Rays of sunshine poked through what was mostly an unusually gloomy weekend in Del Mar, CA (April 1-3) for the 21st Meguiar’s Del Mar Nationals – the fourth event in the Goodguys Rod & Custom Association lineup for the year. The halls of the Del Mar Fairgrounds were filled with pristine examples of classic muscle restored to its former glory (or better) as well as some impressive customs of all shapes and sizes. The old adage is true – there was really something for everyone.
I’m not really into mullets and their automotive equivalents, but it was hard not to admire Michael M. Miller’s “hybrid” 1975 Ford Ranchero. The wood-paneled pickup was as clean as it gets, but with a 640 cubic-inch all-aluminum Hemi tickled with 250hp of nitrous. The Moper-derived 920hp V8 uses a GM-based 4L80E transmission and ’81 Camaro independent front suspension. The rear is a custom IRS setup from Kugel Components. The engine was cast and machined at C&C Motorsports in Virginia, but the rest of the build was kept local. Rays Fabrication & Development did most of the heavy lifting on the build, aside from the PPG two-stage paint from M&J Restorations.
For those who like restomods and Pro Touring, Jesse Lindberg’s ’69 Camaro (aka “Brut 69”) was perhaps the obvious choice. A 382ci LS with LS6 heads and a ProCharger F-1A supercharger is the centerpiece of the slick matte engine bay. While custom in every way, the use of color was an exercise in restraint from the matte gray stripes and aero, plaid seat accents, and matte Billet Specialties wheels. Don’t let its pristine appearance fool you, the Brut has been known to eat up some cones with its Roadster Shop chassis, Wilwood brakes, and Tremec T-56 Magnum.
Moving outdoors to the fairgrounds, I saw many of my favorite builds on the premises starting with Wes and Viv Rydell’s 1940 Oldsmobile (aka “Agnes”). Rad Rides by Troy is responsible for this exquisite piece of mechanical art, which is in its second iteration with an LT4 and 8L90 powertrain. Despite the even newer tech, it is still very well blended into the overall aesthetic of the Olds and does not feel or seem the least bit out of place.
Along the Goodguys midway we also spotted a couple unbelievable Pro Touring Chevys. In Wilwood’s display we drooled over “Olive,” a 1973 split-bumper Camaro with LS power, Forgeline wheels, Speedtech suspension, and (of course) Wilwood brakes that was competing in the Wildwood Brake Bracket Challenge as of the event (voting ends Tuesday, April 15th at 9am). Olive is owned by Laura Wright from Huntington Beach, CA.
TMI had several impressive rides including Ken Johnson’s ’71 Nova (aka Boosted Nova). The Magnason supercharger and LS3 give its signature, but the mixture of colors – including matte gold, gloss black and silver – are what help make this car truly special. The fit and finish is tremendous throughout, including in the interior where TMI went to work – working around the roll cage – and finishing out with the new Chicane II seats (check out those carbon fiber inserts), matching door panels and center console.
If you like Pro Touring cars and trucks, though, the Goodguys autocross (sponsored by CPP and Optima) was the place to be. Not only could you see them in action on a very tight course (there were sadly a few wrecks), but you could also see some of the coolest west coasters in the pits. From Frankie Trutanic’s racy ’86 Regal with a Whipple supercharged, dry sump LS engine to Greg and Jane Thurmond’s pair of ’65 Corvettes. We even ran into our buddy Matt Alcala from Best of Show Coachworks (responsible for the body work on Project Payback), who was piloting his ’65 Mustang. Matt had one of the faster times on the weekend, but it was Wes Drelleshak with the time no one could beat in a ’65 Daytona. He won the Speedtech Pro-X class as well as overall. Eric Sheely won Summit Racing Pro class in the ’72 Corvette, with the third fastest time overall. Bill Graves Sr. won the Forgeline Street Machine class in his ’66 Corvette, and Gearstar Sports Car class was won by Scott Fraser in the ’89 Corvette.
A few other notable competitors included Don Swadley’s ’67 Cobra with a Tesla powertrain that quietly shocked the crowd with some of the fastest times on the day. On the other end of the spectrum was David Carroll’s ’74 K5 Blazer with a boosted LT engine, No Limit chassis, and Strange floater rearend – deftly maneuvering its large frame through the tight course, with quite a bit of power on tap. Derek Brown’s Coyote-powered ’67 F100 was also quite impressive in the truck class. But there was something quite unique and special about Keenan Smith’s ’63 Ranchero, which also competed in the truck class using an Ecoboost powerplant. The exhaust note, patina, battle scars, and other signs of character (plus the platform) really set it apart in the field of 70-plus corner carvers at Goodguys Del Mar.
If you have the opportunity to check out a Goodguys show this year, I highly recommend it! As I said before, there truly was something for everyone. And in my case, the autocross is what really scratched the itch – especially with master MC Jeff Thisted on the mic. We hope to hit a few more this year including the second Del Mar show September 30th to October 2nd. Who knows, maybe by some miracle Project Payback will make a few laps.