Friday, August 10, 2018

Hot Rods on Beale Street still singin' the Blues in 2018

There are lots of good car shows and cruises around the country, but few take place at a more famous location than the monthly Hot Rods on Beale Street Cruise in Memphis. The Home of the Blues is completely lined with beautiful cars and trucks that are there by invitation only. There’s no D.J. or food trucks at this cruise, because the air is filled with wall-to-wall live Blues music and soul food. It’s like nothing else I’ve ever been to. I’m in Memphis fairly regularly, but my schedule only meshed with the June and July editions of this event, so I’m combining them together for this story.

Believe it or not, a big old Eldorado convertible like this paced the Indianapolis 500 in 1973. They only built 566 pace car replicas, so if this is the real deal it’s pretty rare. The pace car decals were on the dash instead of the doors, but I still liked it. These were only the second front-wheel-drive car to ever pace the Indy 500, behind the 1930 Cord. The color on these was Cotillion White with Scarlet Sierra Grain leather. The actual pace car even had white letter tires. Sure, that’s a long hood. But there’s a 500-c.i. big block Cadillac V8 under there. Old pace cars have always interested me, and it’s always neat to see something that isn’t your typical Corvette, Camaro, or Mustang.

Mustangs always seem to make up the lion’s share of this event, and here’s a nice one that you don’t see every day. It’s a 1979 Mustang Cobra in Medium Vaquero Glow. Now, obviously if a car comes with a flaming cobra decal on the hood, you should expect it to have deadly speed. This one has Ford’s famous 5.0-liter V8 with a whopping … wait for it … 140-hp. Dammit, 1979, what the hell’s wrong with you?! Oh well. This car was extraordinarily nice. I liked it because it was still stock and representative of what one of these would look like when it was new. There are jillions of modified Fox-bodied Mustangs out there, but it’s nice to see a little history preserved once in a while.

Sticking with the 1970s theme, Art and Speed from Collierville brought this Rosso Red ’71 De Tomaso Pantera to the cruise. As Fernando said on Saturday Night Live, “it’s better to look good than to feel good.” I believe that sentiment sort of applies to Panteras. I don’t think they were worth a darn, but you have to admit that this car looks pretty sporty. The idea on these was that you had a mid-engine, Italian-designed exotic with a big ‘ol Ford V8 under the deck lid. This 351-c.i. Cleveland had some old-school hot rod parts like an Edelbrock intake manifold and a Holley Demon carburetor. I might not choose this one to take home, but it really stood out, and it always had a crowd around it.

This ’72 Plymouth Duster was one of the slickest cars at the show. The Duster was to the Valiant what the GTO was to the LeMans. These had a 245-hp, 340-c.i. V8, which wasn’t too shabby in a small car like this in 1972. You know it has a 340 because there’s a big decal on the hood that says so. The time of day that I’m able to get to this cruise is when the sun is setting. These harsh lighting conditions not only make it hard to take pictures, but it also exacerbates every scratch and flaw in a car’s paint job. That’s not the case here, though. The Formal Black finish on this one is a mile deep and perfect in any light.

I guess I’ll close this story off with one last car from the 1970s. Here we’re looking at a 1972 Corvette roadster. This was just a basic Corvette, which is more than adequate as far as I’m concerned. It’s a great color—Ontario Orange Firemist with a Saddle interior. It has a 350 V8, a four-speed transmission, rally wheels with whitewalls, and a luggage rack for your suitcases. The only option I wish it had that it doesn’t would be air conditioning, but I guess you don’t need that in a convertible anyway. I actually liked this car a lot, and would rather have it as a keeper than that more exotic-looking Pantera. It’s a pretty car that looks like it would be a fun driver too.

And speaking of pretty cars, this photo collection contains a June and July Beale Street double-header. I’m not going to get back to this cruise again this year, so if you want to check out the pictures, these are them. There are 319 photos in this album, and you can see them by clicking this link.

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