“It’s been a year now,” I growled, looking over Mopar Connection’s project car “Brazen,” a ’69 Dodge Charger R/T. Last year, I drove Brazen out to – what was then – the 13th Goodguys Nashville Nationals. The show went well, and man, did the 10-second street-driven Charger draw a crowd; but poor flow through the radiator’s lower tank absolutely cooked our Silver Sport Transmissions‘ A41 overdrive on my way home that blisteringly hot late-Spring day. I limped the Charger home, dropped the pan and assessed the damage. The 4-speed overdrive would need a complete rebuild, as well as a far better, remote cooling system.
Now a year later, and Brazen still up on jackstands, I really didn’t have a cool car to drive to the event. Held in the shadow of Nissan Stadium in downtown Nashville, the annual Goodguys’ event beckoned over 2,500 hot rods, customs, classics and muscle cars from across the Middle South – and here I was piloting the family Durango with my two youngest children along for the ride. Even more frustrating to those bringing their own cars was the weather prediction for the 3-day weekend: scattered showers, brisk temperatures and heavy thunderstorms in the evenings.
There was a light mist when I unloaded the kids from the Dodge and walked through the front gates. The roar from the Goodguys AutoCross paddock was muted as the rain watered down the track. Presented by Optima Batteries, the autocross series always has a huge draw, and the adjoining parking was chocked full of race cars ready to strut their stuff. Thankfully, filtered rays of sunlight dried the track enough to permit the cars to battle the clock throughout most of the day. Nearby, mechanics poured over the blown injected Hemis preparing for the Nitro Thunderfest Dragster Exhibition.
Again, so much depends on the weather, and rain had held back most vendors from setting up in the swap meet area. Other vendors and manufacturer exhibits were set up beneath the protection of the Titan Stadium’s bleachers, with companies like FiTech EFI displaying their various electronic fuel injection arrangements. Outside, the larger tractor trailers from Optima Racing, Prestone, and several others were in attendance; even local custom rod shop, Team Witt were in full force. Parked next to American Powertrain‘s booth was a pair of wicked custom Mopars; a ’67 Charger and a ’69 Barracuda each touting a supercharged Gen3 Hemi.
The Goolsby Customs tent featured several customs, but stood out far beyond the rest: Kasper, a wild retro Pro-Street inspired ’74 Plymouth Duster powered by a Hellcat Gen3 Hemi and Bowler Performance 6-speed transmission. Equipped with Vintage Air and massive 6-piston Baer Brakes brought the 700-plus-horsepower A-body to a halt, visible through the custom one-off EVOD 18-inch wheels. In the general parking area, I eyed an usual sight; a heavily oxidized ’61 Chevrolet Biscayne touting a wild twin-turbo pressed 6.1L Hemi with scalloped blow-off ports cut into the front fenders. Chevy purists loathed the car. Personally, I loved it. You decide where you stand on it.
In fact, there were as many late-model Hemi swapped Mopars as there were vintage LA, B and RB-block powered machines in attendance. It made it abundantly clear that the new Hemi was as accepted as vintage powerplants. The Music City Mopar Club had staked out a shady spot near the entrance, showing a ’69 Barracuda, a ’70 Challenger and a Sport Fury. A pair of big-rimmed ’69 Plymouths (a Road Runner and GTX) were found sprinkled about, as was a first generation Charger. Toss in a D100 van and an AMX, and we had a pretty eclectic selection of Mopar iron even in spite of the drizzling skies.
Pushing a stroller along helped me blend in to the crowd as a regular ol’ car enthusiast. I chose not to even don a Mopar shirt just so that I could slip in, snap some pics, greet the few who knew me by name, and slip out without any sort of fanfare. I’m by no means a celebrity but with kids in tow, a drawn-out conversation almost ends in little hands getting into mischief, and I didn’t want that at all. I filled up my camera’s data card with hundreds of pictures of gorgeous American iron before realizing it was time to pack things up and head back home. Contacts for future car features and shop tours were made and I skirted back to the parking lot.
Unfavorable weather carried over the weekend, but it did little to scare the hardcore enthusiasts away. More cars piled in Saturday morning in the face of impending storms. Ironically, Sunday (which is normally Goodguys’ thinnest attendance) saw the best outlook, with crystal blue skies and warmer temperatures. The autocross racers got plenty of time careening through the cones, and those with their cars on display were treated to the awarding of several trophies. Show season is definitely in full swing, and this past weekend was irrefutable proof.