The Classic Auto Show, presented by Hagerty Collector Car Insurance took place from March 16th– 17th, 2019. Previously held at the Los Angeles Convention Center in Los Angeles, California, the Classic Auto Show was held this year at the Orange County Fairgrounds in Costa Mesa, California. The show’s celebrity guests included Wayne Carini of Chasing Classic Cars, and Jessi Combs, who is a current land speed record holder. Only a handful of Mopars, most of which were very significant or one-off builds, were on display.
Parked in the Hangar booth were two examples of classic Resto-Mod Mopars, brought in by Mopar enthusiast Mark Worman, of Graveyard Carz. Worman brought in a beautiful 1971 Plymouth Barracuda finished in Sassy Grass Green, which was one of Mopar’s High-Impact colors of the early 1970s. Other examples of High-Impact colors included Panther Pink, Vitamin C Orange, and Tor-Red. Sitting underneath the Barracuda’s hood, was a modern Chrysler 392 Hemi V8. Adjacent to Worman’s Barracuda was a Dodge A-100 pickup truck that was dubbed the Little Dead Wagon. This A-100 is a tip of the hat to the famous Little Red Wagon wheelstander, which was driven by the late Bill “Maverick” Golden.
One of the big Mopar highlights that was on display at the Classic Auto Show, was the famous Hurst Hemi Under Glass, currently owned by Mike Mantel. Mantel drove the famous exhibition drag racer onto the show grounds that morning, receiving attention from the show’s participants. This modified 1968 Plymouth Barracuda has the mid-mounted Chrysler 426 cubic-inch Hemi, which can be seen through the rear window, hence the name “Hemi Under Glass.“
A similar engine setup was also used on the Barracudas that were sponsored by the Plymouth Dealer’s Association, which were raced by the late Tom “The Mongoose” McEwen, and “Fearless Fred” Goeske. The Hemi Under Glass was driven by “Wild Bill” Shrewsberry, who also drag raced one of the four 1966 Batmobiles built by the late car customizer, George Barris. Shrewsberry was also in attendance to answer questions to fans, who once saw this legendary car run. Mike also pointed out that the car he brought to the show was not the car that Bob Riggle crashed at Irwindale Raceway, with Jay Leno riding in the passenger’s seat. The car that Leno was riding in was in fact a brand new re-creation of the famed Hurst Hemi Under Glass.
Just a couple feet away from the Hemi Under Glass was another one of Mike Mantel’s projects: a build of the Little Red Wagon that was raced by the late Bill “Maverick” Golden. The work-in-progress looked to be an exact copy of the original car. As a matter of fact, Mike owns the original Little Red Wagon wheelstander, as well.
The original Little Red Wagon is still in original condition, having been wrecked in 1975. Mike explained that he has no plans for a restoration, but it can be done if he wanted to. The original Little Red Wagon still retains its original magnesium American Racing Torq Thrust wheels from the 1960s. Another artifact from this incredible piece of Mopar history, was the original Hilborn injection for the 426 Hemi, complete with the eight injector stacks that were on the car.
A Certificate of Authenticity states that the unit, number 116, was purchased; by Dick Brantster, who also owned the Color Me Gone, driven by Roger Lindamood. Jay Howell was later enlisted to drive the Little Red Wagon, until being replaced by Bill “Maverick” Golden. Eventually, the Little Red Wagon was heavily damaged in a crash in 1975, and sat outside for many, many years. Mike Mantel acquired this piece of Mopar history in 2015, and continues to tour with it.
Inside the Costa Mesa building, was a re-creation of the 1957 Plymouth Savoy that was owned by Wally Parks, who founded the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) in 1951. Parks was also the co-founder of Hot Rod Magazine, as well as Motor Trend in 1948. This 1957 Plymouth, nicknamed “Suddenly”, was a play on Plymouth’s ad for 1957, which was, “Suddenly, it’s 1960!”.
The car, was driven by Wally Parks, and Ray Brock, at the Bonneville Salt Flats; with a speed, of 166.83mph. With another engine running on nitromethane, the top speed of this car was clocked at 183mph, before blowing up. This was the fastest one-way run for a full-bodied sedan known. Eventually, the original car disappeared after the run, but this was one of two replicas built by Jim Travis, who actually worked with Wally Parks. Park’s son, David, plans to re-create his father’s famous run at the California dry lakes, and at the Bonneville Salt Flats, once this replica is up to full racing specs.
A very interesting homebuilt hot rod was in attendance. Parked inside of the Anaheim Building was a Hemi-powered 1953 Bosley GT Mark I built by an Ohio horticulturist named Richard Bosley. In 1952, Bosley started by constructing the frame out of welding pieces of four-inch steel tube together. The front suspension came off of a 1950 Ford. The rear axle was sourced from a 1948 Mercury, and was set up with a suspension of Bosley’s own design. Power came from a Chrysler 331 Hemi, and a Borg-Warner T-10 transmission, the main choice for high performance.
A fiberglass body, with heavy influencing from Ferrari’s Superlegerra coachwork finished things off. A set of four Halibrand kidney-bean wheels and Englebert tires were also added. The car was built under Bosley’s plans to race it at Sebring, and in the famous Mexican road race, the La Carrera Panamericana. Unfortunately, those plans never came true, and Bosley later traded his masterpiece in for a brand new Corvette. Today, the 1953 Bosley GT can be seen on display as part of the collection at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, California, either on the display floor, or on the museum’s vault tour. Unfortunately, no cameras are permitted on the vault tours.
Outside, only a small amount of Mopars could be seen on display. Cars ranged from 1950s, all the way up to 1971. The oldest Mopar parked outside was a 1955 Chrysler Windsor, painted in Porcelain Green, with a Platinum top. Nearby was a Cream 1967 Dodge Charger and a 1962 Plymouth Sport Fury, finished in a red metallic, unlike the original color, which would have been Cherry Red. Near the entrance were two Plymouth Barracudas, a 1970 model painted in Alpine White, and a 1971 model painted in black. Additionally, a Sublime Green 1971 Road Runner was also spotted.
Heading back inside of the OC Promenade building, was a 1957 Plymouth Fury. This particular car was finished in Sand Dune White with gold side trim. Outside of the OC Promenade were two more Mopars, a classic Dodge A-100 Van painted in Mojave Yellow sporting a set of Cragar wheels. Last but not least, was a 1965 Plymouth Valiant convertible, painted in Gold metallic.