Taking a Look Back: First Show of the Year

Despite how eventful this year has been, some of the photos I’ve taken have not progressed to being sorted and edited until very recently. One of these events, which I attended back in January, was a local car show called the 2015 Series Open Car & Truck Show at “The Shops at Wiregrass,” a small outdoor mall in the tiny nearby town of Wesley Chapel, Florida. Despite this being the first I’d heard of this car show series, there was a pretty nice showing of cars with a good variety, which I’ve collected to share with you after the jump. 

1984 S3 Lotus Esprit Turbo

I was recently reminded of this show when I heard that the great Giorgietto Giugiaro, who designed so much of the cars and products, which many of us grew up using, had retired. No, signore Giugiaro was not at the show, however the first car which caught my eye when I arrived was designed by him, this 1984 Lotus Esprit Turbo.

I was able to chat with the owner a little bit. He playfully joked that he likes to bring it to shows like these in between breakdowns. All joking aside, it really is in magnificent shape for its age. I’d seen this car once before, at a duPont Registry cars & coffee event a year or so ago but wasn’t really satisfied with the shots, because the doors and hood were open and with a ‘70s wedge like this (as well as most cars without a front grille), I like to capture the shape with everything closed as it would be seen while driving, as it is seen here.

Ford Falcon Ranchero

When I saw this yellow Ford Falcon Ranchero, I knew I had to capture it for Tim Odell. It appears to be wearing American Racing Torq-Thrust wheels. Much of the under-hood area appeared to be polished, painted, or replaced with newer parts.

1963 Fiat 600

It’s hard to remember just how small the original Fiat 500 and 600 were until you see them in person. This one appeared to mostly be in original condition, with a straight body and its suicide doors.

The only noticeable changes were the wheels and the steering wheel, possibly to preserve the originals or to make the car safer to drive more often. I can’t say for sure as I did not encounter the owner.

1933 Packard Towncar

If there’s one thing you don’t expect to bump into today in the parking lot of a small town mall, it’s a pre-war Packard. The elegance of this car was overwhelming in person. While looking through the images recently, I was lured into a little “detective” work on this car.

In the full size image from under the hood, I noticed a date on the build plate ending in “99” which was either far too old or far too new to be the original build date. I then noticed that it was engraved to the man’s name on the big sign in front of the car, that being John McMullen. I did some digging online and found that Mr and Mrs McMullen owned 130 restored classic cars back in 2007, when they decided to reduce the collection by about 85 cars in an auction that year. From the condition of this Packard, it seems this one was likely restored back in 1999 for Mr McMullen, and was retained after the auctions.

1958 and 1966 Corvettes

Two Corvette roadsters were present from the Corvette’s first two generations. The 1958 Corvette, distinguishable by its hood louvers, seemed completely original from what I could tell.

This was another car that spurred some research as it had a plate on the front for “Twin City Dragway, Oldsmar, FL.” Being that I’ve grown up in nearby Tampa and had never heard of this track, I looked into it. I could only find a compiled list of quotes and anecdotes on the Tampa Racing forum, but apparently there used to be two drag racing tracks in the Tampa Bay area, Twin City and Tampa Dragway. Both were likely shut down, like so many others, by resident complaints. The things you learn just from a front plate…

Back to the Corvettes, the other is a 1966, which has been tastefully modified. The owner even had a little plaque under the hood with his name and showing the year 1966. It’s visible on the left side of the engine photo.


British Leyland Mini Clubman

Standing next to the Beetle is an old Mini Clubman, which has undergone an engine swap to what appears to be a Honda B-series 4-cylinder engine. I would not be surprised if it makes at least double the horsepower of the factory engine.

The interior has been thoroughly redone with a custom dash with aftermarket gauges by Cobalt, seats from an Alfa Romeo, and a steering wheel with a Honda “H” in the middle of the old British Leyland symbol. The tires and suspension appear to have been upgraded to handle the additional power.

Frankenstein-ed Volkswagen Karmann Ghia

There were a couple of Karmann Ghias at the show. I got a nice minimal shot (above) of the badge on the stock one. The other one however, seems to have undergone an eyelift perhaps courtesy of an early Porsche 911.

