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Friday, December 14, 2018
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Tornados & Classic Cars don’t mix!


A tornado ripped through the property of Staunton, Illinois-based Country Classic Cars on Saturday, causing significant damageNobody at the classic car dealership and shop was injured. The tornado battered three buildings and an estimated 100 cars.

The business suffered another setback in August 2017 when a major fire destroyed 143 cars and required 13 fire departments to extinguish. Owners Russ and Anita Noel rebuilt and reopened in March.

“It’s depressing, but luckily we’re working right through it,” Russ Noel, who founded the dealership in 1999, told THE SHOP. “The good thing is, nobody got hurt. We’re still trying to see now much damage there is. The tornado went over the main building here—one that we built last year—and came down and hit two other buildings.”

Flying Carports

The tornado at Country Classic Cars picked up and tossed at least 10 carports, damaging two 13,000-square-foot buildings, including one that had been repaired after the fire and another featuring a new addition opened less than two weeks ago. Country Classic Cars has a total of five buildings packed with 500 total vehicles.

A lot of the cars have minor dents and broken glass. A red Ford Falcon Futura Convertible, stored inside one of the damaged buildings, was flipped on its side into a vehicle from the 1930s. A Mercury Comet wound up with a few dents, while a Ford Model-T and a 1953 Ford were covered with pieces of wooden trusses from the steel building they had been in.

“We don’t know if the Falcon that got tossed on its side will be a total loss,” Noel said. “Our first concern was to move or protect vehicles with damaged windshields and torn convertible tops so the rain and snow didn’t get into them,” Noel said.

The shop staff had to search to find keys to each vehicle, with the key lockbox kept in one of the damaged buildings.

“It’s Tuesday (Dec. 4) and I still don’t know exactly how many cars were damaged,” Noel said. “There are parts of the building we can’t even walk through yet.”

The Helpers

Noel found sheet metal debris all along the side of the property that faces the highway. A large ceramic owl used to scare birds away from the cars was carried 200 yards away by the wind.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch published photos a day after the storm showing Noel using a tractor to clear debris and fixing a fence. Other repairs at the dealership are underway, including the installation of 25 new garage doors to replace those sucked out of their frames by the tornado. A team of Amish craftsman is assisting in the rebuild.

“Everything is moving along very quickly,” Noel said. “Believe it or not, the Amish craftsmen have to drive two hours to get here to work. They get there the first thing in the morning and they do excellent quality work. We should be back in good shape by the end of December or the first week in January at the latest. People have already told us ‘you’ve got stamina.’”

Help has come from others close to the dealership as well.

“I have good helpers, like my buyer Steve Gomer and Bill Henson, a former employee. They came out in the rain and snow to help me clean up the mess. When we had the fire my employees all helped out, and the same thing happened this time,” he said.

Lessons to Live By

After seeing the extensive damage left by the tornado, Noel’s insurance agent told him to do what’s necessary to fix the damage and get back to business. Noel stressed the importance of having a good insurance agent and to be honest about damage claims.

“For each car that gets damaged, by either the fire or the storm, I show him copies of the check I used to buy the vehicle, so he knows exactly what I’ve got in it,” he said. “Our agent said I was the best guy to work with on this stuff. I think I learned a lot about what to do after the fire.”

Lessons learned from the 2017 fire have already proved valuable to Country Classic Cars. For instance, Noel said it’s important not to settle for the cheapest repairs available.

“After the fire, we went for a low bid on an office repair and we wound up redoing the office twice,” he said. “We also had problems with a floor that was redone after the fire. That’s why we decided to use Amish workers, because they do things right.”

Country Classic Cars is adamant about maintaining its resiliency in the face of back-to-back disasters.

“We are not going to let a tornado stop us, like we didn’t let the fire stop us,” Noel said. “After the Tornado, we were selling cars again by Monday.”


Article and Photos courtesy of John Gunnell of The Shop

2020 Mustang Shelby GT500


Muscle car fans hoping for a surprise reveal of the new Ford Mustang Shelby GT500at this week’s 2018 Los Angeles auto show are in for disappointment as Ford is saving the debut for January’s 2019 Detroit auto show, a company spokesman confirmed to Motor Authority on Tuesday.

Instead, the Blue Oval’s focus in L.A. this week is the launch of the 2020 Lincoln Navigator. The handsome luxury crossover SUV was revealed on Tuesday and goes on sale next summer.

As for the Shelby GT500, Ford has released a handful of teasers over the past year, and a new one is on display in L.A. A 1967 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 is highlighted in Ford’s stand and below the car it reads “GT500 1.14.19,” along with cards detailing the history of the Shelby Mustangs over the years. “1.14.19” is the opening date for next year’s Detroit show.

Ford showed the car at a dealer event held in October, with one individual attending the event having snapped a photo and posting it online.

