Close this search box.

Showing off the muscles: American Muscle Car Nationals

30 January 2015

Some might see the annual V 4&Rotary Nationals, held on January 24, as a show that would only appeal to the ‘boy racer’ — that couldn’t be further from the truth. While the show’s focus is clearly primarily on Japanese, modified, and performance vehicles, the show opens its doors to most automotive fields.

One display breaking down the boundaries was the American Muscle Car Nationals, held in the ASB Showgrounds’ main hall.

Organized by the American Muscle Car Club, the display exhibited a variety of American vehicles — factory muscle, show cars, drag weapons, and pro-street style were all there.

One of the stand out cars was this 1964 Ford Fairlane Thunderbolt replica. The original Thunderbolt was a very limited-production, factory drag racer that secured Ford the 1964 NHRA Super Stock title. The Thunderbolt came with a 427ci V8 (official power figures are a conservative 425hp, but estimated to be as high as 600hp), and this example is fitted with a Tremec five-speed manual gearbox (the factory four-speed manual gearboxes were produced by Borg Warner). The Mickey Thompson rear tyres, side-exit exhausts, ‘teardrop’ bonnet bulge, and headlights converted to intake ducts all scream muscle car, and this was undoubtedly one of the toughest cars not just in the hall, but in the whole show.

Mark Barton’s immaculate Chevrolet Biscayne L72 was another standout for those who looked beyond flashy wheels and engine bays. We featured this car in NZV8 issue 99, and with its hugely powerful 427ci big block, Muncie M21 four-speed, and ‘cheater slicks’ rear tyres, the L72 is the perfect bowtie answer to Ford’s staunch Thunderbolt. In a very similar vein is this 1970 Chevelle, owned by John Murray and pictured in the gallery below [0N0A7861.JPG] — a genuine factory LS6-optioned item. Fitted with 454ci big block rated at 450hp, these cars perfectly sum up an era where power had the final say.

Speaking of power, the STA Parts ‘65 Falcon doorslammer, normally raced by Squig Miles, attracted a lot of attention from those who managed to spot the very black car. Running a Sainty big block and Littlefield blower, the car is as fast as it looks — it has run a 6.99 at 191mph.

Just as hearty, and definitely one of the standout cars there, was the immaculately finished ‘68 Plymouth Barracuda belonging to Marion Livingstone — able to comfortably hold its own down the quarter mile and on the show floor, the ‘Cuda is a truly spectacular all-rounder.

The bright orange 1970 Dodge Challenger that is our current NZV8 cover car, owned by Phil Kenny, wowed everyone with its perfect paint and appearance, and clean engine bay consisting mainly of 426 cubes of modern fuel injected Hemi. The work Phil put into the car paid dividends here, as he walked away with a whole swag of awards — Best Mopar, Best Paint, and Best Engine Bay. 

Check out these examples from the ‘aero wars’ period — amazing pieces of machinery I hope others took the time to appreciate. They were surrounded by great examples of American automotive culture, from Mustangs, through to Camaros, Impalas, and even a tidy old Buick Riviera.

Of course, let’s not forget that it is the V 4&Rotary show — if you’re interested in all the other facets of automotive culture that make this show what it is, check out NZ Performance Car’s coverage here, and our little write-up on the Air Ride and Lowrider Nationals that the event also held.