There’s a battle going on in Vegas, but it has nothing to do with a per-per-view UFC bloodbath or high-heeled local working gals angling for the best spot just off the Strip. It’s the showdown between imports and domestics cars, and its all happening within the ring known as the 2007 SEMA Show. More imports filled the booths this year, helped no doubt by Toyota being this year’s showcased automaker. There were even front-drive Scion drag cars, for Pete’s sake. But old-school American-iron lovers need not fret – American muscle was well represented with some meticulous rides…not a one of ‘em with anything less than an earth-shaking V-8.
by Thom Blackett
MyRide Senior Road Test Editor
Number 10: 1965 Ford Mustang Fastback
Displayed by Ron Schoch Racing and Restoration, this Bombay Blue ’65 Mustang Fastback demanded the attention of those walking the lots outside of the Las Vegas Convention Center. Power comes from a 347 c.i. Stroker engine mated to a five-speed manual transmission. Other bits include a Mustang II steering system, 4:10 gears, an independent rear suspension, Shelby front end parts, and HID headlights. If you look closely, you can see that the rear ¼ glass and exterior door handles have been scavenged from a current-generation Mustang.
Number Nine: 1966 Chevrolet Chevelle
This could have easily been a gallery of Mustang and Camaro photos, as both were overwhelming represented at the 2007 SEMA Show. But we wanted to add a little flavor, and that’s why you’ll see at least a few slightly less popular models, such as this 1966 Chevy Chevelle. Owned by Adam and Kate Robinson, this California classis draws power from a 572 Chevy crate engine, cruises on an air ride suspension, and utilizes Baer brakes for stopping power.
Number Eight: 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS
Pictured here is one of our favorite muscle cars of all time, the 1970 Chevy Chevelle SS. Actually, we’re not sure if this particular example started out as an original SS, though we’re positive that there are at least a few modifications. Among them are the modern-style rims, the drag-strip readied chassis, a full roll cage, and badges that refer to something interesting under the hood. Is this quarter-miler really powered by a Duramax diesel? It would no doubt provide plenty of torque for a quick launch.
Number Seven: 1969 Chevrolet Yenko Super Camaro
On display at the OER (Original Equipment Reproduction) booth at the 2007 SEMA Show was this bright orange ’69 Yenko. Created by Classic Automotive Restoration Specialists (CARS) of North Carolina, this car is part of a licensed continuation series. Power comes from a stout 427. If you’re a Yenko fan with a lonely garage bay, this might be worth looking into.
Number Six: 1969 Chevrolet Camaro
Honestly, it was our goal to diversify this list a bit, but there were just too many sweet Camaros to ignore. One of them was this ’69 displayed by Rushforth Wheels, sporting a simple black and simple paint scheme with hood graphics. The powertrain includes an automatic transmission and an LS7 engine that breathes with the help of functional hood scoops. Keep an eye out for the Rushforth Camaro the next time you’re cruising the backroads of Alabama.
Number Five: G-Force Chevy Camaro
This concludes our coverage of SEMA Camaros, but c’mon people, how can you just pass by something that looks like this? It’s from G-Force Design Concepts and features a Quadra Link rear suspension and a GT Sport front end. Drive this Chevy and you’ll not only look cool, but you’ll also likely get to know the wrong end of local law enforcement. That’s because there’s a supercharged LS7 engine under the hood, and one might make this truly one-of-a-kind, a transmission that incorporates paddle shifters.
1969 Pontiac Trans Am Convertible
The 1969 Trans Am convertible was a rare bird, with reportedly only eight built. There was no one around to ask, but something tells us this one is a knock-off, albeit a nice one. Rolling on deep-dish honeycomb wheels and a lowered suspension, the builder or restorer of this car went a little overboard with the interior, slathering bright blue leather and suede fabric on every possible surface and even fitting blue piping onto the steering wheel. A custom center console runs the length of the interior. That’s all easy to dismiss thanks to a five-speed manual tranny attached to a 535 V-8 pushing 800 horses.
Number Three: Mr. Norm’s 1968 Dodge Dart GSS
You can thank Norm Craus for the Dodge Dart displayed by Atech Motorsports. Known as Mr. Norm, Craus started out as a used car dealer in Chicago several decades ago, soon after which he saw a market for high-powered cars with manual transmissions. He found his way into racing and developed a strong reputation, which eventually lead to the development of the 440 Dart GSS.
Number Two: 1970 Dodge Challenger R/T
Other than appearing as though it just rolled off the showroom floor, this time-warp Dodge seems to be yet another beautiful classic car. What made us take notice wasn’t the 426 Hemi under the hood, the four-speed manual transmission, or the specs listing a Dana S60 3.73 rear end. It was the fact that this car came from New England. You know, where the elements and road salt are already making Swiss cheese out of 2007 models. Kudos to Modern Auto Body of Brockton, Mass. for returning a Challenger R/T to its former glory.
Number One: 1972 Ford Gran Torino GT
Does a freakin’ Gran Torino qualify as a muscle car? Probably not, but spotting one is a rear occurrence, especially within the confines of SEMA, and this one definitely deserves some attention. Big bad and blue, power comes from a Super Cobra Jet engine mated to a four-speed manual with a Hurst shifter. Beyond the exquisite body work are a gray leather interior, an Alcantara headliner, and Bonspeed wheels measuring 20 inches on the rear. Be an individual, stand apart – drive a Torino.