If there was one single word for me to describe the 2016 edition of the American Muscle car show at Maple Grove Raceway, it would simply be hot. As in “why did I bother to shower this morning” or “does anyone have an ice bath I can crawl into” or maybe even “I would gladly pay ten times the price for a cold beer right this very second” HOT. The East Coast is known for its humid summers, but this day was simply on another level. From the moment my wife and I got out of my Mustang at the show at 7:30AM, the prevailing conversation with everyone we ran into had to do with the weather. While that’s not exactly a fun topic of conversation, from my perspective, the temperature affected every facet of the show. The forecast was high 98 degrees with a RealFeel of 110 – the hottest day of the summer ‘round these parts.
We look forward to the American Muscle show every year; it’s a chance for me to see some of my vendor friends I don’t get to see often, check out some of the latest Mustang parts on display, and drag out my camera for a low-pressure chance to shoot what I find visually appealing.
Despite the challenges felt by everyone from the vendors to the show attendees, the prevailing vibe was a good one; the American Muscle folks go out of their way to ensure a great show, from inviting in the hottest parts vendors and sizzling celebrities (see what I did there?) to sign autographs to bringing in some fan-favorite cars to make dyno pulls in search of four digits on the roller. Without further ado, here’s my take on what showed up in front of my camera lens during the time I was there.
These clouds did nothing to temper the sun, but they sure do make a nice backdrop for pretty photography. By mid-morning, cars lined nearly every available area of asphalt, and were way down into the grass at the bottom of the track property. Thousands of Mustangs in one place – that’s what the American Muscle show is all about. From street cars to race cars, you can see something to strike your fancy nearly everywhere you turn.
This was my first opportunity to see an Avalanche Grey Shelby GT350 up close and personal; while I wasn’t a huge fan of the color before this day, I have to say I stood there and looked at this car for longer than I expected. It’s such an understated color, but on the car and in your face it’s a killer.
On the back side of the GT350 sat this S550 treated to a set of fender flares and a minty fresh wrap. It appeared to me that wraps were the newest trend among Mustang owners looking to change things up a bit and set themselves apart from the crowd; I spotted several other cars wearing unique exterior treatments.
All morning long, the line to get into the show grounds was full of Mustangs parading down the asphalt hill. I spotted many American Muscle employees wandering around with cameras and video gear to document their biggest day of the year.
This is dedication – owning a Power Wheels car to match your show car.
The dyno was busy all day long; the American Muscle crew invited in some of the more popular high-horsepower local cars to put on a show for the fans. I was amazed at how many people surrounded the gates to check out this part of the show. Here, Johnny Lightning puts his NMRA Coyote Modified Cobra Jet onto the roller and knocks down four figures. The eventual winner of the dyno competition was Justin Burcham of JPC Racing with his NMRA Street Outlaw car.
Scott Perry’s 2011 California Special Mustang is an award-winning machine we’ve seen before. The daily driver knocks down 674 horsepower when running on pump fuel and 1,021 ponies when E85 is added. The car sports a Rich Groh Racing shortblock with billet connecting rods and forged pistons, a full complement of JPC Racing speed parts including custom intercooler and wastegate, and a Vortech XB-110 supercharger. The car was conceived as a thank-you to our Armed Forces and wrapped accordingly. The detail in the wrap is amazing.
This one isn’t a wrap – it’s plastidip! Local photog Rob Rabon is always good for a new look for the American Muscle show. Between the fender flares, monster wheels, and one-of-a-kind exterior treatment, he’s definitely set himself apart from the crowd.
The vast majority of the asphalt pit area was filled with out-of-state vendors like Shelby American, Mishimoto, MBRP, Kooks, and AEM Electronics. It gave attendees a chance to rub elbows with the manufacturer representatives and ask technical questions face-to-face.
Another big theme of the show was Mustangs on airbags, as seen here on the ACI Dynamix-backed machine outside the Niche Road Wheels booth, wearing a set of the company’s Vicenza wheels.
Just like these two guys, I did a double-take when I walked past Joe Bielawa’s ’82 GT. You see, the ’82 GT solidified my love for Mustangs – it was the first car I ever purchased with my own money, but mine was a rattle-trap and nowhere near as nice as this one. My car also didn’t have a full-on four-valve Modular engine, full interior, and suspension transplanted from a late-model Cobra, either. This car was super-clean and well-executed.
Mustang owners love personalized license plates.
Ron Cody’s Beastly GT has been modified to within an inch of its life. We see Ron regularly at the local shows and Cars & Coffee events wheeling his VMP-supercharged ’12 GT.
This car rides on Air Lift Performance bags, Rohana RC22 wheels, and rocks a rare Saleen rear bumper treatment to go with the ’13-14 tails. His car is one of the most unique late-model Mustangs around the Philly area, and it’s always a treat to stop and chat with him. Not only does he have this sinister whip, he’s also got a convertible ’93 GT that was at the show.
Even Mustang guys have a sense of humor. Best sticker of the whole show.
I don’t own a camera lens that could capture every car in one shot; this is just one corner of the show car area.
Not only were there thousands of late-model Mustangs, there were also a large number of older cars on the property. These are some of the nicer examples.
It’s always a treat to see a real Shelby Super Snake; Frank Zeberlein’s ’14 has been treated to a monstrous list of upgrades, which allow it to put down 964 horses to the tire. The built engine has a fully-forged rotating assembly, custom cams, and ported and polished cylinder heads. The supercharger has also been ported and polished, while Adam Browne at Revolution Automotive is responsible for the custom tune. The entire driveline has been beefed up, and he’s treated the exterior to a host of modifications as well.
The American Muscle staff was hard at work all day judging all of the cars. This guy walked the entire line and took notes on nearly every car.
There were several race cars entered in the show also. Jason Kahles’ Hooligan Hot Rod is a former Muscle Mustangs & Fast Fords project car, and sports a 347-cube World Products Man O’War block, Truck Flow cylinder heads, HP Performance turbo kit, a full cage, and all of the other items you’d expect on a car of this caliber – including a ‘chute.
An interesting trend we’re seeing on high-horse street Mustangs lately is a return to the use of the old-school Vortech Igloo for intercooling purposes. Mike Corrin’s turbocharged ’92 Fox was sporting one in the engine bay – along with a sick pie-cut downpipe.
A lowered Race Red Mustang on a sweet set of silver Niche Verona wheels. What more needs to be said?
Remember the celebrities we mentioned? Vaughn Gittin, Jr. was in the Magnaflow booth in the morning signing autographs, shaking hands, and kissing babies. Well, I didn’t actually see him kissing babies, but there were a few in the line with their parents, so I’m taking some creative liberties here. Gittin’s display also had the awesome RTR-X machine as well as the current-version RTR on display.
By 2PM or so, we had had enough, and it was time to tap out, pack up, and head out for the day. After numerous bottles of water, wet washcloths on the back of the neck, and other heat-fighting measures, it was time to get out of the sun and into the ice-cold A/C at home. Our reward at the end of the day was Chinese take-out and couch time. Even with the miserable weather, we still had a great time hanging out with friends, seeing some of the amazing cars on display, and taking in the sights. We’ll be there next year, no matter what.