Because they’re such good cars late-model Mustangs are obviously the coin of the realm in the Ford universe. From the number of parts sold to counting noses at car shows, 2005 and up horse-Fords is where the Blue Oval rumbles.
Yeah, the asphalt was still steaming this morning. — Marc Bodrie, Fabulous Fords Forever
Our first impression was too-large-to-ignore open spaces in the show field — enough so we asked Fab Fords major domo Marc Bodrie what was up. Turns out entries were cut off at 1,600 cars instead of the usual 1,800 because Knott’s Berry Farm had been working on its water park and had the parking lot torn up as a consequence. Fab Fords wasn’t sure the lots would be restored by show time so they limited entries. Naturally, Knott’s had the lot paved and striped in the bare nick of time (during the last two days before the show), enough so Marc joked, “Yeah, the asphalt was still steaming this morning.”
Expect the usual bulging show field next year.
With Cobras marking their 55th anniversary this year, we quickly found a small but aesthetic cluster of snakes on the grass area Fab Fords reserves for anniversary cars. Now too expensive to display in public save by the most dedicated owners, the Cobras have morphed into unicorns and are seen about as often, so it was great to see some in the aluminum again.
Luckily, the Cobras at Knott’s were survivors in an arrested state of decay rather than over-restored Pebble Beach fodder. The crusty wheels, faded carpet, stone chips and crazed leather are authenticating virtues on these hairy old carts, and are treated as prized combat scars by Cobra owners more interested in preserving accomplishment and historical accuracy than building prestige.
Also featured nearby for its 85th year was the Flathead V-8, a paradigm-shifting engine and another mental trip to confront in person. With the Flathead era long consigned to dusty history, supplanted by our love of small-blocks, FEs, Clevelands, the 385 Series and now the current Coyote, it’s surprising to remember the Flathead was the world’s first affordable V-8 and ushered in a giant performance leap to the masses. More popular in its day than the 5.0-liter Ford and small-block Chevy combined, the Flathead doesn’t get a glance from kids, but is arguably Ford’s most important engine and worthy of a few moments of appreciation.
Knott’s is also happy hunting when stalking even rarer-then-Cobra beasts, such as factory race cars. One that snuck up on us was a B/FX Comet with the hood off to impress the natives via its four Weber downdrafts. The B/FX easily grabbed our eye as a marched by on our mission to see everything possible, but only after reviewing our photos did we notice it was owned by Rick Kirk of remote Ripley, Oklahoma. Probably the least seen but best collection of Ford rarities, exotic performance parts, factory and dealer memorabilia extant, Kirk’s collection fills a series of barns, any one of which could form a museum.
We also stopped to chat up Mario DeLeon because we liked the contemporary look of his early Mustang fastback, only to find we had featured the car in a previous life at the now-defunct Super Ford magazine (April 1999, p. 66-68). But back then the Fastback was blue with white stripes with a chromed-up, bottle-fed engine; now the car is Metallic Tangerine with a turbo small-block and new interior so we didn’t feel so bad for not recognizing it. And, we hadn’t met Mario previously, so we didn’t have to make excuses for our now completely porous memory, either.
Finally, we’ll admit a soft spot for the old and off-beat stuff that shows up at Knott’s. This isn’t the hardware we’d necessarily want to take home, mind you, but it often piques our interest or simply reminds of being young or some of the nutty ideas we had before becoming (somewhat) responsible citizens.