Thursday, November 10, 2016

The car show season is alive at Horsepower by the River 5

One of the best promoted car shows of the year took place last weekend in Carthage, Tenn., with the 5th installment of the Horsepower by the River Car Show and Swap Meet at the Smith County Ag Center. I swear, those little hero cards that promote this show start showing up the day after the thing is over, and I somehow accumulate 20 of them before the end of the season. The marketing mastermind behind this event is Shawn Cook, a regular participant at swap meets and car shows all over Nashville with his Music City Speed and Nostalgia tent. Shawn was able to break an attendance record this year, drawing in nearly 300 cars and trucks. And of course, when you get that many, you know there are going to be some nice ones. Let’s check out a few of the standouts.

’57 Oldsmobiles don’t turn up all that often, so when I see one, I have to take some time to check it out. This Super 88 two-door hardtop had that high-end resto-mod thing going on, with modern conveniences paired up with vintage style. That lipstick red paintjob contrasted perfectly with the stylish white leather interior. Of course it had air conditioning, power windows, power brakes, and all the other accoutrements a 21st-century driver expects. But no matter what you do to a ’57 Olds, there’s no denying that these are pretty cars. The lavish chrome dashboard alone could be a featured attraction in an art museum. Makes you wonder why Oldsmobile ever went out of business.

This ’69 Dodge Super Bee won the coveted “best of show” award. I had a hard time taking a clear picture of it because owner Glen Randall wouldn’t stop polishing it. This is the kind of car that MOPAR aficionados freak out about. The hood was levitating over a big old 440-c.i. plant with three two-barrel carburetors (that’s where the “Six Pack” comes from). And although it might not have a Hemi, it was painted in Hemi Orange, which is the next best thing. You don’t see too many cars now that are so serious about being badass that they don’t come with things like hood hinges and hubcaps. This one was perfect in every way, and was more than deserving of the top prize.

This ’66 Chevy short bed was a pretty little thing. It was a factory Custom Cab, so it had the nice seat upholstery, steering wheel, and extra chrome bits. It was also loaded with GM accessories. Some of them were pretty desirable, like the center-mounted clock, smokeless ash tray, Chevrolet litter bag, and tissue dispenser. It also had the factory in-dash air conditioning system to keep things nice and cool. The V8 appears to be a later model unit that maybe doesn’t fit the rest of the period-correct stuff, but I’m sure it makes it a more enjoyable truck to drive than the original 327. This is the stuff that all the truck guys are looking for.

I’ve always been a fan of late-‘60s full-sized fastback coupes, and these ’68 Chrysler 300s were among the best looking. The sweeping roofline, hidden headlights, fender hash trim, and five-spoke rally wheels do a good job of making this Olive Green Chrysler look sporty, even if it does have fender skirts. The interior is also very impressive. It’s sort of like a Barracuda in there, but much fancier. This one even has a 440-c.i. engine in it kind of like the Super Bee we just talked about. There are no cartoon bugs or anything here, though. The 300 was a little too classy for that. The only drawback to this car would be that your garage would need to be extra-long. Flowing style like this takes up some space.

I never thought I was a fan of these bulky ’53 Dodge pickups, but one as nice as this has an adorable, oafish, tough-guy charm. Dodge had the words “Job Rated” embossed in the middle of the painted grille, so clearly this was not meant to be a luxury vehicle. It was meant to work, and this one could work harder than most with that big, old “Chrysler Industrial” Hemi beneath the side-opening hoods. This was just a great looking shop truck, and it was probably even nicer in real life than it appears in the photos. The only problem with it now is that it’s so nice, you wouldn’t actually want to press it into heavy-duty service and beat it all up.

If you like pictures, you’ll like this part of the story. I took 400 pictures at the 2016 Horsepower by the River Car Show, and you can see them all at this link. I think I took everything that was there, but I know a few more cars showed up after I left. Get there earlier next time, slackers!


  1. Thanks for the article and the great pics!

  2. It was a great show and I was happy to be a part of it. Thanks for sharing!