Never-ending fun at the Hot Rods on Beale Street Cruise
Former president Jimmy Carter was spotted on Tuesday night checking out all the great rides at Hot Rods on Beale Street. That’s the power of staging a car cruise on one of the most iconic streets in America--you never know who might show up. And why wouldn’t they? This is one of the most exciting, highly charged car events I’ve ever been to. It’s more like a big street party. Sure, the cars are great, but it’s the food, the music, and the people that make this one special. That doesn’t mean I’m going to ignore the cars, though. As usual, I snapped and bunch of pictures and have a few opinions on several of my favorites.
Here’s an uber-rare 1968 Shelby GT500KR convertible. As you probably know, anything associated with Carroll Shelby is special, and this one is more desirable than most. These had a big ol’ 428-c.i. “Cobra Jet” V8 that pumped out 335-hp, so they could definitely hold their own at the height of the muscle car wars. This wasn’t a sleeper, though. Shelby wanted everyone to know you had a hot car, so they added special fascias, hoods, stripes, and other bits. A Shelby GT500KR like this is worth well into the six-figure territory, so the fact that this Lime Gold beauty was even out here among this huge crowd of people was a nice treat indeed.
When people think about vintage Thunderbirds, they usually go straight to the two-seaters built between 1955 and 1957. But in 1958, the Thunderbird was made into a four-seat luxury vehicle. It may seem crazy now, but sales of the Thunderbird soared after that change. These were even the first Motor Trend “Car of the Year.” Today, most enthusiasts call these cars built between 1958 and 1960 “Square Birds”, and this ’59 at the Beale Street Cruise was a great example. These had really nice interiors and great little details throughout. Look at all that chrome, Naugahyde, and Mylar. You’ll never see a car built like this again, and the world is worse off for it.
In 1967, Chevrolet named the colors of Corvettes after famous racetracks. The Elkhart Blue on this ’67 Corvette was named after Elkhart Lake’s Road America in Wisconsin. They could get away with that, because these Corvettes were pretty racy. This one has a 300-h.p. 327, and it was the base engine. There’s a lot to like here, including a quality restoration, side pipes, aluminum wheels, and aftermarket air conditioning. I also liked the headrests, which is an option you don’t see all that often. The big block Corvettes get all the attention, but if you wanted a livable, drivable car that you could actually enjoy on the weekends, this is the way to go.
The color on this ’69 Camaro was actually named after a racetrack as well. LeMans Blue is the hue on this pretty little SS. The fender emblems indicate that there’s a 350-c.i. small block residing under the “Ice Cube Tray” trim on this car’s hood. You can likely assume it has some upgrades from stock, though. The larger Torque Thrust wheels and aftermarket steering wheel lead you to that conclusion. It sure is a pretty car. Hidden headlights might not be necessary. Heck, they even cause problems when the break. But what a good-looking option. And isn’t that what it’s all about?