The Wilson County Fair in Lebanon, Tenn., has something for everyone. You like looking at fuzzy chickens? They’ve got them. You like smelling pigs? Take a whiff at the fair. Chocolate-covered bacon? Yep. Want to be so violently spun around on a ride that you puke? Tell your friends to stay clear of projectile corn dogs. Personally, I wanted to go there for the same reason I want to go anywhere—for the cars. The Mid-Tenn Regional Car Club hosted a big, one day car show, and it was a good one. More than 200 cars greeted visitors right at the entrance of the fair. It almost made me forget to check out the world’s tiniest woman in the carnival area.
For example, take a look at this ’54 Kaiser Manhattan. That Palm Beach Ivory paint was as smooth as melted butter, and the Signal Green roof really set it off. These Howard “Dutch” Darrin-designed Kaisers were quite modern for their time, and featured safety items such as a pop-out windshield and padded dash. These had a McCulloch supercharger that wringed 140-hp from the 226-c.i. flathead six. They only built 4,325 of these in 1954, so you aren’t likely to see one in the Wal-Mart parking lot anytime soon. This one was as nice as could be, inside, outside, and under the hood. I’ve always liked the looks of these cars, and they never seem to go out of style.
Another early-‘50s orphan at this show was this Black (sorry, no fancy name, just Black) ’51 Nash Ambassador Custom. There are a lot of things about this car that should not work. It’s a huge. It’s shaped like an upside-down bathtub. The fenders even cover the front wheels. This car has an odd design. And yet, when you look at it today, it works. How can you not like a car that has an interior that magically folds into a full-sized bed? That red lump under that long, rounded hood is a 235-c.i. inline-six good for 115-hp. You could either get a three-on-the-tree, or opt for a GM-sourced Hydramatic just like an Oldsmobile. This one had the three-speed, and it looked good in there, just like the rest of the car.
Here’s a ’60 Buick Invicta four-door sedan. This is not the most desirable body style, and Pearl Fawn is not the flashiest color. And yet, the eye is drawn to this particular Buick. Condition is the key here. This car is straight, nice, and unmodified. It just looks “right.” And in spite of its unassuming appearance, the Invicta was the performance-minded Buick in 1960. That 401-c.i. Nailhead is good for 325-hp, which wasn’t chump change in the early ‘60s. As you can see, 1960 Buicks were pretty cars, and, in my opinion, a huge improvement over the overwrought 1959 models. If you ever wanted to see what they looked like when they were new, look no further than this car right here.
Ten years earlier, Buicks looked like this. This 1950 Special has one of the most beautiful body styles ever applied to a car, the voluptuous Sedanette. This one was finished in Olympic Blue, and it had a rich blue leather interior. 120-hp churns out of that 248-c.i. straight eight. The bumper sticker proudly proclaimed, “0-60 in 5 miles.” This car wasn’t perfect. It’s got that “patina” look that everyone’s going for today. But really, it just looked like a nice, honest old car that you could have fun driving or showing without worrying about it too much. I think it’d be a blast to own this car.
Since I already gave a little time to one Nash, I guess I’ll throw in another one. Well, sort of. This is a first-year, 1975 AMC Pacer. Heck, this might be the nicest ’75 Pacer left in the world for all I know. The little fishbowl was finished in sporty Autumn Red with a matching interior. This one had all kinds of hidden custom touches, like finned Clifford valve covers, dual carburetors, twin-outlet exhaust, and some fancy ‘80s-style aluminum wheels. I noticed it drawing quite a bit of attention throughout the day. Wayne and Garth would be proud.
You can tell that I enjoyed the cars at this show, because I took 445 pictures. Most of them aren’t even blurry! You can see them in the slideshow below, or click this link for a nicer version.