Monday, January 19, 2015

24th-Annual Nashville AutoFest breaks up the winter blues

Car show season screeches to a halt during the winter, but for two-dozen years, enthusiasts have met in Nashville in January for the big AutoFest Car Show at the Tennessee State Fairgrounds. The 2015 installment was a nice mix of show cars and swap meet vendors, meaning that there was something to see for every type of automotive interest. This was my first AutoFest, but several people told me this was the one to go to. I’m glad they did, because as you will see below, there was quite a bit of great stuff there.

This Lynndale Blue ’67 Corvette coupe was one of those cars that could stop you in your tracks. The appeal was in the originality. The thinning paint and white vinyl seats were the same stuff that rolled out of the St. Louis Assembly Plant in 1967. The owner said he has owned it since 1981, and hasn’t actually driven it since about 1990. In a way, it’s sort of a sad story, because this car could be a pretty nice driver. But on the other hand, it’s nice to be able to look at a well-preserved 400-hp 427 Corvette. Either way, I liked seeing it there.

If you think the Smokey and the Bandit-style Trans Ams were the only cool black and gold vehicles from General Motors in the 1970s, you’ve never seen a “Gentleman Jim” GMC pickup. They only made a handful of these for the 1975 model year, but they were fancy. Not only did they have all those shiny decals and gold trim, but they came with sporty bucket seats and rich wood trim. I remember them from back in the day, but they were few-and-far between. The owner of this truck bought it new, and had it restored about ten years ago. He had a for sale sign on it. I mentioned to him that he’d miss it if someone actually bought it, and he said yeah, he’d probably cry.

The sign says this is a ’34 Mercury truck, but since Mercury didn’t even exist until 1939, I assume they are referring to the flathead under the hoods. Either way, this is a good looking ’34 Ford pickup, with some very nice craftsmanship and sharp attention to detail. You might expect to see a truck like this in an early issue of Hot Rod Magazine, although I doubt most of them were actually this nice. A lot of guys try and get this look, and some do better than others. This one nailed it.

You can’t go wrong with a ’72 Chevy Blazer, especially when it looks like this yellow one. This rig was done right, with black vinyl bucket seats, a mean stance, and shiny Torque-Thrust-style wheels. The main thing I liked about it, though, was the condition. You wouldn’t think that this was meant to use for camping, or bouncing around in the mountains, or traversing a stream. This thing looks like sweet, melted butter, not like the utility vehicle it was originally designed to be.

“Tennessee Thunder” is a 1971 Dodge Demon that used to burn up the Pro Stock circuit with veteran racer John Livingston. Livingston raced this car all over the country, but it was eventually hidden away, not to come out of storage for many years. Today, the car is a very nice time capsule of the way these door slammers used to be. The car is currently owned by Lee Crowder, who is the grandson of Freeman Lee Crowder, Sr., the man who bought this car new. By the way, Livingston still drag races to this day—although not in this historic Demon.

Pictures? Yep. I’ve got about 250 of the in the slideshow below. Or, click this link for a nicer version.


  1. I have to say, Craig, this is an amazing collection of vehicles. This show seems to be representative of every automotive genre, from swap meet to the most original vehicles. I had never heard of the GMC Gentleman Jim Pickup. The 62 Corvette representation looked like something prepared for the National Roadster Show. Your photo work was well done and did an excellent job of representing an amazing cross section of the automotive world. Thanks for a job well done....Roger Grotewold, Grotewold Motor Co. Larchwood, Iowa

  2. Say... was there a selling price on that exquisite '61 Pontiac?
    The want is strong.