Man, it was hot out there. Smoke from wild fires nearby didn't help either. Despite these adversities, Mustang enthusiasts were not deterred as they wiped the dust and soot off their cars and got down to the business of having fun at the Mustang Club of America's Western United States Nationals. You could see why enthusiasts might be easily deterred, especially those headed into Los Angeles along the Foothill Freeway. The heavy smoke and the smell of crispy, smoky California chaparral, which had not burned in decades, was intimidating for enthusiasts who poured in from outside the Los Angeles area.
The Mustang Club of America national show in Van Nuys, California, can easily be seen as a glimpse of things to come because more and more major MCA shows are being held out West these days. Last year, there was Park City, Utah, where the MCA held its first western Grand National in the ski country just east of Salt Lake City. Next year, Seattle will play host for yet another west coast MCA national show in suburban Bellevue. For this year's August 27-30 Western United States Nationals, the hosting Mustang Owners Club of California decided to make its MCA national show a gala event in the shadow of sleek multi-million dollar business jets and a beautifully restored P-51 Mustang provided by Clay Lacy Aviation.
One cool thing about this show was its location at the Airtel Plaza Hotel, which borders right on the Van Nuys Airport ramp, the busiest general aviation airport in the country. There were light planes and business jets coming and going at all hours, with the occasional hot-shot stick jockey reaching for the heavens, not to mention the roar of huge super-scooper helicopters flying in to refuel and head back to the flames.
The greatest challenge wasn't so much the heat or smoke, but getting Bob Fria's 5F07U100002 Mustang hardtop into Airtel's lobby for a special display underneath a huge Pan Am Boeing 747 scale replica once used in a movie. The hotel's front doors had to be removed to get Bob's historic hardtop into the lobby. It was probably less trouble getting that big 747 replica in there to begin with. The efforts to move Bob's hardtop into the lobby were well worth the trouble because it included a terrific presentation about his unusual Mustang-one of approximately 150-180 pre-production units produced at Dearborn Assembly before mass production start-up on March 9, 1964. Bob continues to beat the bushes for new information about these early cars.
Although the show's turnout was less than anticipated at 168 cars, this can easily be blamed on a floundering economy, extremely hot weather, and nearby wild fires that kept a lot of people home. On the up side, 29 Mustang clubs from all over the country and Canada participated, making this MCA National Show a truly international event. Enthusiasts showed up from as far away as South Carolina and Canada. What's more, some 77 MCA Golds were awarded along with 21 Silvers/Second Place, and 13 bronzes/Third Place trophies for a total of 111 awards.
Dave Kunz, television automotive analyst for KABC in Los Angeles, is a Mustang enthusiast and historian who has been into Mustangs since he was a child. Dave graciously provided a presentation of a lifetime with Mustangs, including his '68 Bullitt replica, which is the most accurate Bullitt replica in the country. Sunday morning, Leon Kaplin of KABC Radio conducted his Sunday Motorman talk show from the show grounds. MCA President Steve McCarley, MOCC President Craig Cunningham, and Jim Dunn were featured guests, getting a lot of good conversation going on LA's airwaves.
It was hard not to notice the video for Lee Iacocca's "Iacocca Silver Edition" on the big screen, which got everyone fired up. At the end of the smoky burnout, high-powered ride throughout Los Angeles and Southern California, the car roars up with Mr. Iacocca at the wheel and the words, "Who did you expect?" It brought the house down.
Ford Motor Company's own Sandi Badgett showed up with a 2010 Mustang for display purposes, along with the all-new 2010 Taurus for a ride and drive. Each entrant went home with a 2010 Mustang poster. Most who attended the MCA's first National Show in Los Angeles could call it magical and memorable-and indeed it was.