Tom Wilson
October 1, 2004

Southern California is a desert with Rainbirds. The grass has been irrigated for so long, even the locals think the Hollywood hills are supposed to be lush. In truth, there are only a few months of the year when it might rain, and, of course, the Fabulous Fords Forever at Knott's Berry Farm is perpetually scheduled during the rain window.

Thanks to the promoters' clean living, it has never rained on the Knott's show, which is a good thing. Crying "Rain!" in this crowded region is felonious mischief. Freeways grind to a halt and the TV news pushes the panic button with "Storm Watch 2004!"

This year, the law of averages gave "Knott's"-as the locals say-a close pass. Unsettled weather prevailed the week leading up to the show, and the day before the gathering, free water fell from the skies. But on show day, everything was movie-making perfect, with pleasant temps and a freshly scrubbed blue sky. Still, a few people passed on displaying at the one-day show. A surprising number tow or drive long distances to Knott's-Phoenix and San Francisco are often mentioned-and you couldn't blame them for not taking their show cars out in the soppy weather.

On top of that, the parking crew partially followed their new instructions to give each car one and a half spaces as marked on the pavement, and partially followed the old rule of one space, one car. Between the weather no-shows and-mainly-the parking job, the result was a few noticeable gaps in the show field.

Then there was the Mustang 40th Anniversary in Nashville. Not a draw for local enthusiasts, the Mustang to-do back East had the button-down collars building more frequent flyer miles as they ran between the Volunteer and Golden States. Still, it was a great show.

Back at Knott's, even with maybe 150 no-shows, 1,658 Fords rolled through the gate on Sunday morning, and there were a few on the grounds from the night before-more than enough for a day of aisle surfing. A must-see show for the Ford fan, Knott's offers the full gamut of Blue Oval production. From the horseless carriage crowd through the Model As, the post-war cruisers, the '60s muscle, and into the modern era, Knott's has them all. Furthermore, the show is relaxed, easy to see, and offers the Knott's Berry Farm attraction (among others) for family fun.

So, while last year we wondered about the growing influence of the big-bucks, 18-wheeler crowd, this year was definitely one for the regular guy. And what do you bet, next year it won't rain.