In addition to aggressive looks, the car is known to be coming with a 5.2-liter supercharged V-8 that Ford has confirmed will deliver over 700 horsepower. The engine will feature a cobra snake logo on its supercharger housing and is expected to skip the flat-plane crank of the naturally aspirated 5.2-liter V-8 Ford uses for its Mustang Shelby GT350. What isn’t so clear is whether a manual transmission will be offered as there are rumors Ford is developing the car with a dual-clutch setup only.

Key competition for the Shelby GT500 will be the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE and Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye. The rival models deliver 650 and 797 hp, respectively. Given the improvements Ford has made with its latest Mustangs in the areas of ride and handling, the car may also lure some buyers of pricey sports cars like the Mercedes-AMG GT and Porsche 911.

The 2019 Detroit auto show, officially the North American International Auto Show, will run from January 14-27. To learn about some of the other vehicles set to appear, head to our dedicated hub.

Article and photo courtesy of Viknesh Vijayenthiran at Motor Authority

The 1962 Ed Roth “Mysterion”


Imitation, as they say, is the sincerest form of flattery.

If that’s the case, then Ed “Big Daddy” Roth fanatic Jeffrey Jones essentially created a driveable compliment.

Specifically, a banana-yellow one that looks like it should be piloted across Mars by a Minion.

A California gearhead with a great fondness for the creations of the cartoonist/car customizer Ed “Big Daddy” Roth (which include animated hot rod driver Rat Fink and other characters), Jones was a particular fan of a UFO-like show car Roth designed called the Mysterion.

Built by Roth – who Tom Wolfe once called “the Salvador Dali of hot rodding” – in 1963, the Mysterion, which wasn’t actually driveable, made it to a number of hot rod shows and appeared in magazines before it was damaged during transport and ultimately stripped for parts later in the decade.

Jones fell in love with the Mysterion and, even though no specs or blueprints for the model existed outside of Roth’s imagination, he vowed to build a replica model of the car when he was able.

A petroleum engineer by trade, Jones began his recreation in the early 2000s and used everything from interviews and magazine articles to photographs and model kits as sources for information about the mysterious car.

What Jones did know about the original custom creation is that Roth had installed a twin-engine set-up featuring two Ford V8s paired with two transmissions at the front of the Mysterion.

In front of the exposed engines, Roth installed an oblong front grille and an asymmetrical nose with a single large headlight mounted on the left. Behind all of that, Roth installed a hydraulically operated bubble cockpit onto the foundation he had previously crafted from welding together two rear ends.

In his new model, Jones used a frame covered in pre-polished stainless steel and added several inches of clearance and a coil-spring suspension so the car would actually be able to drive.

Jones also installed both engines but hollowed out the one on the passenger side to conceal the car’s alternator. He did install a cross belt to make it appear as if both engines are functional, but only the one on the driver’s side works.

Jones became so familiar with the legendary car during the build process, he could’ve written the book on it. So he did, penning the 2016 tome Ed Roth’s Mysterion: The Genesis, Demise, and Recreation of an Iconic Custom Car.

“Ed, like all great artists, did not rely on tape measures for his creations,” Jones wrote in the book. “This emphasizes that Ed was not a car customizer as his contemporaries were. He was an artist who used the automobile as his medium.”

Documenting the car as well as providing a bolt-by-bolt look at how Jones fashioned the replica from custom parts, hand-sanded fiberglass and materials bought on eBay, the book offers tons of insights about Roth and his thinking as well as hundreds of “how-to” illustrations.

“I was forced to make a few tough decisions on some big changes to several details,” Jones wrote. “The first obvious decision was, do I honor Ed’s blatant refusal to use a tape measure and build in the huge variations from symmetry he built into the body, or succumb to the urge to make them uniform? The next big difference in the cars is I wanted mine to run and be somewhat drivable.”

Up for sale at the Petersen Automotive Museum Auction on December 8 along with more than 50 other blue-chip automobiles, the RM Sotheby’s lot includes a custom trailer and production molds for the recreation model in case the buyer wants to make more.

RM Sotheby’s hasn’t given a price estimate for the car but it’ll probably be, ahem, out of this world. Considering the replica is the only one of its kind and the original is no longer in existence, we’d estimate at least six figures.


Article and Photos courtesy of Evan Bleier at Real Clear Life.

1,000 Horsepower Engine?!


The Mopar brand stampeded into SEMA Show with a new HEMI-engine-powered beast called the Hellephant. The 426 Supercharged Mopar Crate HEMI engine turns the crank at a mammoth 1,000 horsepower and 950 lb.-ft. of torque.

The company also revealed its 1968 Dodge Super Charger concept, which featured the Hellephant crate HEMI engine assembly and kit.

