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HomeCar CultureMCACN Wows the Muscle Car Faithful

MCACN Wows the Muscle Car Faithful

The 2023 edition did not disappoint

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The best muscle car event out there came and went this past November, and we’re still reeling from the greatness that befell the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center. The Muscle Car and Corvette Nationals (MCACN) is simply the place to be to see the best that the muscle car world has to offer.

We don’t need to rehash what this show is about — check out last year’s coverage to get an idea. Or you could simply view the below pictures and understand why this is a must-see event if you’re into 1960s performance cars.

Visit MCACN.com to learn how to attend for 2024.  

Barn Finds tends to be the display that’s evergreen in popularity. Ryan Brutt, the Automotive Archeologist, always works his magic pulling in the cars from their hiding places.

Hurst made a proposal for 1970, based on the Cutlass Supreme, but production never materialized. However, the prototype was recently found. Like my dog says, “Ruff ruff!”

Big Buicks got their moment in the sun. Most of the slots were filled with Wildcats (some with four-speeds and dual-quad 425s) but there were several Rivieras and LeSabres too.

A handful of 1961-63 Pontiac Tempests graced the floor of the convention center, both stock and modified. This LeMans is a ’63.

This 1966 Oldsmobile Toronado looks pretty, but it’s hiding something in the rear compartment: a 425 V8. You can thank the owners of Garner Customs & Restorations for this twin-engined 4WD creation, and you can thank Gardner Restoration for restoring it. It is owned by Olds collector Joe Spagnoli.

Wally Booth’s 1969 Dodge Hemi Super Bee was unveiled in vintage regalia.

The Nash Nutz folks have had strong displays in the past, and no exception was made for 2023. Several 1967 Rambler Americans with 343 four-speeds were present, an enigmatic example of early AMC performance of which an estimated 115 or so were built (note the SC/Rambler hiding in the background). The 1972 Javelin AMX is powered by a 401 and features an unusual corduroy cloth interior. Interestingly, it came new with a gold “T” stripe, which the owner said will be added.

The marquee display was “Who’s The Boss,” an assortment of Ford products built with the Boss 302, 429, and 351 engines. This 1971 Boss 302 Mustang was a prototype that was lost to posterity as it was reconfigured and sold as a 351-2V Mach I. A savvy eBayer bought it 20 years ago and, with the help of Ford and Marti Auto Works, was able to establish car 1F02H100053 was originally 1F02G100053 (note the low sequence number). Restored by Wisconsin’s Bob Perkins, this is the only 1971 Boss 302 built.

In 1969, Mercury built two Cobra Jet Cougars and had them modified to accept the Boss 429 engines. One of them was given to racer “Fast Eddie” Schartman, the other to “Dyno Don” Nicholson. Here’s Schartman’s Cougar updated in 1970 regalia, which was a typical update for factory-backed vehicles.

The year 2023 marked the reunion for the Class of 1968 and 1973. On the left, we have two Mustangs, one a 428 Cobra Jet GT coupe, while the other is one of the first 50 built. These “135” cars, as they are known, were white fastbacks without the GT package. The yellow 1973 Buick Gran Sport is one of 728 built with the Stage 1 455 and, of those, only 45 were built as Sun Coupes (sunroof). Additionally, only 11 Stage 1s were special-ordered in a non-regular-production color, with four being a non-Riviera color. Note the Nova SS and Javelin in the background.

This 1970 Buick GS 455 convertible was part of the Salute to Our Military Invitational.

The Vintage Certification program is the toughest display because cars must be vetted to qualify for an intensive hours-long judging process. All cars are in original, unrestored condition and compete against a judging sheet, not each other. Here are a 1972 Pontiac GTO with the 455 HO and a 1969 Ford Mustang Mach I with the 428 Cobra Jet.

The Pure Stock Muscle Car Drag Race folks were there, as they are every year, showing their primo muscle that just don’t sit there looking pretty. However, isn’t this rare 1971 Challenger R/T with the orange stripes pretty?

Mustangs have gotten the lion’s share of attention from show organizers and Blue Oval fans alike. Noted Ford expert Marty Burke sought to rectify that with the Better Ideas Ford & Mercury Invitational. Note the 1968 Montego, one of 15,004 two-door hardtops built, of which only 11 were built with the 428 Cobra Jet. The 1969 Cougar XR-7 on the right is one of 33 four-speed hardtops built with the Drag Pack, and it’s the only one of those built with a sunroof.

