Now 10 years old, the annual Chicago show gathers the rarest and finest of multi-marque muscle cars.
It’s easy to run out of superlatives when describing the Muscle Car and Corvette Nationals (MCACN) held each November in the heated expanse of the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in the shadow of O’Hare airport in Rosemont, Illinois. Suffice to say, if you consider yourself to be a serious muscle or performance car enthusiast, you’d have attended the weekend event and gained enough car-enthusiasm to stay warm through a cold Chicago winter.
There’s so much quality iron here – in such rare combinations of colors and options – that even a Ford guy could find a Chevy to like. And vice-versa.
Entering the hall, you were greeted by the original Plymouth Rapid Transit System cars. Shown together publicly for the first time in decades, this trio of factory-custom show cars toured the country in the early 1970’s to build excitement for Chrysler products. Sadly, owner Steven Juliano passed away from a longtime battle with cancer shortly before the show’s premier.
Across the aisle were the Dodge division’s Scat Pack cars, featuring nearly every model and more bright colors than a bag of M&Ms. The Scat Pack ad campaign persists to this day with the new Challengers and Chargers, and taps in to the period-excitement of these bold performance cars.
Numerous “Class of ‘68” groups celebrated the 50th anniversary of the benchmark year that many consider the beginning of the Golden Age of the Muscle Car. Sub-classes included a 1968 Hurst/Olds group, a Chevy II group, and a Hurst-Hemi Super Stock Barracuda and Dart drag car invitational.
Auctioneer Craig Jackson choose MCACN to officially unveil his freshly-restored 1968 Ford Shelby GT500 EXP prototype, famously known as “The Green Hornet.” The car features an advanced Conelec fuel injection system and independent rear suspension.
During the research for this car’s restoration, another one-off prototype GT500 was discovered and acquired by Jackson. “Little Red” is a barn-find 1967 Shelby Mustang coupe which was displayed alongside “The Green Hornet” in as-found condition, only to be rushed off to begin restoration after the show concluded for an expected reveal only 12-months later at MCACN 2019.
A fun attraction was a cutaway Corvette display which functioned just as it did on the stand at the 1965 New York’s World Fair. It was donated by GM to Central Michigan University in March of 1966 and was passed between trade school programs before being discovered by the current owner in 2004. After 4 ½ years of negotiations with the school, he purchased the chassis and restored it for display.
Another popular draw is the Barn Finds and Hidden Gems display, which featured plenty of rare cars in their unrestored state, many still showing layers of caked dirt.
Next year’s show promises a Pontiac Ram-Air Reunion, the Class of 1969 50th Anniversary Invitational, and the 50th Anniversary of the 6-Pack Super Bee and 6-bbl Roadrunner. After a decade of celebrating American muscle, the MCACN has become a necessary stop for any serious fan of Detroit performance.