It’s been going on for 29 years now. Every year in April, Ford fans flock to the Knotts Berry Farm theme park in Buena Park, California for one of the biggest Ford-only car shows on the planet. In the shadow of Snoopy, Woodstock, and the rest of the cast of Knotts characters (not to be confused with that pesky mouse a few towns over), Fords of all types fill the park’s parking lot across Beach Blvd. for an orgy of all things Blue Oval.
This year’s show was held on April 27, one week after the huge Mustang 50th Anniversary celebrations in both Las Vegas, Nevada and Charlotte, North Carolina, so the entire country was still caught up in Ford Fever. The Knotts show was no different and while the Mustang 50th party was indeed still in full swing, so were the birthdays of the Galaxie (55 years) and the Mercury brand (75). So mark 2014 down as a year of great celebration for the Blue Oval.
The Knotts Ford show does it right, segregating the different models and years of Ford Motor Company vehicles into their own sections. So if you want to see, say, 1994-2004 Mustangs, they’re all in one area, not mixed in among Mavericks and Rancheros that you might not care about. The show is presented by Ford Motor Company, obviously, and organized primarily by the Ford Car Club Council comprised of 44 member clubs. Those clubs had 214 club member volunteers on the grounds doing the hard work to make the show a rousing success for the nearly 1,776 vehicles on display and the thousands of spectators walking the aisles of cars.
Since Mustang is the most popular Ford of them all, and it’s the anniversary year to boot, it’s not surprising that 881 of those 1,776 cars were Mustangs, with great examples (and some not so great, if you know what we mean) from every generation. And with the triple anniversaries going on, added to the mix were 50 Ford Galaxies and 72 Mercurys, even a few ‘70s Capris and Bobcats. It’s not every show where you can check out a rare Boss 429 Mustang, a primered Pinto, and a 1931 Town Car limousine, but Knotts is one of those shows.
As the presenter of the show, Ford was there in force with a big display highlighting the brand new 2015 Mustang, a bright silver one on a turntable in front of a bank of computers where show-goers could sign up for a chance to win one of their own. This Ford display was probably the most crowded part of the show, for obvious reasons, but it was also the nicest with its grassy area setting. In this same area were several Ford-related celebrities signing autographs and talking to the crowd, including perhaps the most prolific and famous Ford racer of them all, Parnelli Jones. Also on hand was sports car racer Scott Pruett (who won both Sebring and Long Beach this year in a Ford EcoBoost/Riley), Trans Am hero George Follmer, legendary drag racers Butch Leal and Larry Knapp, Formula Drift Champion Justin Pawlak, and The First Lady of Racing, Linda Vaughn. It wasn’t just the racing representatives walking the show however—Bill Ford III was on the grounds checking out examples of his family’s handiwork. Ford Racing had an obvious presence with a big rig and a few race cars, and joining them were displays from Shelby, ROUSH, Saleen, Nitto Tire, and several others.
The show is not just the mainstream Ford vehicles like Mustang, Galaxie, etc. We were especially fond of the big number of Broncos gathered at the north end of the show. From stock to radical rock crawlers, and even a lowered two-wheel-driver, every imaginable Bronco was on site. Well, not that white one with two famous athletes in it that was all over the news 20 years ago, but pretty much the rest of them were!
Also catching our eyes was a small group of vans straight out of the ‘70s, some really nicely done Pintos (several with turbo motors in them), a veritable boatload of Thunderbirds, a bunch of street rods (one with a big-block Chevy. Hey, how did that poser get in?), and even a few Ford-related vehicles like an Anglia and another one that we honestly couldn’t identify. Check out the photo gallery below for the highlights, and pay attention to the photo of people on stage. Longtime Ford marketing and public relations guru John Clinard was presented with the Lee Iacocca Award for his many years of distinguished service in the name of the Blue Oval, and along with Bill III, John brought up on stage all of the race drivers and celebrities in attendance. It’s not often you see a more distinguished group gathered together than what there was at Knotts 2014.
If you like Fords (and since you’re reading this website we assume you do), you need to make it to sunny Southern California in April for Fabulous Fords Forever at Knotts Berry Farm. It’s a great car show that doesn’t require the investment of an entire weekend, and when the kids get cranky you can take them across the street to the amusement park, or to the beach about a half hour away. It’s a win-win for the whole family! We’ll see you there next year.