There aren’t many things that will make me wake up earlier on a weekend than a weekday. The promise of a good car show is one of the few that will, so my alarm went off at 5:45 AM Saturday and I rolled out of bed. I woke up my ’65 GTO and headed south to meet my friend Chris and hit the road for the roughly two hour drive down to the city shared by Tennessee and Alabama. We stopped near Franklin, TN to meet up with another hot rodder, Don, in his 1972 Nova. I held the convoy back a little bit thanks to only having a two-speed transmission versus their 700R4s, but we still made it to Ardmore on schedule.
The city park was already filling with classic cars at 9:00 and the show wasn’t scheduled to start until 10:00. All the shaded spots were taken, and we sat up Chris’ tent for a bit of relief from the hot August sun. We registered, then headed to the swap meet to do a bit of shopping. Nothing caught our eyes, so we started wandering through the cars that were spread out over pretty much the entire park by this point. I love seeing cars that aren’t your typical car show entrees, and a 1962 Oldsmobile Starfire was one of the first hunks of American iron to catch my attention. It might have been the second Starfire I have seen my whole life, and was in really nice shape. The taillights were strange in all the right ways and the two-tone red and white paint with full-length chrome body molding perfectly bridged the gap in jet age and muscle car era styling.
As a Pontiac aficionado, I was pleased with both the variety and quality of Ponchos on display. A 1955 Safari two-door wagon stood out from the crowd, as did several first and second-gen Firebirds and a selection of GTOs. I did lose a bit of love for the 2004-06 GTOs when Chris referred to one as “a V8 Cavalier.” Oh wait! I almost forgot the 421-powered Catalina convertible. For readers not enamored with a brand that has been out of production for nearly ten years (insert sad face), the show featured some other standouts as well. One yellow roadster blew by us on the interstate and grabbed a spot in the shade to let its blown and injected small block cool off. Not far away from it were a couple vintage style race cars: a Henry J drag car and a Model A round-tracker.
There was no shortage of pickups either. Chevy trucks from the fifties until now dotted the landscape – a phenomenon that can be witnessed at the majority of car shows these days. A few sweet square bodies were scattered across the park, but the star Chevy truck in my opinion was a 1957 Cameo pickup outfitted as a work truck. Ironic considering the difficulty Chevrolet had in selling the original fleetside due to its “luxury” price premium. The show hosted a surprising number of classic Dodge trucks, too. There was an old crew cab car hauler can only be described as period perfect, complete with a ’68 Dart drag car sitting on top. If that isn’t your speed, someone had painted a slightly ratty Dodge Sweptline truck in a Richard Petty scheme. Still not your Mopar of choice? The show featured a pretty clean 4×4 Ramcharger, too. Heck, there was even a Studebaker Champ and a GMC Syclone.
After a few hours in the heat, it was awards time. The Ardmore Car Show is a fan voted show, so you can pick your favorites in your class if you so desire. No one in our group placed, but they had several high dollar giveaways that were well worth sticking around for. The show had a 50/50 drawing that ended up paying out over $4,000, cash prizes of $500, $1,000, and $1,500, a Snap-On Toolbox, and a 1966 Ford Mustang! Once again, our group didn’t take home any of these things, but it was well worth the $20 entry and 250 mile round trip to spend a day in the southern summer heat. I will be going back to Ardmore in the future. See a full photo album on my Facebook page.