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Goodguys Heartland Gallery

Fairly ordinary then, far from ordinary now: a 1963 Ford Galaxie 500 two-door hardtop.

Every summer, the Goodguys Rod & Custom Association stages about 20 annual street rod and custom car events at fairgrounds and other large venues across the country. These are sprawling, weekend-long gatherings that include attractions such as swap meets, manufacturer midways, live music, autocross competitions, and plenty of on-premises cruising. They draw huge numbers of participant vehicles and spectators—the larger events regularly surpass 4000 registered show cars.

2013 Goodguys Heartland Nationals

“Barn finds” are all the rage these days in the vintage-car world. This 1969 Camaro SS 396 was on display in “as-found” condition, accumulated grime and all.

It’s a summer tradition of mine to attend the Goodguys Heartland Nationals show at the Iowa State Fairgrounds every Fourth of July weekend. I haven’t missed a single show yet, and this year’s edition was the 22nd annual. Goodguys shows are street rod, custom, street machine, and muscle-car events first and foremost, but every year I’m surprised at the number of interesting stock (or at least “stock-ish”) vehicles I find mixed in with the expected T-buckets, ’32 Fords, Tri-Five Chevys, Mustangs, Camaros, and Chevelles. Most Goodguys events draw huge numbers of cars (this year’s Heartland Nats reached a record-breaking 4,300 vehicles), more than any one person can see in a weekend. With that kind of volume, chances are good you’ll find something that’s right up your alley. I decided to chronicle some of the more unusual “non-custom” vehicles I came across. Have a look . . .

1948 Chrysler Town and Country convertible

Just a nearly stock 1948 Chrysler Town and Country convertible, right? Wrong. . . .

For the last 20 years, my annual Fourth of July weekend activities have included a pilgrimage to the Goodguys Heartland Nationals at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines. Goodguys is a Northern California-based car-show event promoter that puts on a full summer schedule of street-rod/custom/muscle-car-centric events at venues across the nation.


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