When it launched back in 2009, the Muscle Car and Corvette Nationals seemed like something a little different for the muscle car crowd, an alternative to the summertime outdoor events typically held at race tracks or fairgrounds. In fact, some eyebrows may have been raised when Bob Ashton and his small circle of devoted supporters organized the first of what has come to be known as “MCACN” as an indoor show, to be held in Chicago in November no less.
Yet, as the event readies to celebrate its 10th anniversary this weekend at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, Illinois, there’s no question that this was a brilliant idea. We know of no other event that gathers so many of the rarest, finest, and most intriguing examples of the muscle era in one place, providing the unique opportunity to behold these treasures in the comfort of a controlled climate, and with excellent lighting, all while mingling with like-minded fans and celebrities of this realm. It’s little wonder the event has become a must-attend for so many regulars and a “bucket-list” item for many more who’ve yet to make it.
Photo by Terry McGean.
The vehicles on display are all carefully curated by Ashton and the other members of MCACN, a tight group of expert enthusiasts with varying specialties. Each vehicle seen on the show floor has been individually invited, and the organizers take pains to ensure that attendees are not going to see the same cars year after year.
One of the hallmarks of this show is the grouping of special vehicles, often involving particular makes and models, sometimes linked by a certain engine. Some of these gatherings have been flat-out amazing, with ultra-rare cars lined up that may never have been in the same place at the same time ever before. A row of six of the eight 1969 Trans Am convertibles ever built comes to mind (it was nearly seven, and the eighth car was still missing at that time). A herd of Hemi E-body convertibles was another incredible sight to see.
There are also “Class of…” groupings for specific model years, displays of rare models from noted performance dealers and tuners, like Mr. Norm’s Grand Spaulding Dodge and Yenko Chevrolet, and examples of famous period race cars. Another very popular facet of MCACN is the Barn Find area, with recently unearthed specimens that are often still wearing the dust and decay of their lengthy hibernation. Many of these cars will only be publicly seen in this state once prior to undergoing restoration.
This year promises to continue the trend with more amazing displays, including the debut of some recently completed restorations, highlighted with unveiling ceremonies. As this is the 50th anniversary of 1968, many featured gatherings are related to that model year, including one for the Hurst Hemi Darts and Barracudas built for serious drag competition, another for the first Hurst/Olds models of that year, and one for dealer-special editions of the new-for-’68 Chevy II Nova.
Another big deal this year is the Plymouth Rapid Transit System Caravan cars, custom show cars that were built to draw attention to Plymouth’s performance models. These cars were hauled around the country to various auto shows in their day, and then forgotten, until one by one they were discovered and restored, and now reside in the collection of noted Mopar expert and collector, the late Steven Juliano. The Rapid Transit cars will be publicly shown for the first time as a group at MCACN this weekend, along with a number of examples of the rarest production Rapid Transit System models and Dodge’s Scat Pack performers.
Kevin Oeste (L) with Bob Ashton. Photo by Brad Miles.
But what if you can’t make it to this year’s gathering? For the first time, you’ll be able to get a look at some of the fantastic exhibits and hear from the people behind them in a live simulcast event on Saturday evening. Kevin Oeste will host V8TV’s Muscle Car and Corvette Nationals After Hours Live, Presented by Mecum, which can be viewed on Facebook or YouTube, accessed via the Muscle Car and Corvette Nationals Facebook page or V8TV’s page. The simulcast kicks off at 8 p.m., but note that we’re talking Central time, since it’s live from Chicago. Plenty of vehicles will be featured, along with interviews with some of the owners and restorers, plus you’ll hear from some of the people responsible for making the muscle era what it was back in the day. Among the interviews lined up are one with Jim Luikens, the man behind Berger Chevrolet’s performance parts program in the late ’60s and early ’70s, who will be discussing the invitational for COPO Camaro RS models at this year’s show. Chuck Miller, the man responsible for creating those Rapid Transit Caravan cars, will also be highlighted.
Make your plans to attend the show in person this weekend, and check out the live simulcast on Saturday night for an insider’s view of the show and some of its special guests.