If you’ve been reading the ol’ ‘Verse for anything more than a week or two, you know that hot rod shows filled with surf music piped over the P.A. system and gaggles of graying, rounding Boomers shuffling around proclaiming, “I used to have one just like that” to their friends/hot daughters kids/spouses/etc. aren’t really our stock and trade. Nevertheless, some of us (Hello!) enjoy these congregations of chrome and glasspacks, and few are more renown and better organized than those put on by the Goodguys Rod & Custom Association (as opposed to the defunct home electronics retailer chain or that new buddy cop show co-starring Tom Hanks’ clone son). Goodguys’ annual Orange County show at the fairgrounds in Costa Mesa (which will host a Barrett-Jackson auction for the first time next month) took place this past weekend, and while there was no shortage of Tri-Five Chevys and street rods, there were also plenty of pleasant surprises and oddities that, in your humble servant’s opinion, would be more than welcome at any Hoonitarian Church sevis service. Okay, enough with the verbiage, here are the highlights. For fans of full-size muscle cars not named Galaxie or Impala there was this very clean ’65 Mercury Marauder that was claimed to be all original except for a respray. Packing a 330hp Interceptor-spec 390-inch FE/Cruise-O-Matic combo with power steering and brakes, this bodacious barge was offered for sale at a paltry $12,500 or best offer. Was it the bargain of the weekend? Is Elvis still dead? Speaking of way cool, mostly unrestored FoMoCo products, this ’58 Ford Ranch Wagon has serious hoon cred. Having never left the Cheyenne, WY area until being purchased by its fifth and current owner a couple years ago, this six-cylinder, non-overdrive three-on-the-tree ootingshay akebray positively screamed “time capsule.” The owner said he contemplated a full restoration, but decided against it. Good choice. Another car that looked like it could have driven off the set of The Andy Griffith Show was this lovely ’50 Oldsmobile 88 Holiday hardtop coupe. But this baby wasn’t stock, oh heavens no. Closer inspection revealed a smattering of early ‘60s speed equipment, including a three-pod gauge cluster with a Sun tach front-and-center, a sending unit for said tach and, to cap it all off, a McCulloch supercharger feeding the 303 Rocket. Any surprise it was my pick for Best of Show? Also filed under “badass vintage speed equipment,” we find this ’66 Pontiac GTO with a very cool surprise under the bonnet: a crazy-rare 1958 Rochester Pontiac fuel injection unit feeding a 421 that’s been punched out to 434 cubes. The owner and his wife drove it out from Arizona with no sweat (either literal or figurative, thanks to the air conditioning system), and he says he’s about to start building a ’58 Poncho with another F.I. unit he bought. Lastly: SNOWFLAKES! Not far from that Goat was this, ahem, Porsche 914. As if the handbuilt coupe body wasn’t a big enough wow, the Small Block Chevy in back is definitely good for a few wows (as well as a few other words that may offend some readers) by itself. Memo to the owner: Don’t ever paint it, unless you want people constantly approaching you and saying, “Neat looking kit! Who makes it?” Finally, think of the last Cord you saw. Now think of the last rat rodded one you saw. Can’t remember? Well, you’ll definitely remember this ’36 Beverly “Armchair” sedan. In addition to the ability to give purists the dry heaves, this prewar front-driver counts a folding front armrest (supposedly one of only two in existence) and a hopped up 289-inch Lycoming flattie V8 as features. You can’t get much more alternative than this, kids. And that’s kinda the whole idea behind these shows. Sure, it’s easy to spot the popular stuff, but there are some against-the-grain gems which tend to get just as many – if not more – props from attendees. Warms the oh cockles of yer heart, don’t it?