If you were reading an article about an auto show that took place in 1969, complete with photo slideshow, you would think that was pretty cool, right? That’s why I keep covering the local new car show. Someday, someone is going to look back on this, and they’re going to love it. In the context of today, the Nashville International Auto Show is fairly weak. Several key manufacturers didn’t even bother to participate. There were no concept cars. The most interesting display was the “DuPont Registry Live” exotic car collection, and you had to subscribe to a $45 magazine to get close to it. Sure, there were some cars there that any red-blooded enthusiast would like to have, but come back to this in 50 years and you’ll really appreciate it.
I’ve lived in Old Hickory, Tenn., for more than two years, but I’ve never been to a car show that actually took place in Old Hickory. That all changed last Saturday when we took the truck over to the Old Hickory Fellowship Car Show. This was a nice little church fundraiser that attracted a quality group of cars and trucks in a grass field next to the Dairy Queen. It was a pretty low pressure event, and they gave out some door prizes along the way. Hanging out with car folks on a nice day and watching the traffic sail by isn’t a terrible way to spend and afternoon. Being able to check out some nice rides doesn’t hurt either.
One of the best promoted car shows of the year took place last weekend in Carthage, Tenn., with the 5th installment of the Horsepower by the River Car Show and Swap Meet at the Smith County Ag Center. I swear, those little hero cards that promote this show start showing up the day after the thing is over, and I somehow accumulate 20 of them before the end of the season. The marketing mastermind behind this event is Shawn Cook, a regular participant at swap meets and car shows all over Nashville with his Music City Speed and Nostalgia tent. Shawn was able to break an attendance record this year, drawing in nearly 300 cars and trucks. And of course, when you get that many, you know there are going to be some nice ones. Let’s check out a few of the standouts.
You shouldn’t need a reason to go to church on Sundays, but the First Baptist Church of Nashville offered a compelling incentive anyway. Beneath the downtown skyscrapers and surrounded by Bridgestone Arena, the 196-year-old house of worship hosted a nice little car show after this week’s services. And although it wasn’t the biggest event I’ve ever been to, every car on display was nice. Quality beats quantity every time, and when you put a group of cars like this in a cool downtown setting, it is definitely something worth checking out.
If you’ve been following this blog for any time at all, you know there are a lot of car shows out there. But where do people get all those cars? Certainly, some people inherit them, build them, find them in barns. But not everyone wants to go through all the hassle. For them, places like Streetside Classic Cars exist. You can drive right up to La Vergne, Tenn., walk into an air-conditioned showroom, and take your pick from hundreds of detailed, show-ready classics. The thing that got me about this place was how nice most of the vehicles actually were. Whoever they’ve got out there buying these things must know what they’re doing. Of course, I went there and poked around the other day. Let’s check out some of the standouts.
When I decided to run over and snap a few quick pictures of the 29th-Annual Oktoberfest Car Show after church last Sunday, I had no idea what I was getting into. It looked like hundreds of cars lined up on the shady front lawn of the Wilson County Bank corporate headquarters. Once I got through those, I looked across the street and realized there was an even bigger lot full of vehicles to tackle. Then, when I was nearing the end of that area, I noticed yet another lot full of cars down the street. In all, there were easily 500 cars in three different areas. This show is no joke. The selection of cars was pretty serious too. If you couldn’t find something to like at this show, you just don’t like cars.
Goodguys Rod and Custom shows are usually flashy, highly polished events held at beautiful, state-of-the-art facilities. The Nostalgia Nationals held at Beech Bend Park in Bowling Green, Ky., is different. Beech Bend has more character than any of these new places. An amusement park was built here in the 1940s, and still operates today. The drag strip and circle track were added in the ‘50s. The drag strip in particular is like going back in time. At this event, they were running vintage slingshot dragsters, gassers, and even nitro floppers. You sit in ancient, well-worn grandstands. You can just feel the history here. And speaking of history, let’s take a look at some of the historic vehicles that packed the show field.
I decided to try something different this year at the Fall Redneck Rumble in Lebanon, Tenn. Instead of just parking my truck out there, I loaded it up with junk to sell at the swap meet. It was fun … for a while. I moved a little stuff. I talked to all kinds of people about the truck, my merchandise, and anything else that came to mind. I really did enjoy it. But then, around lunchtime, the rain started pouring down in buckets, just as the weatherman had predicted. I closed up shop and set out to take pictures. Unfortunately, many of the show cars I saw when I came in had already left because of the weather. There were still enough out there to make a good story, though. Some of those rat rod guys aren’t going to let a little water bother them!