With a recent move to the Reno, Nevada area for work, I was excited at the prospect of desert life. Coming from the Mid-West, Nevada meant no salt on the roads and a longer summer season. For weeks, all I have noticed are the hundreds of cars that would have rotted away to nothing by this point in Michigan or Ohio. Additionally, proximity to the car crazy haven of California means lots of events to see and lots of great people to meet.
The first major car event I’ve attended since moving here occurred over the weekend. For one week in August, Reno explodes with hot rod and muscle car culture. If it’s got an American V8, there was probably at least one of them in the area last weekend. Barrett Jackson was in town, hawking their wares (or more appropriately, the wares of others), there was a giant swap meet down at the fairgrounds, and there were major events at all of the casinos in town.
Because I wanted to get in and see all of the good deals, I got up before sunrise to hit the swap meet. Sure, I wasn’t looking for anything in particular, and I don’t really have a project car currently in progress as my Mustang is currently on the back burner, but it’s in my nature to go to swap meets early in the morning. It’s always a nice feeling to walk the lot with a fresh coffee in hand, fondling parts you’ve never seen before, and haggling for the last fifty cents. Yeah, okay, so I only walked out with a handful of vintage hotwheels and a 1965 issue of Car and Driver, but I still had fun.
Aside from the stacks and racks of parts, there were hundreds of cars on display for sale. Many of them were probably overpriced, due to the nature of the event, but there were a few that were extreme bargains in my eyes.
An early 1964 ½ Mustang with the F-code 260ci V8 was $15,000 when I arrived, and marked down to 12K by noon.
A gorgeous-but-for-the-wheels real deal Viper ACR was for sale, listed without a price, but said “needs to be gone this weekend” on the windshield.
I fell head over heels for this Falcon wagon. Sure, it was just a straight six car with a 3 speed manual, but how cool would this look dressed up as a vintage parts delivery car?
The bargain of the show, however, was this gigantic flatbed work truck. How can you beat this beast for 700 dollars?
While I was around town for most of the day sighting American muscle and vintage hot rods, it wasn’t until after dark when the real good stuff came out of the woodwork. It wasn’t a particularly hot day by Northern Nevada standards, but I imagine driving around in a hot car with no air conditioning for the day wasn’t considered fun by many. The real show was downtown Reno, running right down the main drag under the famous “Reno Arch”.
The Barrett Jackson sponsored “parade of champions” through downtown Reno was surely a sight to see. There were hundreds of cars revving, throttle blipping, flame throwing, and rumbling down the strip from sundown to about 10:30. Vintage cars originally assembled prior to and including 1969 were eligible to cruise and be judged. The top five adjudicated cars entered were awarded prize money with 20 grand going to the victor, down to 600 dollars for fifth. The winner, without a doubt, was Troy Trepanier (of Rad Rods by Troy fame) with his 1969 Ford Torino. The car was phenomenally prepared, sounded like thunder, and looked just as good as one could expect a car to look when it’s prepared by Rad Rods.
Elsewhere in the parade, there was a fire spitting truck, slow-motion riders three wheeling in 60s Impalas, and even a few vintage European car owners with a whole lot of balls to show up to an event like this.
There were more Mustangs, Camaros, Corvettes, Chevelles, Falcons, and Novas than I’ve ever seen in one place, and I’ve been to many Midwestern Wal-Marts, so that’s saying something. In all, Hot August Nights was an interesting way to spend a weekend, and I look forward to it coming back even bigger next year.