Friday, October 26, 2018

Great Smoky Mountain Auto Fest was a nice surprise

For fall break this year, we decided to head down to Dollywood in Gatlinburg. Our hotel was right across the street from the Tennessee Smokies baseball stadium. Unbeknownst to me, the Smokies were hosting the Great Smoky Mountain Auto Fest the very same weekend! How does this happen to us? Crazy. So of course, I walked out of the hotel and over to the car show to see what this part of the state has to offer. The featured marque was Corvette this year, so of course they had some really nice Corvettes. But there were plenty of other great cars if Corvettes aren’t your thing for some inexplicable reason. I was there pretty early, so it’s possible that more cars showed up later, but the ones that were there seemed pretty good to me.

Any muscle car fan would probably go bonkers over this baby. It’s a ’69 Plymouth Road Runner with a 426-c.i. Hemi and a four-speed transmission. It’s finished in a sinister shade of Black Velvet with black wheels and little hubcaps. It has a no-nonsense bench seat. If you think of a “fun” car, you might picture an old Austin Healey of a jaunty Model A Ford or something. This is not that. This Road Runner is more like a weapon, designed to kill anyone who dares line up against it. If you look at it on the surface, it’s a chintzy old car with few creature comforts. But when someone decided to check the box for that 425-hp Street Hemi, the mission changed. This one was a nice as they come. I’m surprised they let me get this close to it.

Parked near the Road Runner, but completely different in every way, was this 1934 Oldsmobile Eight convertible. Actually, it had one thing in common: both of these cars were meticulously restored by Precision Rod and Custom. The color is Corona Beige, which I would usually think was just a horrible brown color. But on this car, it somehow looks elegant and right. Despite having an “8” in the grille, these actually had a 240-c.i. flathead six. This is an extremely rare car. I honestly don’t know that I’ve ever even seen another one. It exudes class from its swept back winged dancing lady mascot up front, to the leather-covered rumble seat out back.

We all know the popularity of the current Ford F-Series trucks. The beginning of the line was in 1948, and they looked just like this Strata Blue F-1 right here. Trucks were fairly basic in the late-‘40s, although with its chrome trim and wide whitewalls this one looks relatively fancy. This was the first F-Series truck, but “F-1” didn’t mean first F-Series. It just meant this was a half-ton. F-2 would have been a three-quarter-ton, F-3 would have been a one-ton. Think about this truck. 70 years ago this was built to be an appliance—something to haul trash or do work on a farm. But now, even after all that time, someone has restored it to be like new. It’s probably better than new actually. It’s nice to see things like this.

Few cars are more appealing than a Rio Red ’58 Impala two-door hardtop. I like the solid red here without the white two-tone roof. I love the multi-colored interior in these with the black, light red, and silver inserts. If you want to get nitpicky, there should be a little more silver on this car. The wheels on a ‘58 Impala would have been silver, as well as the area between the front bumper and grille. But a lot of them get done this way, which is a good indication that not everyone is hep to the way they did it from the factory. If this was a ’59 or ’60, we could tell if it had a 283- or 348-c.i. engine by the emblems, but in this case, we just know it’s a V8. It’s a nice car, and the accessory wheel cover spinners are a nice touch.

One year later you could walk into the same Chevy dealership where you bought that Impala and pick up this 1959 Corvette. While we’re on the subject of wheel colors, the black wheels on this ’59 are correct. Corvette was the featured model at this event, and this was an outstanding example. This car is two-toned with Roman Red as the main color and Snowcrest White in the coves. The big draw here is that it has fuel injection, which was the most expensive option you could put on one of these in 1959, and exceedingly rare. You see a lot of these early Corvettes at shows, and it seems like there’s always some little detail that they don’t get right. I couldn’t find anything like that here. This one was as slick as they come.

So here’s the thing about this show—I really didn’t know I was going to go to it. In fact, I didn’t even bring my camera. Luckily, I had my phone, and it takes reasonably decent pictures, so I went with that. I loaded up my Samsung Galaxy with 233 pictures, and you can see them all by clicking this link.

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