Monday, September 22, 2014

Redneck Rumble 2014

A couple weeks ago, the Greaserama car show was held in Kansas City. I had attended most of them, and was feeling bad that there wasn’t something like it here in my new home of Nashville. Several people told me that I needed to check out the Redneck Rumble in Lebanon, Tenn. They assured me that it would fill that void. So off we went this weekend to the birthplace of Cracker Barrel to check out what turned out to be a humongous gathering of rat rods and other stuff. So big was this event that I had trouble even remembering which rows I had been down. Between the cars and the swap meet, I didn’t know what to look at next.

If you want to see a genuinely sharp Shoebox Ford, look no further than this ’49 business coupe. You might think that the grille was somehow modified from a normal ’49 Mercury, but it’s all really from a’49 Mercury Meteor, which was the Canadian version of this style ’49 Ford. The beautifully understated side moldings were donated by a ’55 Pontiac Cheftan, and the razzle-dazzle is provided by a set of ’57 Cadillac wheel covers. Whoever built this car was really in tune with the way they were done back in the day, right down to the green jewel license plate fasteners.

’40 Ford coupes are always a great canvas for the perfect custom, and this copper-colored example looked like it was done in the mid-‘60s. The redline cheater slicks and matching front rubber was perfect in its bias-ply beauty. You can’t beat a Chevy small block with three carburetors and those cast Corvette valve covers. The Strato Buckets started life in a ’66 Olds Cutlass. Shiny five-slot mag wheels, four-on-the-floor, and the somewhat crusty patina was all just the way you wanted to see it. You could just smell the history emanating from this car.

Here’s a high-quality roadster with a Studebaker theme. I’m reaching that conclusion because it has a Studebaker V8 and the emblems to match. I liked it because it was built with a competition vibe, sporting that stylish sprint car snout and sleek bodywork. This show had rows and rows of rusty rat rods, and some of them really were interesting to look at. But when you throw something shiny and slick into the mix, it tends to stand out. That was the case here, because this one really drew you in.

This one looked like it was ready for the track as well. You can’t exactly call it a rat rod, because it’s finished off too pretty. But it is radical. It appears to have started life as a ’34 Chevy sedan. In this incarnation, it has a modern competition engine with twin turbochargers sitting up high, wide-five wheels that are as much like a vintage Ford as they are like a current late model stock car, and modern safety seats. Nods to the past include those wide whitewall Firestone Gum-Dipped pie crusts, ’59 Cadillac taillights, and a cut-down ’55 Chevy steering wheel.

The first car you think to build a hot rod out of might not be a Checker Marathon, but as four doors gain acceptance, they’re interesting because they’re unusual. We all know these were primarily taxi cabs, but there were a few sold to individuals, and I think this Marathon ER was one of them. I don’t know what year it is, but we can tell that it’s pre-’74 based on the more stylish bumper design. They were designed by Ed Cole, the same guy that penned the ’55 Chevy, so they have some similar characteristics. Like the ’55 Chevy, this also would have come with a Chevy V8, judging by the emblems. But unlike the Chevy, that rear seat is huge. You could haul your friends in comfort in this baby.

And speaking of unusual, check out this ’37 Terraplane pickup. First of all, just look at it. Clearly, this sleek, aerodynamic design was different than other trucks in 1937. It was based off Hudson’s Terraplane car, though, so it wasn’t as heavy duty as most of the other trucks in its day. But they handled great, and they had more Art Deco touches than the Chrysler Building. With a bit of primer here and some thin paint there, this one was showing its age. But for a 77-year-old truck, I’d say it’s holding up very well. Those fancy Mohair seats and the Lucite radiator mascot still looked great. The floor shift indicates that there might be some modern mechanicals going on here, but the overall shell still has the stuff.

There were a lot of vehicles driving around. You always had to be on your toes at this thing, or you could be squished by a motorized skateboard, rat rod, bicycle, or motor scooter. Sometimes, something particularly interesting would come around, like this half-scale ’57 Chevy. In 1971, MPC introduced a plastic model car line called “ZINGERS!” They were these radical, Ed Roth-style caricatures of popular cars. To promote the models, a few half-scale ZINGERS! made the show circuit. That’s what you’re looking at here. This thing is rare, valuable, and somewhat dangerous.

I suspect that there were more than 1,000 cars at this deal, so I could keep writing all day. But I’ll spare you all that blathering so you can get to what you really came here for; the pictures. I took 610 of them, which you can see in the slideshow below. Or, click this link for a nicer version.


  1. This has to be one of the most interesting and unusual gatherings of the automotive lifestyle I have ever seen. Craig, you must admit that this is probably a more interesting event to attend than some that have beautiful and exotic examples of the automotive culture. All the way from a Willys to a Nash Metropolitan and even including a shoebox with a Canadian Mercury grille. It certainly is a true indication of the love of modifying and changing our vehicles to our own style and taste. Thanks for this unique view of our country and how interesting it can be wherever we live and travel..........RogerG..................Grotewold Chevrolet Oldsmobile Company..............Larchwood, Iowa

  2. Craig, nice work as always. While you aren't good enough to be in 9 different publications like our pal Mr. VooDoo I will say you are an amazing friend (and connoisseur) of the car community. Your tireless coverage of events is appreciated. I hope you give out cards at these events so people can find your blog. Do you crazy kids still call it a blog? Anyway, as dad says, "Keep up the good work!" - The Mayor

  3. 1937 Hudson Terraplane done by Midsouthern Restorations in Cookeville TN