Monday, November 6, 2017

2017 Horsepower by the River 6 brought all the cars to Carthage

When you hit November, big car shows are hard to find. But obviously, Shawn Cook and the rest of the organizers of the Horsepower by the River Car Show didn’t get the memo. The 6th installment of this event brought nearly 300 cars to the Smith County Agricultural Center in Carthage, Tenn., and everyone enjoyed the nice weather, the model car show, and the swap meet. The only real complaint was that the lot was infested with bees. I guess they didn’t know it was fall either. There were several impressive choices, so it was tough to decide what to write about. But don’t worry—I’ve come up with a few.

One of my favorite cars was this 1962 Pontiac Catalina two-door hardtop. This Aquamarine beauty really had everything going for it. Under the hood was the big, ol’ 421-c.i. Super Duty power plant with two four-barrel carburetors. That was attached to a four-speed manual transmission. It was sitting on Pontiac eight-lug wheels wrapped in period-looking biased-ply rubber. The tri-color Morrokide bucket seats invited you to sit down and enjoy a mint julep (it actually won the “best interior” award). It was half badass muscle car, and half cool, refreshing afternoon by the ocean. It was fantastic.

Since I’m unable to pick one favorite, here’s the other. I don’t think it’s possible to like cars and not like this ’61 Corvette. I mean, seriously, just look at it. It’s Tuxedo Black all over. No painted coves. No whitewalls. No fancy wheel covers. All business. That carried on under the hood, as this car featured the hot Rochester fuel injection system that pumped horsepower up to either 275 or 315, depending on how hard-core the car was. This one had been restored, but it was so long ago that it’s starting to look original again. I drew a bead on this thing the moment it hit the gate, and I couldn’t wait for him to get parked so I could look at it up close.

I’ve looked at this car before, but it’s worth looking at again. As a companion to the Pontiac I already talked about, here’s the Chevrolet version. This Twilight Blue ’62 Impala two-door hardtop was one of the nicest cars at the show. Powered by a 327 small block with a four-speed manual, this was a desirable and unusual setup. The whitewalls are maybe a little too wide, which you wouldn’t even notice if the rest of the car wasn’t so perfect. I’m a germophobe, and I’d still probably eat soup out of the trunk well in this thing. It’s so nice I’d be afraid to drive it, but if you just want to drink in the details, this one would keep you entertained for hours.

There were A LOT of late model Mustangs at this show. If you like stock or slightly modified 2013 Mustang GTs, you’re going to love the photos. Among the modern Mustangs was this 1991 Saleen convertible (Is 1991 modern? I’m going to say it is). New Mustangs were sent to Saleen’s facilities in California and fitted up with stuff like big brakes, beefed up suspensions, fancy tires and wheels, stereo systems, and stripes. They only built 30 convertibles in 1991, so as my son likes to say about his Pokemon cards, this one is rare. It also was upfitted with a supercharger and other go-fast goodies, so it’s also fast.

Back in the 1980s, who would have ever thought you’d see one of these at a car show? This is the nicest ’81 Dodge Mirada I’ve seen in 30 years, and maybe the best looking one I’ve ever seen. I like the color combination of Impact Red with white guts. It was well-equipped, with bucket seats, aluminum wheels, and a machine-turned dashboard appliqué. The 318-c.i. V8 was under the influence of the “Solid State Combustion Computer,” so that’s pretty high-tech. These had very angular, very ‘80s styling, but I never minded them. They replaced the Dodge Magnum, which was a hideous beast as far as I’m concerned. I don’t think too many people give the Mirada much thought these days, but it’s fun to see one once in a while.

This is a model I entered in the model car show. It didn’t win anything, but it’s my blog, so you’re gonna hear about it. In 1959, all AMT 3-in-1 customizing kits featured this box art with the natty couple and this generic car. They’d stamp the end of the box to tell you if a Chevy or Ford or whatever was in there. I had this parts box ’59 Buick glue bomb in my collection, and I thought it would be fun to closely follow the serving suggestion on the box art. It took some time to restore the car, gather all the vintage antennas, louvers, and custom bits, plus nearly 60-year-old waterslide decals are a bit cantankerous. But you can’t just go to the store and buy what you need to make something like this, and I really like the way it turned out.

So there were 295 cars at 2017 Horsepower by the River Car Show, and I took 524 pictures. That ought to be enough. You can see all the pictures by clicking this link.


  1. Hi Craig, I enjoyed this collection of great photographs of this car show. Especially liked the addition of the model Hover Motor Company Pickup. It looks like the model allergy has struck you again. That is really a neat model of your truck. Roger Grotewold, Grotewold Motor Company, Larchwood, Iowa

    1. Thanks, Roger. I've been dragging that model around forever. Always need a model of your own car!

  2. Nice show with great pics, I always enjoy your site. Tom

  3. Another SUPPER car show collection of pix - GREAT JOB!!
    Jeff in Fredericksburg

  4. ooops! Another SUPER car show...!