Jim Smart
September 11, 2006
Photos By: Ron Bramlett

Step By Step

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One year ago, we flew in to the First Annual Restomods In Reno, hosted by Mustangs Plus. It was quite a wild ride into RNO-coming in over the mountains surrounding Lake Tahoe on a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 jet, lots of bumps, zero gravity, with plenty of the unexpected, and profound, apologies from the flight crew upon landing. Once on the ground, heavy rain and thunder caused lots of people to run for cover. Those storms eventually gave way to bright sunshine and a nice first-time show-with a greater than expected turnout.

This year, we decided to drive to Restomods In Reno, heading up California's Route 395, trekking along the state's interior on the backside of the Sierras, through places like Bishop, Mammoth Lakes, Bridgeport, and Carson City. It was 400 miles of striking mountain and desert country leading to Lake Tahoe and Reno.

When we arrived at the Reno Hilton, the Second Annual Restomods In Reno event would yield some unexpected experiences of its own, including outstanding examples of human creativity and an abrupt about-face in the weather. In more than 20 years of car-show coverage, it was the first time we'd ever seen snowfall on Memorial Day weekend-anywhere. Saturday morning, the mountains around Reno vanished in what looked like fog. Then, snowflakes began to fall from the gray sky. Show participants never missed a beat. The event went on, business as usual; with some of the nicest restomods and stockers we have ever seen.

Turnout was virtually a mirror image of the previous year, with most of the same cars and people returning. Lonney Weber, a new face, arrived with his '67 Mustang fastback street rod, an outstanding example of craftsmanship, coupled with tasteful execution. Mark Baxter took a more traditional hot-rodder approach, also with a '67 fastback sporting carbureted big-block power and a slight rake. The Bramlett family, of course, turned out in a variety of nice Mustang restomods you can expect to see in Mustang & Fords in the future. Several generations of Bramletts have demonstrated with great clarity what you can do with a budget Mustang hardtop. Ironically, the Ronster, which is the Mustangs Plus flagship, was not in attendance this year.

Restomods In Reno isn't necessarily about cars, but about people with a common mindset-a love for automobiles. Walking the show is about shaking hands and saying hello, sharing ideas (copping the better ones), and seeing what we can learn about personalization. Some ideas involve off-the-shelf bolt-ons you can achieve with ease. Others take a lot of skill and imagination. Think of Restomods In Reno as a fashion show for automobiles.

Friday night is brag night, with war stories and inflated chests. Saturday, of course, is about showing and visiting. Sunday morning, like clockwork, everyone saddles up for a cruise to Lake Tahoe, spinning cam lobes, cracking throttles, and having a terrific time. Normally-trailered cars hit the road with the rest for an exercise in what these cars are really about-driving. We will be bringing you many of them in the months ahead.

With each passing Memorial Day weekend, we expect Restomods in Reno to become traditional (and larger as word gets around), for a tight nucleus of Mustang buffs who have become great friends. Traditional because there's no concours judging, no pressure-just people who love restomods and one another's company. Expect this one only to get better.