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BASICALLY BEAUTIFUL 1958 Ford Custom 300


TO P Performance cars !




1971 Dodge Demon&1968 Dodge Dart Road & Track

Pontiac's Perfect Pony Car

Family fun at

Clap-hands Continental LINCOLN LOVELY

Ben Klemenzson



Image: GM Media Archive

Blimey, it’s the November issue already… We’ll soon be in 2018 and a very momentous year that is for Classic American as it marks the title’s 30th year in print. So, if you’re one of those people who I regularly meet at shows who says: “I’ve got every magazine since issue one” then all I can say is that you must have very big shelves and reinforced ones at that! We’ve got some special celebratory things lined up for 2018, but more on that in the new year! Every other year seems to throw up some sort of anniversary and we thought we’d salute Pontiac’s perennial pony car, the Firebird which was 50 this year. While it may not get the exposure that the Mustang or Camaro do, there’s no disputing it’s a great-looking car and carried the performance torch for GM well into the Seventies, Eighties and Nineties when other divisions had fallen by the wayside.

In this month’s News pages we look at the recently announced exemption for cars that are over 40 years old – it’s pretty plain sailing if your car is stock, but not so clear if it’s been modified since 1988. It’s been interesting to witness the reaction to this on social media and in fact we’ve even given a flavour of it in our Letters page. I’d be interested to hear your take on the matter – feel free to email us at email@ or via our Facebook page. And don’t forget there’s plenty of extra show coverage and all sorts of other goodies on Classic American’s website ( where we’ve been able to shoehorn all that extra material we’ve not been able to cram into the magazine!

50 77 43 22 36

Contents November 2017



06 12 14 16 18 34 48 57 62 82 98 102 106 112 114 126

22 28 36 43 50 65

News Letters Across the Pond Muscle Car Files Here to Obscurity Back Issues CA Shop Tech Subscription Offer Reviews Discoveries Scale Autos Events Drive Buy Private Classifieds Service Directory

1968 Pontiac Firebird Pontiac Firebird Story 1969 Lincoln Continental Top 6 Performance cars 1958 Ford Custom Beauty Impala

Events 72 Beaulieu 77 Atomic 93 Goodwood 86 A&M News 88 1971 Dodge Demon & 1968 Dart


93 5

Footman James Car of the Year Grand Finals!

Classic American


Yes, it’s that time again: the Footman James Car of the Year Grand Finals! Taking place on the Classic American stand over the weekend of November 10-12 at the Classic Motor Show, NEC, we’ll be assembling what we consider to be the finest American automobiles in the UK. We’ve been up and down the UK all summer long holding heats of the Car of the Year competition at the UK’s biggest American car shows and now it’s time to pick one overall winner.

Classic American will once again be the centrepiece of the American section at the Classic Motor Show. So make sure you don’t miss it and check out these truly amazing cars. Who will be the winner? All will be revealed on the afternoon of Sunday, November 12! For more information, ticket prices or to book call the ticket hotline on: 0871 230 1088 (outside of UK +44 (0) 1142 249 774) or see: www.

Footman James Car of the Year finalists 2017 F

1. 1963 Ford Falcon Heat: Wheels Day, Rushmoor Arena, Hampshire The winner of our first heat of the Footman James Car of the Year competition was this stunning 1963 Ford Falcon, which belongs to Diegor Presenza from Richmond, Surrey.

2. 1977 Chevrolet Caprice Heat: Footman James Bristol Classic Paul Chamberlain is the proud owner of the second of our Car of the Year Heat winners, a magnificent 1977 Chevrolet Caprice Classic. This stunningly original car truly does appear as if it just rolled out of the factory.

4. 1950 Nash Airflyte Ambassador Heat: Rally of the Giants, Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire The winner of the fourth heat of the Footman James Car of the Year competition is this magnificent 1950 Nash. Belonging to Sven Larsen from Bournemouth, this is one motor guaranteed to draw a crowd.

