But since everything at the 46th annual Iola Old Car Show in Iola, Wisconsin is super-sized — more than 2,500 show cars, 4,200 swap spaces and 1,000 car corral spaces — it was too difficult to narrow the field down to just six cars.
No problem! I’ll just pad my imaginary wallet a bit more and extend my fantasy to select the 10 cars I would like to take home from the Midwest’s largest swap meet and car show. You can check them all out in the video above.
First, some criteria: I like quirky models in unusual colors. I like honest survivors over incorrectly restored or modified cars and almost everything I would want — with a few exceptions — must have a manual transmission.
The first car is an early series Excalibur SSK Roadster. This is not a kit car, but rather a factory built “replicar” credited for starting the retro rage in the early 1970s. Initially using a Studebaker chassis and V8 engine, later production cars like this used a small block Chevy powerplant. The owner of this car claimed that Harley-Davidson stylist Willie G. Davidson painted the car in the semi-matte grey paint that would later appear on Harley’s new Softail.
Canadian readers will recognize the Beaumont, which is essentially a Chevrolet that was sold as a Pontiac to our neighbors to the north. This one ticked all the right boxes, with a 396cid four-barrel engine, 4-speed manual transmission and all the great features from the Chevelle SS along with custom Pontiac touches that make it a Beaumont. Only 451 of these cars were produced.
Who can resist a Grabber Orange 1969 Shelby GT350H? Fans of the marque will know that the “H” signifies its use as a Hertz Rent-A-Racer car (as would the automatic transmission), but this car has also had a famous previous owner: shock-rock king Alice Cooper. Cooper’s signature appears throughout the car and its previous sale at the Barrett-Jackson auction in 2003 caused quite a stir.
The 1972 Ford Gran Torino Sport is a guilty pleasure, because my dad owned a four-door Torino in exactly the same color. Always wishing it was the two-door Sport model, I was bowled over when I saw this original paint version in just the way I had always imagined the old man’s car could be.
Most of the Hurst/General Motors collaboration famously took place over at the Oldsmobile division, but Pontiac got on board with a special Hurst Grand Prix available from 1970-1972. Later models can be identified by the gold livery on the trunklid, like the 1971 model here. A rare luxury muscle car with great lines.
A queen of the jet-age, the 1958 Pontiac Bonneville had long, low lines and a stylish use of coves, fins and chrome. It looked so lovely in two-tone green that I immediately added it to my imaginary stable of cars.
The 1969 Ford Mustang Mach I is simply one of the best-looking muscle car designs ever produced. Everything on the car implies speed and the ill-handling manners and indifferent build-quality of the cars when new have all been remedied through the aftermarket, leaving nice, attractive cars like this. Looking great in red and sporting a 390cid V8 with a four-speed transmission, I would drive this car every day of the week.
Having owned a number of GTOs, I’ve always had it in the back of my mind that someday I’d own a Judge. In Carousel Red with a Ram Air 400 V8, four-speed transmission, woodgrain steering wheel, hood tach and Rallye II wheels (minus the trim rings on the Judge package, of course) this is the quintessential ’60s-’70s muscle car, and an easy choice for me to make.
Using the same concept as the Judge, Oldsmobile created the H/O (Hurst-Olds) 455 in collaboration with Hurst Shifters. The 1969 model introduced the Firefrost Gold/White paint scheme that would identify the special edition 4-4-2 for years to come. Reportedly, only 913 cars would be made in 1969, making this Olds variant much rarer and quirkier than the Pontiac GTO Judge.
Finally, the Formula Firebird may have been the second-tier F-body performance Pontiac in 1971, but the sculpted twin-snorkel hood and subdued styling have aged very well next to its more boisterous brother, the Trans Am. This Navajo Orange example is well-equipped with a 455cid and a four-speed transmission and would fit in just fine with my imaginary 10 takeaways from the Iola Car Show.