BUENA PARK, Calif. – The Ford Car Club Council has been assembling and presenting “Fab Fords” since its beginning, with 2017 being the 32st edition of this mega show. We’ve attended most of them, and while some aspects have changed, the important ones have not.
The basics remain: A huge Ford-, and Ford-related, -only show covering many acres of Buena Park, home to California’s famous Knott’s Berry Farm Amusement Park, whose parking lots are filled with great cars and people to see. Show day is always a warm, brilliantly blue-skied, clear Sunday. The spectator crowds are huge and enthusiastic, and nobody pays a penny to get in and enjoy the show, as it was again for 2017. Just about any Ford, Ford-related brand and anything ever powered by a Ford engine is welcome (including DeTomasos, Cortinas, Pintos, Fiestas, Cobras, Merkurs, Edsels, Lincolns, Mercurys, Models T’s to 2018’s -- you name it).
The number-crunching aspect of Fab Fords is staggering: Around 50 member clubs participate in one way or another, not in any way forgetting the nearly 250 volunteers it takes to put it all together and manage the field. Want Mustangs? Sure; more than 1,000 of them on hand. That’s not to mention hundreds more of anything legitimately Ford-related – this year totaling 1,641 cars, trucks, and Ford Things preregistered for the show.
And oh, that number doesn’t include Ford’s own display vehicles, and those that came along with sponsors, including Ford Performance, customizers and aftermarket concerns. When it’s all is said and done, those displays had to push the total to at least 2,000 cars, trucks and engines to see and enjoy. And there’s always some important Ford model anniversaries to celebrate – this year including 55 years of the Shelby Cobra, 50 years of the Mercury Cougar, and 85 years of the Ford Flathead V-8 engine.
Let’s not forget that you get to see some very important Ford folk here. This time around there were headliners such as factory Ford GT driver Sebastien Bourdais, who shared the winning Ford GT in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June 2016 and the 24 Hours of Daytona in February 2017, plus Steve Saleen, who did more than his share of racing and specialty Mustang-building along the way. The ever cool and jovial 2003-05 Ford GT designer Camilo Pardo was also on hand, as well as two racy ladies needing no further introduction, named Linda Vaughn, and Cleo (Mrs. Carroll) Shelby. VIPs for sure, all of them on hand to sign autographs and share in your selfies.
Ford’s “center lawn” pavilion display was given over to the a superb line of Mercury Cougars, including the first production example built in 1966, plus a gaggle of flathead-powered Fords, and three highly original, unrestored Shelby Cobras (entering middle age quite nicely at 55) – it was Blue Oval Heaven, with nary a small-block Chevy to be found. Yum.
So how do they top this show for next year? Well, it’s easy, really. Because this event is a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy; next year – and the next and next – there will be more model anniversaries to recognize (expect lots of Highland Green Metallic with 2018 being the 50th anniversary of the seminal Steve McQueen Mustang flying-car chase flick, Bullitt), and another batch of Ford VIPs on hand to smile for your camera, tell stories, and sign autographs. After all, let’s not forget that the event’s official name is “Fabulous Fords Forever.”
FORD PERFORMANCE PHOTOS COURTESY MATT STONE / INSPIRED COMMUNICATIONS