5. 1973 Lincoln Continental Mark IV Heat: Damn Yankees, North Weald Mike Churchill’s ’73 Lincoln represents probably one the nicest Mark IVs of this era in the UK, in immaculate original condition. It features a unique one-of-one interior/colour combination according to the Marti report it came with.

7. 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air Heat: Atomic, Sywell Aerodrome, Northants Daniel Springall’s 1957 Bel Air is a truly outstanding example of the marque, with its hard-top pillarless styling and silver and black interior. Often regarded as the ultimate Fifties American car, it’s only fitting that this car was chosen at one of the UK’s leading mid-century events on the calendar.

8. 1967 Ford Mustang Heat: Autumn American Classic, Prescott Hill Climb, Gloucs. The final heat of this year’s show took place on the edge of the Cotswolds at the beautiful setting of the Prescott Hill Climb. Ross and Laura Meek came down from Nottingham in this stunning big-block Mustang and wowed the public and Classic American enough to clinch winning the final heat of this year’s competition.

Help choose the winner! 3. 1955 Ford Thunderbird Heat: Stars & Stripes, Cheshire This 1955 Ford Thunderbird belonging to Steve Sullivan from Stockport has been a labour of love ever since he purchased it partly restored as a reassembled project. Three years of hard graft later and this is one stunning T-bird.


6. 1970 Plymouth Roadrunner Heat: Mopar EuroNats, Santa Pod, Northants This year saw David Christmas rightfully collect the Classic American Car of the Year Heat winner with his 1970 Plymouth Roadrunner. A car that has undergone quite a bit of work while in David’s hands.

As in previous years, we’re offering readers the chance to vote for the car they think should win the hallowed title of Footman James 2017 Car of the Year. The votes will only count for a proportion of the voting process, but it means you can have your say about which car you think is a worthy winner. Simply go to and cast your vote online!

Photo: Allan Rhodes


Wow! What a long period this year’s competition has been held over – from April to October, with eight heats! The final heat took place at the American Autumn Classic at the Prescott Hill Climb. Despite the ‘mixed bag’ weather, Laura and Ross Meek drove their 1967 Ford Mustang fastback from Nottingham. This stunning pony car boasts a bigblock S-code 390 motor, four-speed top loader gearbox and Equa-lock diff. The original buyer opted to

delete the rear fold-down seat, but did select power-steering, tinted glass and an AM radio. The car appears to have been ordered new in Nebraska, staying with its original owner through college and into the Eighties, ultimately being taken off the road and stored for 10 years, before being restored and coming to these shores in 2003. Make sure you check out this stunner on the Classic American stand at the Classic Motor show this November!

Wheeler Dealers exclusive premiere at the Classic Motor Show An exclusive screening of the new series of Discovery’s Wheeler Dealers, featuring show stalwart Mike Brewer with his new lead mechanic and co-host Ant Anstead, will be held at the Lancaster Insurance Classic Motor Show, with Discovery, on Saturday, November 11. The global classic car show will play the first episode of the 14th season for 200 guests in an afterhours screening at the NEC ‘season finale’. This will be the first time that audiences in the UK will have the chance to watch the new series with Mike and Ant in action. 7

Classic American


MOT exemption for over 40s

MoT exemption extended to 40-year-old vehicles, but that’s the ‘good’ news…

Does no MoT mean cars like this will be on the road? Unlikely...

In autumn 2016 the Department for Transport ran a public consultation about changing the requirements for the annual roadworthiness inspection (MoT) of Vehicles of Historic Interest (VHI). Now, a year later, the Government has announced its intentions. There were five options suggested and the one that’s been chosen means 40 years and older VHIs will now be exempt from yearly MoT testing – although there will be a VHI certification process introduced to ensure a vehicle has not been substantially changed. Currently all this is set to happen on May 20, 2018. This chosen option was supported by 899 respondents and opposed by 1130 – meaning only a fraction of hundreds of thousands of owners even bothered to voice their opinion and the Government has effectively ignored the majority anyway. According to the Department for Transport there are currently some 197,000 pre-1960 vehicles exempt from MoT testing; the rolling 40-year rule will add a further 293,000. That’s about 1% of the vehicles on the road. Since much of the current MoT applies far more to systems on newer vehicles this makes sense – and brings it into line with the rolling Vehicle Excise Duty exemption. The main argument against the option was that every vehicle on the road should have a regular inspection for roadworthiness. Of course, there’s nothing to stop you taking your vehicle for an inspection whenever you like and we would strongly advise you do so, since few owners will have the facilities at home to do a thorough inspection.


