Southern California Car Culture is like no other.

The 18th Goodguys Del Mar Nationals was arguably the best yet. Where to begin?

This event was held at the Del Mar Fairgrounds, home of the San Diego County Fair.

In addition to the incredible array of rods and customs, this year also included a large and colorful display of amazing lowriders – long a part of the Southern California car culture. Even if you’re not familiar with the term lowriders, you’ve probably seen them hopping on
their tires.

A lowrider cruising the Del Mar Fairgrounds.

– Another lowrider cruising the Del Mar Fairgrounds in Southern California.

Saturday was a big day. Special parking was reserved for the “Camaro Corral,” the “Tri-5 Chevy Corral,” “Mighty Muscle” and others. The “Good Wood Area” was “a spectacular gathering of woodies in the Plaza de Mexico.”

There were over 2,500 hot rods and custom cars on display in the “Show n’ Shine” area.

Proving that they were not all show and no go, several cars – and a truck – produced billowing clouds of tire smoke in the burnout competition.

Terrific bargains were available at the huge swap meet.

Treasures included vintage car parts, road signs, toys, old license plates and even
complete cars.

A blue-with-black-fenders, 1928 Ford Model A was being advertised for only $13,000! If only I had room for it.

– 1928 Ford Model A offered for only $13,000!

There were also project and parts cars available, including a rollover-wrecked, 2014 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 with what was described as a sound engine and drivetrain – for an asking price of $16,500 or best offer.

– Wrecked 2014 Ford Mustang Shelby GT 500 offered for $16,500 for its parts,
including engine.

A beautiful 1950 Ford F1 panel truck, in Gongora’s Body and Paint livery and painted in two-tone light green and off-white, was towing a matching 1955 StarFire vintage trailer, which was outfitted with period-correct camping knick-knacks, plates and pillows. Its proud owners do a lot of vintage camping. The sky is the limit for what people do to enhance these rigs, with some cleverly concealing all of the modern comforts of home while keeping the vintage look.

– 1950 Ford F1 truck & 1955 StarFire trailer.

A stunning 1932 Lincoln – upgraded with a Chevrolet LS3 engine and modern independent suspension, so as to be safe for freeway driving – was staged to include a chauffeur patiently waiting for his master to return to be driven somewhere.

– 1932 Lincoln with Chevrolet LS3 engine and independent suspension.

Nearby was a wonderfully home-built/restored, 1940 Autocar Cab-Over-Engine truck.

– 1940 Autocar COE.

1940 Autocar COE before restoration.

Completely restored 1940 Autocar Cab Over Engine.

At the popular Goodguys Nitro Thunderfest, extremely loud dragsters were fired up in all their raucous glory. Earplugs were strongly recommended.

At the Goodguys Autocross, the on-track action was as intense as ever as the fans in the stands cheered on their favorite cars and drivers.

– Walking the autocross course to get familiar with it.

– Last-minute autocross preparations.

One at a time the drivers negotiated the tight turns, slipping and sliding up to – and sometimes beyond – the limits of adhesion as they each raced their way towards the finish line. The penalty for pushing just a little too hard was hitting at least one cone, and perhaps several, knocking them high into the air and earning penalty points for each one struck.

The main autocross competition concluded on Saturday afternoon with the 16-car “Duel in Del Mar.”

– The winning car on Saturday – a 1975 Datsun 280-Z with a 540hp LS3 V-8!

– Celebratory donuts.

Then, on All American Sunday, the autocross was opened up to all years of American made – or American-powered – cars and trucks, including an American V-8-powered Porsche! That raised some eyebrows.

– Porsche powered by an American V-8 — and it works!

As in past years I could not resist the temptation to dust off my 2011 Mustang GT, put on my helmet and go for it once again. I’m getting rusty, as was evidenced by the huge drop in my times over the span of my first three runs. However, by the end I was back to my
former form.

Staging my 2011 Mustang GT to take an autocross run on All American Sunday.

Staging my Mustang to take an autocross run on All American Sunday.

– My favorite autocross/slalom car — a rusted out 1970 Datsun 240-Z — in competition
in the 1980s.

– A highly modified Datsun 240-Z at the Goodguys Del Mar Nationals.

There was also plenty for kids to see and do. At the Kids’ Zone, they could bounce and compete in kids-sized games of skill.

– Kids’ Zone activity.

At the Kids’ Model Car Make n’ Take, they were each given their own model car kit to build and then take home.

– Building a Mustang at the Kids’ Model Car Make n’ Take.

For kids of any age, there was also an exhibition of highly detailed model cars and trucks.

– One of the amazing scale models on display.

On Sunday, right before the presentation of the 70 awards, several little kids were invited to go up on stage, join the band and sing to a very appreciative audience.

– One of the 70 or so vehicles receiving an award on Sunday afternoon.

– Goodguys “Good Wood” award winner.

– Richard Dinnen’s award-winning 1956 Ford from El Cajon, California.

– The glove box door was autographed by Carroll Shelby & this U.S. Navy fighter pilot’s gearshift lever is from a real Navy jet.

– Tom and Gayle Nugent’s 1940 Autocar Cab Over Engine from
Riverside, California.

– This hot rod competed in the Goodguys autocross.

Fun-loving David Carroll won Saturday’s Goodguy’s autocross in his 1975 Datsun 280-Z with a 540hp LS3 V-8!

– David Gongora’s “Period Perfect” 1950 Ford F1 truck & 1955 StarFire trailer.

– From Long Beach, CA: Vince Scully’s chauffeur-driven 1932 Lincoln with a Chevrolet LS3 V-8 and independent suspension.

– Opening the 2018 Goodguys Street Rod d’ Elegance winning envelope.

– Goodguys 2018 Street Rod d’ Elegance winner.

Throughout the year, Goodguys presents these popular gatherings for car enthusiasts across the country. To find an event near you, go to

– One of the many parts vendors.

– When all is said and done it’s all about the cars and trucks, and how we feel about them.


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Jan Wagner

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