The Gladfest Car Show has nothing to do with Gladfest anymore, but it's still a great event
For years, the Gladfest Car Show was one of the crown jewels of the Northland. But they eventually outgrew their location, and last year the event dropped from the schedule. Don’t get too upset though, because it was back again this year and better than ever. They moved it to the Antioch Worship Center, and despite the name, it is on a different weekend than Gladfest now. If you were there, you know that moderate temperatures, copious sunshine, and plenty of space made for a top-notch event in Happy Rock.
It’s hard for me to resist nice, original old cars, and this ’64 Oldsmobile Dynamic 88 pulled me in like a tractor beam. There was a lot on this car that was exactly like it came from the factory, including much of the Pacific Mist paint, the seat upholstery, and those fancy cast aluminum wheel covers. I wonder where this car has been for almost 50 years that it can still be this nice. GM had such clean, solid designs back then. They’re just so neat and buttoned-up. They’re like the car version of an engineer or astronaut.
Here’s an old GM car that’s a little more unruly. It is a 1972 Buick GS with an ultra-rare 360-hp “Stage 1” 455-c.i. engine. The owner had a sign with all kinds of interesting factoids, like it was one of only 626 Stage 1s. It was one of 57 in Flame Orange. And it has its original interior. I just thought it looked dynamite with the white seats and wide Buick Road Wheels. This is a very special car, and definitely a treat to run across at a local car show like this. I’ll bet this thing is a burnout machine.
This ’60 El Camino reminds me of an old annual 3-in-1 scale model kit. Those 1/25th-scale kits would let you build them as “stock, custom, or drag,” and this model builder chose some of the custom parts. It had the hood louvers, full-length lakes pipes, and three carburetors atop its 348. It even had air conditioning. It also featured some nice pinstriping, and lots of chrome. I’ll bet that gauge pod gets a little bright when the sun hits it. Rounding out the look is a set of ’57 Dodge wheel covers, a popular choice among customizers back in the day.
I stopped and talked to Jack Phillips, the owner of this little ’67 Mustang coupe for a few minutes. Jack purchased this car from the first owner some 20 years ago. At first glance, it’s about as unspectacular as a Mustang could get. No stripes. No fancy wheels. It’s not even a very striking color. But it does have a V8, it is exceptionally nice, and it has a really unusual bench seat. You can just feel the pride of ownership here. Sometimes they don’t have to be 500-hp ground-pounders to be special.
You might not think of a ’69 Ford Fairlane station wagon when you’re coming up with a list of cool cars, but then you see one like this and your list needs to be changed. This is what Frank Bullit would drive if he had two kids and a wife. This car works because of its simplicity. The stark white paint contrasts with the tinted windows and blacked-out trim, and the lowered stance with those black Torque Thrust-style wheels all fits perfectly. This is one of those cars that wouldn’t sound too fantastic if you described it to somebody, but once you see it, you get it.