Make a change That’s the easy bit. The potentially scary part is that ‘substantially altered’ phrase. A yearly MoT will still be required ‘if a vehicle has a power to weight ratio of more than 15% in excess of its original design, unless such a modification took place before 1988’. This is in line with an existing EU directive. You will be asked to self-declare if your vehicle is one ‘substantially changed in the technical characteristics of their main components’. Such vehicles will not be exempt from roadworthiness testing. Quite how you would prove your Chevy got pro-streeted with a full race chassis and massively more powerful V8 in 1987 rather than 1989 has not been established. Presumably, the onus is on the owner to provide that proof – tricky if you bought it already built in 2005. Does anyone keep receipts that long? What if you don’t know who built it or when? Let’s suppose next year you want to put a supercharger on your stock 1968 Pontiac GTO. What power figure are we considering? The

supposed bhp when the car was brand new and if so would that be the deliberately falsified data GM issued to keep insurance costs down? Alternatively, is it the bhp the car currently has in 2018 with its tired original engine? Is that going to be tested on a certified rolling road before you make the modifications, then tested again when you’re finished? And who pays for that testing? If you turn your six-cylinder Mustang into a Shelby GT are you modifying it substantially if the car is built from optional performance parts that could have been dealer fitted in period? Suppose instead you decide to take your still road-legal car racing, strip out the interior and replace the wings and bumpers with fibreglass versions – your car might become over 15% lighter – will it now require an MoT? At the time of writing the definition of ‘substantial change’ is still being precisely defined by the Department for Transport. Should we be worried? Well if your hot rod has been on the road for several years and passing MoTs, it’s (presumably) not likely to be suddenly made

illegal. But what effect, if any, this might have on cars being customised right now or in the future remains to be seen. Hopefully, all that it will mean is that old cars modified since 1988 will still need an annual MoT inspection – surely no bad thing and those owners in reality are no worse off than they were a few years ago. But is anyone else feeling wary that once the Government knows precisely how each one of our vehicles has been customised, that information could be used against us in the future? MR

We recommend a basic annual safety check for MoT exempt cars.

The proposals and results of the consultation can be seen in full at

HOT ROD HAYRIDE NEWS It’s all change for the Hot Rod Hayride. Having listened to feedback and after much discussion with The Detonators and their many helpers, the organisers of the Hot Rod Hayride have said they feel it will be impossible to deliver a really first-rate event at Headcorn in the future, due to the limitations that were found with the site. They went on to say: “It was always going to be difficult to move a much-loved event once Bisley was no longer available and we certainly gave it our best shot, but there will be no Hayride in 2018 or for the foreseeable future. The exciting news is that we have been working behind the scenes to bring you an alternative weekend of hot rod racing, an awesome international band line-up and all the usual Hayride shenanigans, on the traditional Hayride dates at the end of July…” The Atomic Festival will be changing dates to welcome Hayriders over the weekend of July 28-29, 2018, with: Drag racing on the concrete runway. Free camping for tents plus luxury bell tents available to hire. Bands, DJs and bars… Five venues and rockin’ till the early hours (2am licence). Pre-’66 showfield for traditional style rods, customs and classics. The Death-do-us-Part Danger Show. Oh dear….

Sunday morning flea market and autojumble. Massive shopping market for all your car parts, clothes and collectables. Great quality food outlets… all your Hayride favourites and more… The soapbox derby … yes, get back in your sheds and start building!

