54th-Annual Kansas City World of Wheels. The cars were clean in 2014
Valentine’s Day was last Friday, and Kansas City car folks had a lot to love when the 54th-Annual World of Wheels rolled into Bartle Hall over the weekend. Around here, this is the first big car show of the year, and it was just what the doctor prescribed for cabin fever. From a live appearance by Richard and Kyle Petty, to a top chop by old time customizer Gene Winfield, to hundreds of cars and motorcycles of all kinds, this was the place to be in K.C. As you may have guessed, I had my camera with me. Let’s check out some of the fun stuff that made the show.
Without hesitation, I would pick “Red Fever,” a 1929 Ford Model A custom, as my favorite car in the room. You’ll notice that I took a bunch of pictures of it. A lot of guys try and build “traditional” customs, but this really is one. You see, this car was built in 1960, and it looked almost exactly like it does today. I remember it from my dad’s old magazines. It was built by Frank Pennington, made the show circuit, and sold a few years later. Then it returned to the Pennington family, went into storage, and never saw the light of day again until now. The recent restoration was perfect, and they just don’t get any more authentic.
This is another one that was shown a long time ago and came back this year. This ’64 Corvette was built in the late 1970s, and the sign says it was shown at the World of Wheels in 1978. It’s a radical custom, and features a reworked body, T-top roof, shag carpeting, and wild paint. It obviously hadn’t been redone since it was customized, and it showed some of signs of 35 years of use. On one hand, this car is terrible—what a waste of a ’64 Corvette. But on the other hand, it is a time capsule. This is the way the high-end cars were done in 1978. It is history. The only thing it really needs to complete the theme is some wide slotted mags on glass-belted tires. Those big, shiny Torque Thrusts don’t fit the theme.
From the same era, here’s a 1979 Cadillac DeVille that was somewhat special. American car companies stopped building convertibles in 1976, so companies like Hess and Eisenhardt were tasked with converting coupes like this one. The workmanship on this car was top-notch, but the price tag was astronomical. That’s why you rarely see cars like this. The condition on this red/red example was very nice, and with only about 50,000 miles since new, it still has a lot of life left in it. This would have been quite a car in its day, and I think it’s still pretty special now.
That DeVille wasn’t the only completely stock looking coupe that had been converted into a working convertible, however. I had been admiring this ’55 Packard Caribbean for much of the weekend, and I eventually met a couple of guys from Ed’s Body Shop that did the restoration. Turns out, this car started out as a two-door hardtop, but Ed’s made all the structural and cosmetic modifications to turn it into this stunning ragtop. I can’t even imagine someone taking on a project like this. This car will soon be on display at the Kansas City Automotive Museum when they open up in Olathe.
This 1978 Silverado 4X4 is more than meets the eye. It was in the Chevrolet display, and it was not your ordinary used pickup. It was actually a General Motors project vehicle, and in addition to a spectacular restoration, it had a new LC9 5.3-liter V8 crate engine with 336-hp. It even had its own special emblems. This is the kind of stuff that normal people have a hard time getting right, but when you put the people that create new cars on a project like this, the sky’s the limit. Known as the EROD, this cool truck was originally built for the SEMA show.
One expectation you have with a show like this versus something like a local car cruise is that there will be some over-the-top, radical, out-of-town show-stoppers, like this unforgettable ’47 Hudson pickup. This thing is pure eye candy, with a spectacular PPG color combination of Bad, Bad Leroy Brown over Green Acres Pearl. Jason McPike brought the truck up here from Spring, Texas, in an enclosed trailer, no doubt. It’s loaded with custom touches, some of them obvious, and some so subtle you’d never notice them. A 383-c.i. Chevy powers the pristine show truck in and out of the garage.
And speaking of trucks, here’s one that is the complete opposite of that Hudson. Yep, it’s my old heap, nestled between the rat rods in the “Old Skool 1961” display. I expected an official to come by at any moment and tell me to move the old ’63 Chevy C-10 out of the building, but surprisingly, that didn’t happen. In fact, when I hung out with it, people were saying unexpectedly nice things. I heard lots of stories about trucks like this that other people had, and there were even several people that mentioned that they follow this website. I really had fun meeting all the new people and catching up with some old friends at this show. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do this because my truck is hardly worthy, but as it turned out, I’m glad I did.