithered in coming up with a Mustang challenger, the Chrysler Corporation hit straight back in 1965 with the beautifully-styled Plymouth Barracuda, a car with a massively curved rear windscreen. Interestingly South Africa’s Chrysler distributors arranged to have the car assembled here as the Valiant Barracuda, and there are traditionally one or two Valiant Barracudas that show at The Classic Car Show at Nasrec. Later renditions of the Barracuda, which were all imported here, are highly collectible today.
Chrysler also hit back with the beautiful Dodge Challenger, a pony-car that has near perfect proportions, and there are numerous examples expected at Nasrec. And of course, the bigger-sized muscle-car, the Dodge Charger, has its own fanatical adherents, thanks to its role in the classic 1968 Steve McQueen movie Bullitt, which features one of the best car chase scenes ever in a movie. A Mustang being chased (and chasing) a Dodge Charger!
Look out for all these Pony-Cars, and impress your friends when they call them “muscle-cars”. Tell them the difference! And enjoy the dozens of show-level Corvettes, full-sized muscle cars, street rods, fins-and-flash land-yachts from the 1950s such as Buicks and Cadillacs, and all the tricked out Chevy and Ford pick-ups.
In short, Nasrec will be a Veritable V8 Feast, come July 3, 2016. The Show runs from 8 am to 5 pm at Nasrec, located south of Johannesburg, just off the N1.
The Classic Car Show represents huge value for money. The gates open at 8 am and close at 5 pm, and prices are very reasonable. They are R80 per person for adults, and children aged 11-and-under, are R20 at the gate, and R60 per person, and children at R20 each, through TicketPro.
Spectators should enter Nasrec through Gate 5, while owners of Classic Cars must enter through Gate 2. The driver of each special-interest car will be admitted free of charge, but all passengers must pay full ticket prices.
See you there. It’s the Great Mid-Winter Warm-Up for 2016!