5.0 Mustang & Super Fords
20th Anniversary Fabulous Fords Forever: Knotts About Fords
SoCal's premier Ford event celebrates its 20th anniversary in fine style
OK, we'll admit it. The Fabulous Fords Forever car show at Knott'sBerry Farm just celebrated its 20th anniversary, and I've only beencovering it for 18 years. That's not to say I've been to everyone--years ago, the date typically conflicted with the Indy car race atnearby Long Beach, and I'd go there to document Scott Pruett, DorseySchroeder, or Tommy Kendall knocking them dead, or maybe just RobbyGordon knocking into them in the Trans-Am series. But it's safe to sayI've been to Knott's 15 times, so it's starting to feel like home.
Home is supposed to be a comfy place, and Knott's always is. My favoritepart is the variety. The car club council, and Ford, that put the showtogether, ensure the widest possible spectrum of Fords are at Knott's,so there is always something interesting to look at. Even if you glancedat the ancient non-Mustang Fords years ago, the breadth of Ford'sinvolvement means you could spend a lifetime learning the stories behindall those vehicles and still hardly know it all.
And the show itself has a personality. At the dawn of the modern era,the Total Performance Years were still mainstream by default of nothingnew and exciting, and those knuckle-dragging Bosses and Shelbys wererevered as the greatest ever into the late '80s. Those cars are stillhonored, but today's Mustangs are so quick that while the old iron ratesa respectful glance as it rumbles by, it's not really considered hotstuff by the young turks. Today, a Mach 1 is a 2-year-old car, not a30-year reunion attendee.
Naturally, we spend most of our Knott's time in the late-model Mustangsection, where the trends evolve about every two years. When it was aFox world, hot performance was the rage. "Have blower, will attend" wasthe mantra. When the SN-95 and especially the New Edge cars showed up,the interest turned to show. Big stereos and more purple nitrous bottlesthan a Cousteau expedition were what it took to draw a crowd. And then,the retro Bullitts and Machs arrived, and now the '05. Theirrear-vision styling seems to have drawn a performance resurgence, forthis year, we pleasantly noted more hot, clean Fox cars than we've seenin a while. Of course, the tuners are all agog with 20-inch Warlockwheels on the '05s, and that sexy street chic thing will filter down tothe private late-model owners eventually, but for now the newest
Mustangs belonging to real people at Knott's are stone-stock and hoodsdown at the show. That'll change next year.
Horse Sense: Knott's Berry Farm is now known as an amusement park,complete with humongous roller coasters, water rides, and such. Itstarted ages ago as a working farm specializing in jams, hence the"Berry" in the title.
Themes are selected each year for Knott's, not that it really matters. This year the Thunderbird was the featured car, and there were enoughpastel portholes on hand to fill a good-sized marina. T-Birds of everytype were well represented, actually, including a white example claimingto be the one in which Suzanne Somers glided noiselessly throughAmerican Graffiti. Like the other past champions and featuredindividuals, it was displayed on the special grassy area (green grass isa highly valued commodity in the parched Southwest, and to drive on itis heady stuff for a SoCal native).
Making a repeat this year was the Snake Walk, a meandering path aroundKnott's reproduction Independence Hall. A well-groomed garden, completewith willowy trees, pond, and patrolling ducks, this is where all theSVT Cobras coiled. Likewise, the huge herd of Broncos were way out inthe north forty, some even in the dirt where the massive Knott's parkinglots fade before blending into the surrounding streets.
Some of the expansiveness this year was due to a new parking schemeinitiated with mixed results last year, but brought to fruition thisyear. Instead of following the usual painted stripes in the parking lot,the cars were spaced out one and a half stalls per car. This was a majorimprovement, as it allows seeing much more of the side of each car. Andwith well over 1,800 Fords on hand, there was no danger of thingslooking sparse.
As always, the weather was perfect (how this happens in April isanyone's guess, but we're not complaining), and everyone seemed relaxedand enjoying life. It made for a great start to the show season, and,yes, I'll visit home again next year. Hope to see you there.