The Studebaker folks always have their fingers on the pulse of South Bend greatness and, thanks to a robust museum collection, Studebaker invoices have always helped properly organize the brand’s history. This 1963 Lark is actually a Super Lark, a performance package that included the supercharged R2 engine with heavy-duty alternator, heavy-duty cooling, heavy-duty suspension with adjustable shocks, limited-slip rear, front and rear sway bars, traction bars, adjustable shocks, 160-mph speedometer with tachometer, and front disc brakes. This particular vehicle was originally sent to Paxton Products in Santa Monica, where it was prepared to pull duty at Bonneville.

MCACN used to be a Corvette and Chevy show, so it would stand to reason that Vettes show up in good numbers. The Triple Diamond Certification showcases these Corvettes that have achieved top rankings in both NCRS and Bloomington judging, with their appearance at MCACN in the hopes to make it a troika.

The Saleen Invitational brought out Fox-bodied Mustangs as well as a bright yellow S7.

The Ford & Shelby Pinnacle display reflects the cream of the crop for Ford’s pony car, having achieved top judging honors. Most tend to be big-blocks and Bosses, but here’s a very rare 1964½ K-code Mustang convertible. But there are other Mustangs to be found at MCACN, including this unusual 1969 GT coupe with the 428 Cobra Jet engine.

Dodge Chargers are hot, and the 1971-74 is catching up in popularity by those who appreciate its more organic “Fuselage” design. Not only was this 1971 Charger R/T originally built in a special-order color, but it was also one of a few (two Challengers have been documented) to have been painted in Panther Pink, the wildest color that was available in 1970.

From the Chevy Impala invitational, we have here an impeccably restored triple-white 1965 Impala SS next to a 1967 SS 427 convertible with the rare stripe option. On the right, a two-tone 1969 Chevelle SS 396.

Mopar Alley was loaded with Mopars, with one of the more interesting being this 1961 Dodge Dart Seneca with Ram Induction.

A nice assortment of 1969-72 Pontiac Grand Prixs were present for the Poncho faithful, including this 1969 SJ with the 428 HO engine. To the right, we have a pair of 1971 Hemi Plymouths, one a gold GTX, another a Tor Red Road Runner with the rare rubber bumpers.

In April, we told you the story on the long-lost Rapid Transit Caravan ‘Cuda discovery, and if you visited MCACN you would have been able to see it in the flesh and chat with the guy who designed it.

For 2022, the Malaise Era Muscle Invitational was possibly the biggest hit of the show so, for 2023, it made a return with a focus on GM “Colonnade” cars. Cars in the foreground are 1973-74 Hurst/Oldses.

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Diego Rosenberg
Diego Rosenberg
Lead Writer Diego Rosenberg is a native of Wilmington, Delaware and Princeton, New Jersey, giving him plenty of exposure to the charms of Carlisle and Englishtown. Though his first love is Citroen, he fell for muscle cars after being seduced by 1950s finned flyers—in fact, he’s written two books on American muscle. But please don’t think there is a strong American bias because foreign weirdness is never far from his heart. With a penchant for underground music from the 1960-70s, Diego and his family reside in metropolitan Phoenix.

8 COMMENTS

  1. Yes it is the greatest muscle car show, but it has become full of itself. At the 2023 edition I at 66 years of age and suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. Traveled from St louis Mo and Attended as a usual annual event like I have since it’s beginning. I stopped during the show and sat in a chair to rest there was probably 20 to 30 empty chairs around me. I was told ” you are not a VIP move you may not sit here” I moved right out of the door and left.

    Mitch Pollvogt

  2. When I was about 12 years old one of our workers from St, Catherines Ontario had a 63 Pontiac Parisienne 409/425 4 speed, yes, black and it was fast! I rode in it! His name was John Horvath. What are the chances this might be the same car that showed at MCACN?

  3. Mitch, I feel sorry for your situation. Both in health and that VIP thingy.
    It should mean, Very Important Patron, as in Paying Customer.
    My Son and Daughter and I have had Free shows at our property and you, anyone, can bring a vehicle you enjoy driving,
    We bring everything outside, scatter them around. Just like we did 50 years ago, for Free.
    It’s usually in the min to upper 70’s. We do it at random, no schedule.
    I love the stories people have with their family and that vehicle.
    I set up tables under our trailer canopy of 30 by 20, for shade. No snow or real Winters here, Palm Desert, Cal.
    Because of our weather, we have a Cars n Coffee 3 miles away, Every Saturday at 7 am, no matter the weather.
    We have two seasons, Hot and warm.

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