The historic club House, the restored hangar (with large wooden dance floor), the Art Deco venues and the grounds at Sywell Aerodrome are certainly more in keeping with what people loved about the surroundings at Bisley. There’ll even be a Spirit of The Hayride trophy for the most deserving drag racer. Atomic Festival – July 28 and 29, 2018 – Sywell Aerodrome, Northants NN6 0BN Tickets are now available via the telephone hotline on 01435 812508. 9

Classic American


Jack Smith 1923-2017 Father of the Plymouth Road Runner passes away

Woodie is one of the three built.


This interesting-looking 1941 Ford F1 Woodie will be going under the hammer at H&H’s Duxford auction on November 15 at the Imperial War Museum, Duxford. Reputedly supplied new to the US Consulate in Ireland for use by the Consul General’s bodyguard, it’s apparently one of just three such woodies made. It was restored in the Nineties by a specialist here in the UK. Interested? You can find out more details or how to bid at Woodie was supplied new to the US Consulate in Ireland.

John L ‘Jack’ Smith was one of the unsung heroes of Mopar history, mostly because of his modesty. Often known as ‘Mr Road Runner’, the former Studebaker mechanical engineer joined Chrysler in 1957, working in engineering from 1962 to 1964, then product planning until 1975. Smith was well known around the Detroit area for his modified 383cu in-powered Plymouth Belvedere II. As manager of project planning for mid-sized Plymouths he helped create the Plymouth GTX as a rival to the Pontiac GTO and was responsible for the short-lived Mod Top flower-patterned vinyl roof option. The GTX appealed to gentlemen racers but it never sold in great numbers. No one was especially targeting what Chrysler called ‘the drive-in set’ – the young car enthusiasts who couldn’t afford the bigger muscle cars. Smith knew the market was open for a mid-sized muscle car costing under $3000. He also wanted 15-second quarter miles with a 100mph-plus top speed. Smith credits his assistant Gordon Cherry for coming up with the Road Runner identity, but without Smith it never would have reached production. After Cherry got the idea watching Saturday morning cartoons with his children, he explained the concept to Smith and Smith developed the car in less than two months – largely based on the work he’d already done on his own Belvedere. “We tinkered that car together from parts we already had,” said Smith, “loaded the Belvedere with police components – suspension, brakes,

steering, wheels and the 383, then added the louvered hood from the GTX.” The total tooling on Road Runner-unique parts was under $500, including the ‘meep meep’ horn Smith found at a military supplier. He then pointed out to management that if the Road Runner didn’t get their approval it was easy for the kids to put one together themselves. Smith’s real time to shine followed a meeting in a corridor where Plymouth stylist Dick Macadam prodded Bob Anderson (the newly appointed executive vice-president of Chrysler Plymouth) in the chest and stated: “Nobody, but nobody will ever put a cartoon bird on one of my cars.” But Smith had already secured the cartoon bird figure’s rights from Warner Brothers and put through the necessary internal paperwork to get the Road Runner approved. He proposed to Macadam they put the decals in the glovebox for the owner to apply wherever he liked. Undoubtedly fearing where those decals might end up Macadam relented, especially when Smith allowed him to choose the exact design of the bird. They might have been taxicab basic, but Plymouth’s budget factory hot rod was an instant success, selling over 44,000 examples in its first year and over 81,000 in 1969. Soon after Smith got promoted to other product planning areas. He retired in 1980 as chief engineer of vehicle emissions and fuel economy planning but, in retirement, joined the development team of the Chrysler Technology Centre in Michigan. He died on September 15, 2017 aged 94. MR


A gold Cadillac – what’s not to like?!


Some people come up with amazing events to promote new businesses. Take for example Billy Bootleggers bar in Newcastle. Although the venue opened in the spring, they’re giving away a Cadillac (which supposedly belongs to the eponymous Billy!) to promote the bar, while raising funds for two local charities (20% of the ticket sales will be split between Tyneside Mind and If You Care Share) – so it’s all in a good cause, as well as a bit of fun. The Cadillac in question is a gold 1977 Cadillac Eldorado and the lucky winner will be drawn live on Sunday, November 5, with live bands and DJs throughout the evening. Tickets for the raffle cost £20 each

and can be purchased on the website at www. and you can buy as many tickets as you like – good luck!

