Tom Wilson
October 1, 2008
This is the modern face of Knott's. Just as Knott's Berry Farm has added giant thrills while retaining its stagecoach and steam locomotive, Fabulous Fords Forever accommodates the newest Fords along with everything else all the way back to Model T's.

Horse Sense: Long ago a working farm, Knott's Berry Farm is now a western-themed amusement park. A going concern, Knott's features a herd of sky-sweeping roller coasters and other thrills. It's a fun family destination while Dad plays with Fords in the parking lot.

Like dew settling from the cool morning air, an invisible haze of quick detailer hangs-disembodied but smelling tropical and warmly familiar at the same time. A V-8 snarls distantly somewhere outside the greenery walls. All around, the lines of cars are still, but a near-silent flurry of flicking, rubbing microfiber towels catches the eye. Backs bent, heads bobbing, and arms working, the old T-shirts get the move from proud owners. The clubs, you realize, have arrived at Knott's.

And arrive they did for the 23rd Annual Fabulous Fords Forever car show. Like squadrons marshalling for a parade, the Mustang clubs and individual owners rumbled into the twin Knott's Berry Farm parking lots en masse last April. In a show that's limited in space, Mustangs, especially the newest variety, have muscled to near total dominance.

Counting the Shelbys and Saleens, Mustangs old and new totaled 1,018. That would make an impressive car show by itself, but let's not forget the 859 non-Mustang Fords. Again, that alone would make a fine show; put the two together and you have the Southern California Ford enthusiast's rite of spring that is Knott's.

Why there were so many Mustangs is easy to decipher. As Sandy Badgett of Ford Public Affairs put it: "Ford is still making Mustangs." Blessedly true, and the newest Mustang is the best ever, with people ready to show theirs off. Of the 1,000-plus Mustangs at Knott's, 249 of them-more than a quarter-were '05-or-newer cars. We can't break down how many SN-95 or newer Mustangs were there from the official tally, but a safe guess is well over 300. Counting from 1979, there were 631 late-model Mustangs on hand. Considering the numbers of classic, early Mustangs restored and organized into long-standing clubs, having the new Fox-and-later Mustangs outnumber the classic '65-'70 models two to one shows the energy surrounding the newest ponycar.

Mustangs set the tone at Knott's, and among the Mustangs, new was the word-which is so California. Of the new Mustangs, the hobby is as diverse as ever. Daily drivers prevailed, but open-track, drag-race, big-stereo, and show cars were plentiful. Specialty Mustangs were also a staple. No fewer than 64 '07-'08 Shelbys were on hand, backed by 50 Saleens and plenty of Roushs. We didn't see a Steeda, but one or two normally show, and they could've been hiding in there somewhere.

We'll be lurking around the Knott's show in 2009; if you can make it, we strongly recommend it. You'll want to see those other neat Fords before the Mustangs take all the parking spaces.