Words & Photos: Emmanuel Zaparenkos
I remember going to the Toronto Custom Car Show with my father when I was a kid, back then it was in the Automotive Building at Exhibition Place. My dad would always buy me a framed mirror that featured a mural of my favorite car.
Well the mirrored murals are gone but now there are die-cast cars for the kids. It really is a family event, perfect for passing on your vehicle passions to the next generation. I saw a lot of families when I went this year, which makes me happy that the sport and hobby is in good hands for the future.
Some of the featured cars were beautiful. The first car I saw when I entered was Mark Roxborough’s Torch Red 64 Chevy II Nova SS. There were mirrors showing the undercarriage and the chassis was clean enough to eat off of. The drag car featured a Small Block Chevy, which must pound some heavy horsepower to match up the fat slicks in the back.
I was blown away by a 10.5 Outlaw 1968 Camaro, which featured a 598 Big Block Chevy with nitrous and a Liberty 5 speed. That is a lot of motor for only a ten and a half wide tire. The chassis was slammed and had a funny car cage but I still think it might get a little squirrelly on an unprepped surface.
A gorgeous '57 Ford Custom Gasser owned by Don Gordon caught my attention. The show car featured a Big Block Ford 429 with a C6 and 2800 stall. The gasser epitomized the golden age of drag racing when the front end was all hopped up like it was going to eat you. This was done to throw all the weight on the back slicks to plant the tires and launch the car.
A combination of the old drag race set up with a new model car was exhibited in a Ford Shelby GT 500 owned by Mike Dimech. The racecar featured a 582 Big Block Ford with a Liberty 4 Speed. Another vehicle that played to this theme was a '55 Pro Street Chevy with the new style supercharger instead of one sticking out of the hood like in Mad Max.
There weren't lot of movie cars this year, I’m usually used to a lot of star cars making an appearance. However there were some Elvis pre-owned cars. Danny “The Count” Koker from Counting Cars and Ice-T and Coco were the celebrities that attended the event.
There was the usual classic all original muscle cars and the custom souped-up ones. The tuner and import part of the building represented a lot of turbos and systems. And I thought the sound system was dead but it is alive and well in the tuner lifestyle.
Rusted up rat rods featured some '34 Fords and a large oval racing section represented the left turners. There were a lot of vintage trucks and even some monster trucks. Also some space dedicated to pro street choppers showing off some wicked designs.
The Fox Body Mustangs, a personal favorite of mine, were scarcely represented which was a let down. The Fox is not worth much original but has been so heavily customized for performance in the last 30 years that it has changed drag racing, giving a younger generation something to run. Overall, there was a disappointing lack of drag racers.
Yhe star of the show was a 1972 “Mr. C” Top Fuel Dragster. I chatted with the current owner Al Nosse. The car was built in 1971-72 and raced from '72-'77. It was built and raced by Gary “Mr. C” Cochran. The car featured a 417 Donovan Engine Number 8, which means it was the eighth Donovan motor ever produced. The 417 was punched out to 454 cubic inches. The car is all original, documented as original and features all period correct parts. The car ran 6.4 seconds at 254 mph.
Mr. Nosse told me this exact car beat “Big Daddy” Don Garlits, Don “The Snake” Prudhomme and Chris “The Golden Greek” Karamesines. Not a lot of cars can say they’ve done that. And seeing that The Snake switched to Funny car in the early 1970s proves that this Top Fuel is very rare. It will be at the U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis this August and September for the 60th anniversary and Al said they are going to crackle it.