First, the wonderful location: Silver Springs State Park in Ocala, Florida, is only a few miles from the world headquarters of event sponsor National Parts Depot. It’s a huge park, full of big, wonderful trees and plant life, and it is built around one of the largest freshwater springs in the country, a system of springs that produces more that 500,000 gallons of crystal clear water every day. So clear that the park features glass-bottom boat rides.
Second, the history: NPD has been throwing this free car soiree for almost a quarter century. It used to be a two-day affair, but the park couldn’t take it for two days, so now it’s a Saturday-only affair, which means that more than 2,000 vehicles start streaming in at 7 a.m. and start streaming out at 4 p.m.
Now, the machinery: The parking situation is a sort of catch-as-catch-can affair, because this ain’t a car show. No groups, no circles, no eras. Just Ford, Shelby, Cobra, Lincoln, Mercury, and DeTomaso vehicles from 1903 on, any old Ford body with a Ford engine in it, car or truck.
Anything can be parked next to anything, which makes for a wonderful arrangement. Although Mustangs were more plentiful than anything else, from ’64-1/2 to today, including Roush and Saleen versions, the anything else was the real treat here.
On a cold, overcast, windy day, the Ford drivers and the Ford fans bundled up to enjoy this amazing festival of sheetmetal, paint and engines and the stories that go with each and every one of the cars and trucks on display.