Monday, October 21, 2019

32nd-Annual Wilson Bank Oktoberfest Car Show brings the best of the AACA to Lebanon

For 32 years, Wilson County Bank has hosted the big Oktoberfest event at their main branch in Lebanon, Tenn. That tradition continued last weekend, including the big AACA car show on Sunday. The car show season tends to wind down quite a bit after this weekend, but not before 451 entries converged on about four different parking lots to make up this last-ditch blowout. I’ve been to this show before, but this was the first time I entered a car. Not only did my car take home a class award, but I got to spend the day hanging out with my teenaged son, and we were able to take our time studying all the nice cars and trucks on display.

This was the first car that caught my eye right as we were pulling in. It’s a ’68 Impala station wagon finished in Grotto Blue with a matching vinyl bench seat. These old wagons didn’t always have a ton of equipment, but this one actually did come with some fun goodies. There’s a 327 V8 in there that not only moves the car around, but also powers the factory air conditioning. It’s got a clock, a tach, remote mirror, and rally wheels (with ’67 centers). This old car was nice and straight, and kind of reminded me of a much nicer version of the gold ’67 Bel Air wagon my mom had when I was a kid. I just thought it was fun to look at, and it was one of my favorites at the show.

Here’s another old wagon that, while I’m not going to say I love it, is still pretty fascinating. This ’72 AMC Hornet Sportabout would stand out just because it’s nice, original, and not rusted away. But it also has the added attraction of being a “Gucci” model. Yes, the same Gucci that makes $5,000 handbags, shoes, jewelry, and whatever else Gucci makes, also paired up with AMC for a couple of years to put their stamp of approval on these high-fashion beauties. AMC actually pumped out more than 2,500 of these in 1972, but they’re still pretty unusual to find today. The dominant feature is obviously the interior, which includes green and cream vinyl with an orange stripe running through it, and fancy Gucci crests on the fenders and door panels. It would be hard to really say it’s tasteful, but it is wonderfully craptastic in the nicest sense of the word.

Here’s an ’84 Monte Carlo that is absolutely impossible to miss. Of course, it’s painted up to look like Darrell Waltrip’s 1983 Winston Cup stock car, complete with yellow and white Pepsi markings and all the contingency sponsors. This was a great looking paint scheme when Darrell drove it, and it still looks great today. This isn’t a real race car; it’s a tribute that can be driven on the street. But it still has a roll bar and Aero racing wheels, and it looks almost just like the race car because NASCAR race cars looked almost just like the street cars back then. The man himself, ol’ D.W. even signed the dashboard for that added level of authenticity.

So I know what you’re thinking—this is a ’57 Thunderbird. Well, yes and no. It absolutely looks like a ’57 Thunderbird, but if you look a little closer, some of the dimensions and details are just a little off. That’s because it’s a replica ’57 T-Bird, built by a company called Camelot in the mid-1980s. The reason it intrigues me is that it was done to such a high-level. Guys with real ‘Birds would love to have those wheels. It has a V8 in it, which was an upgrade on these. There’s nice Naugahyde upholstery, plush carpeting, and machine-turned trim on the dash. Genuine ’57 T-Birds aren’t that uncommon, which makes it all the more amazing how much quality and detail they went into making this replica.

Here’s a genuine, Chevrolet-built 1967 Corvette coupe. There were several exceptional Midyear Corvettes at this show, but I’m focusing on this one because I like how it was spec’d-out. The Regal Red paint was split down the middle with a Tuxedo Black stripe, which covered up a hood scoop feeding into a 400-hp, 427-c.i. big block with three carburetors. It also had factory air conditioning, power windows, red leather seats with the optional headrests, sidepipes, passenger mirror, and a four-speed. I’m sure there were some other mechanical options that I didn’t even notice. Whoever ordered this one checked a lot of boxes. ’67 is my favorite year for the Corvette, and this one was outstanding.

I tend to stick more with stock-style vehicles than street rods on this page, but I thought this ’54 GMC “100” pickup deserved a shout-out. Everything about this was built with quality. The Sunset Orange-type paintjob was flawless. The quilted leather seats were rich and luxurious. The way they upholstered the tire cover to match the seats was also a nice touch (although I wouldn’t recommend leaving it out in the rain!). It had a lot of the usual checklist covered. Of course, there was a billet aluminum-drenched Chevy small block, Vintage Air, aftermarket gauges, steering wheel, tilt column, and modern aluminum wheels. All of that stuff was done to formula. But it was such quality work, especially with the paint and upholstery, that you almost had to take a second look.

And speaking of taking a second look, here’s your chance to take a second look at all the cars at the 32nd-Annual Oktoberfest Car Show. As I said, there were 451 entries there, but I took 689 pictures, so that ought to give you a good idea about what things looked like. See the entire photo album by clicking this link.

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