Tom Wilson
September 20, 2012

When Billy Moose finally quit working in NASCAR, it was good to get off the road and find some normalcy in life. Even so, it left a void that wasn't easy to fill. Moose had always had a passion for cars--and working in racing was a good fix for that. Yet, finding another creative outlet was the order of the day if he was going to find happiness in semi-retirement.

Fabulous Fords Forever--the foremost Ford show west of the Mississippi--likes to celebrate Ford anniversaries; this year it was the 80th anniversary of the '32 Ford, the 50th year of the Cobra and 45th of the Cougar, and there were plentiful examples of each present. But we also couldn't help noticing the strong showing of Fox Mustangs in the Knott's Berry Farm parking lots. Certainly it was nothing organized and may well prove a one-off fluke, but whatever the reason, Fox Mustangs were in their glory.

Almost as noticeable were the relative paucity of SN-95/New Edge Mustangs. It's not as if there weren't any there, but the squads of Mach 1s, the Legend Lime Registry, and many of those daily drivers that make up the bulk of the Fabulous Fords show field seemed to take the year off. That said, the organizers reported an increased car count over last year, with a reported 1,800-plus cars registered and a guessed-at 35,000 spectators. That's a big show to put on every year, especially as well as Fab Fords does it.

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With approximately 900 Mustangs on hand, there was no shortage of ponies in the corral. And, again, it is the later models that continue to gain traction at the show. Maybe it's because the newer owners are more enthusiastic about showing, but if nothing else, the “newer” cars have simply been available longer than any other group at this point. After all, the classic '60s Mustangs were built for just five years before bloating into the now fairly neglected '71-'73 era; the five-year run of Mustang IIs has never made a big showing; then the Foxes consume the long 14-year passage from '79 to '93.

At this point, the SN-95 and New Edge cars are transitional, spanning the relatively long nine-year gap from '94 to '04, while the S197 and later 'Stangs have already been with us a little over eight model years. If you see the SN-95s and S197s as the later-model Mustangs, you're talking a 17-year run that is sure to dominate any gathering of the herd. That, and they are still making more of them, thank goodness.

While not standard fare in this magazine, we should also tip our crash hat to the 50-year run (yikes!) of the Cobra. Yep, it was your granddad's hot rod, but this writer was lucky enough to spend 1,000 miles behind the wheel of an original 427 Cobra, and rest assured, they are as hairy-chested as they come. And, because the Cobra is a Southern California car, assembled a bare 25 miles away at LAX airport, sidepipe rumbling is a given any year at Knott's, but especially so this year. That's because the day before Knott's the NHRA Museum put on a 50th Anniversary of the Cobra celebration not 25 miles away in Pomona, so there was a larger and more exotic gathering of snakes than normal at Knott's this year.

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Show regulars saw no major changes to the show, which is just fine with us. The layout followed the now-standard format of Mustangs in one lot, all other Fords in the other large lot, and the SVT Mustang Cobras in the garden surrounding the Independence Hall attraction. Show day was mainly overcast but dry. Still, there was enough sun to burn our bald spot, the crowd was thick, and with rumors of Fab Fords possibly migrating to the Pomona Fairplex, we were enjoying what we believe to be the superior venue at Knott's.

Perhaps the best news came to us just after the show, when we confirmed Fabulous Fords Forever will definitely be at Knott's next year--the car council has already voted--so we'll see you there April 2013.

Horse Sense: We caught a few words with Steve Saleen, fresh off his announcement that he had regained the use of the Saleen name after a protracted legal fight. Steve noted he is keeping both SMS and Saleen names active, and that both will likely appear on his cars. We thought he might reserve the Saleen name for his Ford offerings and SMS for all others, but he says no, both SMS and Saleen could appear on the same car.

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