“Our enthusiasts crave power and performance and our new ‘Hellephant’ Mopar Crate HEMI engine and kit deliver huge horsepower and torque in a plug-and-play package that is unique in the industry,” said Steve Beahm, head of parts & service for Mopar and passenger car brands for FCA North America. “The 1968 Dodge Charger is one of the hottest classic cars, which is why we decided to use it as a starting point for the ‘Super Charger’ Concept. It’s an amazing vehicle and a great showcase for our ‘Hellephant’ engine.”

The Hellephant engine hits the magical 1,000 horsepower mark via bulked-up displacement, with 4 inches of stroke and bore specs at 4.125 inches. An improved supercharger with a high-efficiency rotor is mounted on the all-aluminum block, which provides huge weight savings to keep the Hellephant light, according to Mopar. The all-aluminum block, used in Mopar Dodge Challenger Drag Pak race vehicles that dominated the 2018 NHRA Factory Stock Showdown class, was configured for the street in close collaboration with Mopar and engineers from the motorsports world.

The engine and kit’s distinctive Hellephant logo provides a nod to the Mopar brand’s past and present, according to the company. The logo and name call out the legendary 426 HEMI engine, first introduced in 1964 and nicknamed the Elephant engine for its power and size, as well as the 707-horsepower Mopar Hellcrate Engine Kit, revealed last year at the SEMA Show.

The complete engine assembly includes a water pump, flywheel, front sump oil pan, supercharger with throttle body, fuel injectors and coil packs. The crate engine assembly can be paired with the Mopar Hellephant 426 Supercharged Mopar Crate HEMI Engine Kit for relatively simple plug-and-play by experienced installers, according to Mopar. The engine assembly and kit are designed for installation on pre-1976 street and off-road vehicles.

Additional features of the Hellephant 426 Supercharged Mopar Crate HEMI engine include valve covers imported from the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye and valve train, valves, locks and retainers pulled from the Dodge Challenger SRT Demon. The engine build includes a special high-lift cam, as well as custom-forged pistons.

Dropping in the Hellephant is almost turnkey with the Hellephant 426 Supercharged Mopar Crate HEMI Engine Kit. The kit includes a powertrain control module (PCM), power distribution center, engine wiring harness, chassis harness, accelerator pedal, ground jumper, oxygen sensors, charge air temperature sensors, fuel pump control module and cam bus interface device. The PCM is unlocked and tuned to pump out 1,000 horsepower and 950 lb.-ft. torque.

As with the “Hellcrate” engine, Mopar will also offer an essential Front End Accessory Drive (FEAD) Kit, which includes an alternator, power-steering pump, belts, pulleys and more, and is among additional engine accessory hardware components available to assist in installing the Hellephant.

The kit ships in unique packaging, featuring the “Hellephant” logo and includes in-depth information sheets with helpful installation tips and requirements.


Article and Photo Courtesy of The Shop.

The Christmas Show Concert


The Chairman of the Board Meets the King of Rock

The Christmas Show Concert
26601 Ryan Rd
Warren, MI
Buffet, Cash Bar, Entertainment

Freeman’s Super Sunday Swap Meet


Freeman’s Super Sunday Swap Meet

Indiana State Fairgrounds
1202 E 38th St.
Indianapolis, IN 8am-3pm
Admission: $8

Ohio Ford Expo


Ohio Ford Expo

All Ford Product Swap Meet and Car Corral
Ohio Expo Center, Voinovich and Buckeye Buildings
717 E 17th Ave.
Columbus, OH

Cars and Coffee


Cars and Coffee

Gateway Classic Cars
15000 Commerce Dr. North
Dearborn, MI 9am-Noon

Kalamazoo Circus Maximus Toy Show


Welcome to the Largest Antique Toy & Collectible Show in Michigan!
The Circus Maximus Toy Show is held twice a year in the Spring and Fall at the Kalamazoo County Fairgrounds. Conveniently situated halfway between Detroit and Chicago, or Grand Rapids and South Bend, IN. Nearly 50,000 square feet of toys from over 200 vendors around the country will be here for you to explore. You will find your favorite childhood toys including but not limited to; Japanese pressed tin litho, cast iron banks, steel pedal cars, Smith Miller & Tonka trucks, old robots, and science fiction items, battery operated toys, cap guns, western toys, and more. For the younger collectors, there is a lot to see from Disney, Star Trek, Star Wars, GI Joe, slot cars, movie, TV and sports memorabilia, and action figures of all kinds. You will also find antique pedal cars and tractors along with spare parts.

Public Show Hours are
Saturday, 9 AM to 2 PM

General Admission:
$7.00 per person
Saturday, 9 AM to 2 PM

Early Buyers / Floor Rights:
$30.00 per person gets you
in the show Friday from 4 – 8 PM
and Saturday morning at 7 AM

10th Anniversary Muscle Car and Corvette Nationals


Muscle Car and Corvette Nationals
Donald E Stephens Convention Center
Rosemont, IL

Saturday, November 17: 9AM8PM
Sunday, November 18: 9AM5PM

Cruise with Us!


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