Kristian Grimsland
Associate Editor, Muscle Mustangs & Fast Fords
May 16, 2014
Photos By: Marc Chris

Once a year, team MM&FF packs its bags and makes its way to Silver Springs, Florida, for a Mustang vacation.

We spend all year traveling the U.S., going to car shows, NMRA races, and other cool events, so it's hard to relax and really enjoy what's around us. But the first weekend of every January, National Parts Depot hosts its annual Ford & Mustang Roundup at Silver Springs State Park, conveniently located an hour from our Tampa headquarters. This year marked the 20th anniversary for the show, and we couldn't have had a more exciting time right in our own backyard.

National Parts Depot kicked off the New Year with a bang at its 20th annual Silver Springs car show. Over 650 Ford fans invaded the now state-run theme park for an exciting and fun-filled weekend.

Throughout the weekend, over 600 Ford and Mustang fanatics gathered at Silver Springs State Park and fraternized over the seamless rows of America's favorite ponycar and other classic Fords. Everything from Model A's to Shelby GT500s were present, and there were a few rarities to drool over. We even brought out our 25th Anniversary project car, Hypersilver.

What has drawn so many enthusiasts to this show in the past, perhaps, is that the first 1,000 pre-registered vehicles are entered into the car show for free. In previous years, we've seen well over 1,200 cars show up for this event.

National Parts Depot decided to changed things up a bit this year for its 20th Anniversary show. To promote the late-model and classic Ford turnout, all pre-registered '93-and-earlier vehicles were allowed in for free. However, '94-to-present Ford owners had no complaints, as admission into the nature park is only $10, and no other fees were added.

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On Saturday, 671 cars and trucks raided the open fields of the state park, with their owners stretching out on lawn chairs, enjoying the cool weather. A forecast of bad weather scared away some attendees, but not a drop of rain hit the grounds until the day had ended.

We cruised down rows of tricked-out Fox-bodies, sleek SN-95s, cool S-197s, and a boatload of classic Fords. Your author has a soft spot for SN-95s, and there were a ton on display.

Hiding in the back of the show was an imported '96 Cobra from Japan. If you don't know, imported Cobras feature folding side mirrors, indicator fender markers, advisory stickers in Japanese, fender flares, a kilometers-per-hour speedometer, and Euro-style '94-'95 taillights. This was the first one we've seen in person, and it was exciting to see something that was built in the states, imported to Japan, and somehow made its way back to its homeland.

While out and about in the grassy fields, we also snagged up a few feature-worthy Stangs. Craig Mauel's '99 Mustang GT Saleen clone was showing off its good looks, featuring a clean and polished engine bay stuffed with a supercharged Four-Valve, slick Atlantic Blue paint, and a clean custom interior. Check out Craig's ride and others in upcoming MM&FF issues.

There was plenty to do around the state park, including glass-bottom boat rides on the Silver Springs river and an assortment of nifty restaurants.
This ’87 #7 Saleen was a treat to see, as it is still with its original owner, Thomas G. Keup.
This ’95 Bondurant Cobra R belongs to Josh Klugger. It used to be Bob Bondurant’s personal street car.
NPD owner Rick Schmidt and My Classic Car host Dennis Gage were on stage handing out the car show awards.

For enthusiasts looking to upgrade their late-model or classic Ford, National Parts Depot and a slew of vendors were on-site displaying some of the industry's newest and hottest parts. TMI Products was there promoting its latest line of seats and upholstery, and Classic Instruments was showing off its fine line of gauges and electronics.

Many of Saturday's attendees stuck around Sunday and stayed for the afternoon awards ceremony. Here are the winners:

  • In the '87-'93 Mustang category, Scott Schramm and his '93 Cobra took home the win.
  • Jeanne Nemoga won the gold in the '94-'98 category with her '97 Cobra.
  • Bradley Marsh sealed the deal in the '99-'04 category with his '04 Mustang GT.
  • Cynthia Keup and her '07 Mustang won the '05-'09 award.
  • Mark Emerson and his '13 Boss 302 took the '10-to-Present Mustang award.
  • In the '06-to-Present Shelby category, the plaque was awarded to Louis Cooker and his '13 Terlingua Shelby.
  • The Saleen category was won by Rudy and Betsy Beyer and their one-of-one '13 Saleen S351 convertible Mustang.
  • The winner in the Roush category was David Carter and his '08 Roush 427R coupe.
  • Best Mustang Overall was awarded to Tom Gerardi and his '69 Mustang fastback.
  • The Best Ford award went to Bill Henry and his '41 Willys coupe.

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Pony Trails

Every year, NPD kicks off the weekend with a cruise, called Pony Trails, to Cedar Key from its Ocala headquarters. Enthusiasts first roll into NPD's parking lot and check out owners Jim and Rick's 180-plus private car collection and product showroom, followed by a police- escorted cruise over to the tiny fishing town of Cedar Key.

Over 60 Fords took part in this year's cruise and enjoyed the crisp, cool weather down the two-lane rural roads to the Gulf Coast. The locals were out on their front porches, as the herd of Stangs and Fords made a less-than-subtle entrance into the quiet town.

Before we headed home, we checked out the town’s Historical Society Museum. Decades ago, the town prosperously manufactured brushes by farming the native palm trees.

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Team MM&FF enjoyed the local town eateries, with family and friends sampling everything from catch-of-the-day specials, to delicious fried grouper sandwiches. On our way out, we even made a quick stop at the town's Historical Society Museum.

As always, it was an exciting time out with fellow enthusiasts. If you didn't make it this year, be sure to check it out next time. This is something you don't want to miss.