Considering that it’s got a 1.8 turbo engine swap in the back though, and can still fit the factory engine cover over the back, they probably know what they’re doing.

Those wheels, tires, and brakes are definitely not factory as well, but it’s got a nice touch with having the Karmann Ghia logo present on the brake calipers.

Return of the Arkley SS

Lastly, I ran into this little Arkley SS again, which I had previously written about seeing on the street. This time I got to meet the owners. They were very friendly but I couldn’t help feel a little awkward showing them the article I’d written about their car without having previously met them. A bit like a stalker showing a celebrity their collected photographs and news clippings. But it all went over well. The owner mentioned that he originally took inspiration for the color of the car when he saw it on a ’57 Chevy Bel Air.
We didn’t really get to talk about the build of the car or whether he had built it himself or not, or how long it took to build. Unfortunately I was coming down with a nasty cold that day and was on my way home at that point. I’ll have to try to catch another one of this group’s shows to see what else might show up in the future. Restoration and repair of my own Miata project has recently been making some positive steps forward and I will soon have that to share.
Photos Copyright 2015 Hooniverse/Bryce Womeldurf
View the full Flickr photo album here

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10 responses to “Taking a Look Back: First Show of the Year”

  1. david42 Avatar

    A Beetle with KdF swastikas on the wheels? Yuk.

    1. Bryce Womeldurf Avatar

      I didn’t really see them as swastikas but I suppose there is a resemblance. No offense intended on my part. I just thought they were interesting because they were old.

      1. david42 Avatar

        Of course! Didn’t mean to imply that it reflected on your judgement, but rather on the previous owner (and perhaps the current owner, if he knows what he bought).
        They are definitely supposed to resemble swastikas in motion. I’m sure you know the Beetle’s complicated history…
        It wouldn’t bother me if it were part of the car’s original history (like Nazi flags on Hitler’s actual car). But this Beetle was originally swastika-free, yet someone decided to add them.

        1. Guest Avatar

          Impressive observation, though. That is exactly what they are.


          You’re most likely right with it being not from this cars original history. It is a part of the history of the company, but from what I’ve just read, it seems that these were never put on a Beetle. Early Kubelwagens, maybe, but never Beetles.

          But, yeah still, it has some Nazi history. The degree of that history, and of its offensiveness, is subject to debate, but I agree, it’s pretty poor taste to put it, or an iron cross on a German, or any other car.

        2. Spridget Avatar

          Some VW people add pre-war and early post war touches (swastika wheels, uniform all black paint, etc) because they are trying to make their car look like a Split Window beetle. Split window prices have climbed out of reach for many people, so they resort to stuff like this. I personally am not a fan, but not everyone doing this is trying to make a Neo-Nazi statement. Still, it is in very poor taste considering Nazi history.

  2. Rover 1 Avatar
    Rover 1

    Do the wheels on that Packard look just a little off- too small a diameter or too wide a tire? As for the Fiat and the Karmann-Ghia. Well. Just a little jarring. (And I’ve put 17″ wheels on my Lancia Gamma Coupe.)

    1. salguod Avatar

      I saw that too. Not mentioned in the text, but the sign in front indicates that it’s running a 500 HP 502 engine, likely a Chevy, plus some other modern mods. Likely it got some chassis upgrades during the resto-mod transformation.

  3. Spridget Avatar

    A few things:
    1. Besides the wheels, the Fiat has an all-new custom interior. I’d be willing to bet the engine has been modded/swapped.
    2. VW Beetle with swastika wheels? Yeah, no.
    3. VTEC Mini swaps are pretty common. Mini Mania has a whole kit for them.
    4. I don’t know what that Arkley SS is, but I want it.

    1. Bryce Womeldurf Avatar

      The Arkley SS is an old kit car based on an MG. I’ve run into this one before on the street.

  4. salguod Avatar

    Interesting wheels in these vehicles.
    The generic aftermarket wheels on the Fiat are surprisingly not terrible. Not great, but not terrible.
    The oversized wheels on the Packard and the swastika wheels on the bug have already been covered.
    I appreciate the work done on the Ghia, but those wheels are terrible for the car.
    Lastly, I recognize the wheels on the Arkley but I can’t place them. I want to say early XJS except for the 4 lugs.