Huw Evans
September 1, 2006
Maaco collision repair and Auto painting displayed this rather dazzling S197 Saleen. The doors not only go upwards, they go outwards too. And you thought you'd seen it all.

It is probably fair to say that if you buy, read and or/subscribe to this magazine then you like Mustangs. It is also quite reasonable to assume, that besides Mustangs you might have at least a smidgeon of interest in other Ford Motor Company vehicles. And as such, an event like the All-Ford Nationals, held this year at the Carlisle, PA Fairgrounds from June 2-4th would be the kind of event that you'd want to go to. Billed as the largest all-Ford car show in the United States, it attracts people from around the country and beyond, many who make the trip to this event a true pilgrimage. This, like quite a few other events, being a first time deal for MM, we decided to take a little different route and instead of flying out there, getting a rental car and all not that shenanigans that many folks equate with magazine types, we decided to fire up our own project car, join a convoy and muck it out with fellow enthusiasts that first weekend in June. So after an oil change, tranny fluid change and brake inspection, the 'Shed was loaded full of stuff and we headed out to meet some fellow Mustanger's for our Carlisle pilgrimage. Despite the onset of rain, the drive down was largely uneventful and everybody who set out - (there were 10 Mustangs in all, - made it to our destination and HQ spot for the weekend, without a hitch.

On Friday, we registered for the show, and yours truly decided to park the project car among some better looking examples of the breed and walk the grounds. Before we got there however, it started raining. "It wouldn't be the Nats without the rain," was a comment we heard more than once. Although we managed to wander a small section of the huge Fairgrounds, mainly among the vendor rows, it didn't take long for the heavens to open and the side alleys to turn into mud baths. One of our gang did a spectacular job in finding a set of very hard to obtain 1985-86 Mustang GT headrests, and another some rocker panel scuff plates for a '73 from CJ Pony Parts. Even at that stage, despite the foul weather, it looked as if, should the sun come out the following day, the 2006 All-Ford Nationals would be quite an event. Scott and Cassie from MRT were there and we had a chance to chat about the weather and other things. "The MRT T6 is now ready to go and on the road," said Scott "and we're having a lot of fun with it, on the occasions we get to drive it." Even sitting under a tarp surrounded by a muddy wet mess, the Cherry looked better than ever, and sounded it too. The rain eventually eased off a little, and we took the chance at heading back to the car, jumping in and attempting to drive the wonderful winding stretch of road from the showgrounds, back to our hotel in nearby Mechanicsburg.

The rain returned with a vengence on the drive back and once at the hotel, it was time to crack open a cold one, order some pizza and shoot the breeze, about life, Mustangs and, well you get the picture. Saturday didn't get off to the greatest start. A whole slew of ponies prepared to leave the hotel, but one of them wouldn't start. Turned out that the torrent rain, had soaked his ignition control box, so after quite a bit of delibration and some help from fellow showgoers (thanks Ron), the box was bypassed and we were on our way to the show. As if almost to symbolize our change of fortune, the rain stopped and the clouds started breaking up, to the point that the sun was well and truly shining by the time we arrived at the fairgrounds. And as a result, there were Ford vehicles of all shapes and sizes, pulling into the grounds in their droves. This year marked the 40th anniversary of the Ford Bronco, so, not surprisingly there was a strong showing of them at the show, all years and variations, including one with tracks. Stacy David, the enthusiastic, former face of Trucks! TV was on hand at the show, as was his stunning Crazy Horse creation. It was perhaps funny, but the zany burnout contest was actually won by a '77 Bronco, that belonged to Bernie Kiser of Windber, PA.

Of course there were plenty of Mustangs and a huge late-model contingent, both stock and modified. The Yellow Mustang Registry was out in force, no doubt making Gary Kohn and the gang happy. Whether it was Saleens, ASC McLarens, SVOs, LX 5.0s, GTs, Cobras or even four-cylinder to V8 conversion street machines or blown V6s with vertical doors, there was a Mustang to suite every taste at the All-Ford Nats. There were plenty of older ponies too - a sizeable number of Mustang IIs, including an example of the infamous Monroe Handler and a few King Cobras, some very nice first generation cars, including a particularly cherry '70 Boss 429 and Mach 1 sports roof, painted in grabber blue and yellow respectively, plus a goregous '68 fastback and sweet '66 289 powered convertible. But that didn't even scratch the surface. There were Bullitts and late-model Mach 1s and we saw history in the making when one enthusiastic owner asked Scott Hoag to sign his Competition Orange car there and then.

Because the All-Ford Nationals covers such a huge area, it takes time to really wander the grounds and truth be told, you'd need the best part of a week to do it. The Merkur club won the trophy for having the single largest number of participants - try 100. I've never seen so many XR4Ti-s in my life, but this was the second time they won it as last year, the 20th since Merkurs first arrived on boats from Germany. Quirky to some they maybe, but these cars were very much the European Mustang of their time.

There was a surprising turnout of other almost forgotten Ford products, including EXP two-seaters, Ford Country Squire Wagons, plenty of Lincolns, including a lot of MK VII LSCs (Mustangs in Tailored suits), Mercurys and just about anything else you can think of with some wheels and a Ford manufactured internal combustion engine.

They like to entertain, those organizers at Carlisle, and for that we had a dyno run by a Shadrach Mustang (see MM August '06 for a full rundown on this car), guest appearances 1 2by Hubert Platt, Al Eckstrand, Hau Tai- Tang and former WCW wrestling champ Bill Goldberg. It was interesting because Al, the drag racing legend himself, drove the Lawman '70 Boss Sports roof machine at exhibitions all over SouthEast Asia during the Vietnam war - a young Hau Tai-Tang got his first glimpse of the car, something which planted the seed for a career path where he hasn't looked back, while Bill Goldberg, now owns the car that was driven by Al and inspired Hau. Neat stuff eh?

There was also a beauty contest held at the main pavilion, and the winner Theresa Payne, of Shenandoah Junction, West Virgina was crowned Miss All-Ford Nationals and went home with her husband, two sons and five hundred bucks. And if you had the stomach for it, the wings eating contest was something to behold. In the end it was Nelson Garnes who managed to munch on more of them than anybody else - he put away 25 of the suckers.

As per tradition every year, the All-Ford Nationals provides a sweepstakes with the winner receiving the giveway car or cash. This year, the vehicle in question was a pristine 1991 Mercury Capri cabrio (see if you can remember what one of those is), but in the end, the winner of this year's sweepstakes, Bill Carberry, chose to drive home with the $5,000 cash prize, and was offi cially quoted as saying, "that should pay my way to this show for the next few years."

When all was said and done, the 2006 All Ford Nationals was a blast. It's a great place to meet fellow enthusiasts, shop for those hard to find parts, or just sit back and relax. Next year's event is planned for June 1-3 2007. Will it rain on the Friday again? Put your bets in now.