Classic American

Mail We told you about the Government’s 40-year rolling classic car MoT exemption announcement. Here’s what you had to say on the matter: NICK PRICE: I will probably continue to get mine tested, because in the event of an accident I’m sure it would help regarding any insurance claim. But, I’m happy that for once we’re actually getting something for free if we want. It rarely happens so be glad about it. PAUL CAREY: Good news for those who maintain their car and don’t need to bother with the annual hassle. And there can’t be many 40 yr old vehicles used for anything other than classic motoring pleasure. There will be some daily drivers out there though and we have to hope the owners are careful. JASON PAUL FLATHER: Not great news. There’s enough death traps going around now that are exempt and to put thousands more into the mix is nuts. A modified vehicle will be one with more than a 15% increase in power to weight ratio so that rules out many. All those that are modified are likely to be sent an invite for an IVA check then possibly put on a Q registration! MARK SKETCHLEY: Not a good idea, personally I still have mine checked even though it doesn’t need it already as it’s a ’59. I would be interested in some more information on the modified vehicles part. PATRIK KARLSSON: The same thing will happen in Sweden next year. Something with EU I think... but not all that good, if you should buy a collector car that’s not been tested for a long time. PETER WORBY: My only concern is over cars built in the Seventies that used cheap import metal and are surviving buckets of rust and nothing else. MoTs on old cars should be free of charge rather than non-existent because not everyone will maintain older cars to t a roadworthy condition.


Email us at: or write to: Classic American Magazine, PO Box 99, Horncastle, Lincs LN9 6LZ



AFFORDABLE MOTORS II Dear Classic American, I must say I was very amused at Andrew Churcher’s response to my previous ‘bleating’ email (‘affordable motors’). The point I was trying to make was that so many times we see magazines full of expensive items such as cars, motorcycles etc. where said owners of featured vehicles just write a cheque, sit back and let someone else do all the work. I myself am very fortunate to be able to do something similar (owning several vehicles) but prefer to bag a bargain and do the work myself. I did not say that Classic American should not feature such vehicles; however, I did suggest getting back to the grass roots and showing more affordable cars and the work involved in getting them restored. Otherwise Classic American would just be any other coffee table book, like so many other publications. I was looking back at a previous remark I made to another magazine I take, Back Street Heroes (custom motorcycles) who’d run features on expensive rides. Strangely enough I got a completely different response from the readership, agreeing with my calls for more affordable rides. I do not in

Points might win prizes, but are cheque book restorations a turn-off?

any way begrudge anyone owning expensive vehicles and enjoying them; I do however find the constant consumerism and telephone number prices disturbing. If any of your readers won the lottery they surely could just go out and buy whatever they liked. But when things come easy, they often are not appreciated. I myself was brought up to work hard, save up and only buy what I could actually afford. S G Reader Via email Dear Steve, Thanks for your email, it certainly clarifies your position and is completely reasonable and appropriate. The sentiments you express

are certainly ones we’ve heard before from readers and we do make a concerted effort to feature everyday classics and vehicles that the ‘everyday’ bloke on the street could afford… hence the plethora of Sixties and Seventies four-door sedans! I think it’s really healthy to have an open, honest and frank debate in the magazine, one which doesn’t descend into name-calling or abuse and it’s great to hear readers’ views and opinions. You might be surprised to hear I’ve been told by advertisers that we need to take the magazine ‘more upmarket’ – whatever that means! Thanks again for taking the time to write and hopefully you’ll approve of the content of the magazine in future issues!

Splendour in the grass Dear Classic American, I saw this Buick LeSabre a month ago while we were on holiday in Reedham, Norfolk. It’s been parked down the side of a house for a while judging by the way the wheels are sinking into the ground. I hope it goes back on the road soon… Jonathan Willis Broadstairs Kent So do we! No doubt it’s one of those that will be restored at some unspecified date in the future… i.e. never! Help! Come and rescue me!

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Classic American November 2017  

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