Twice a year — once in early April and again in early September — Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, turns into Mecca for the car lover. From early street rods to muscle cars to modern machines and just about everything in between, they flock to Pigeon Forge to what is known to most simply as the Pigeon Forge Rod Run.
Over 10,000 cars and trucks converge on the town for the weekend event and pack the streets and every parking spot available with something cool.The event always brings out some of the nicest show cars in the country, and we scoured the town to find our five favorites from the event. Check them out…
5. Restored 1967 Shelby GT500
It is a pretty good sign we have got a solid list for you if a real vintage Shelby GT500 is on the bottom of the list. Even at number five, this is a first class car. Wayne Clemon’s 1967 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 recently completed a rotisserie restoration back to factory specifications.
Painted in its original Nightmist Blue, this is one beautiful pony. Featuring a 428 cubic-inch engine with dual four-barrel carburetors and a four-speed manual transmission, this Shelby leaves nothing to be desired.
Nothing fills an engine bay quite like a big-block Ford and one of those legendary Cobra dual-quad air cleaners! Inside, a five point harnesses keep the driver firmly planted in the seat of this legendary muscle car.
4. 1965 Ford MustangCoupeFastback
OK, we know what your thinking? This is a Fastback? Why does the title say coupe? That is exactly what we were wondering when we first walked up to the car show board for this 1965 Ford Mustang.
Upon investigating a little further we finally got it. This car actually started life as a coupe, but the owner wanted a Fastback. So rather than tossing it out and getting another, usually more expensive, Fastback body, he found a donor roof and made one himself. The fit and finish on this is simply amazing, had we not have known we would have bet money that this car started out as a Fastback.
Once in Fastback form, the car was restored into the amazing piece of art that it is. Heidt’s suspension, Wilwood brakes, a Tremec five-speed transmission, and a 331 stroker round out an impressive drivetrain. The body features several custom touches including smoothed and shortened bumpers, a recessed gas cap, custom front and rear valance and a custom, all-steel hood. The interior was upgraded to that of a 1967 Mustang. A set of 17-inch Cragar wheels finish off the package to create one beautiful Mustang!
When we first saw the show board, we have to admit, we were thinking, "What the..." But this unique creation soon took our breath away and made us forget all about that sign board!
3. Big-Block Galaxie Convertible
It is not an uncommon site to see a big-block Ford Galaxie at your local car show. A 390, 406, or even the legendary 427 are common powerplants. However, the majority of these cars are either hardtops. Monty Seawright’s 1964 Ford Galaxie 500 Convertible is one of just 204 convertibles to come off the assembly line with the 427 engine in 1964.
Painted in a gorgeous factory burgundy hue with a black top, this Galaxie is as stunning as it is rare. The 427 R-code engine is topped with two four-barrel carburetors and was rated at 425 horsepower from the factory. Backed up by a four-speed manual transmission, chances are this Ford muscle car never lost at many stoplight drags back it its day.
Restored to immaculate factory specifications by King Of The Galaxie restorations, Donald Allen. The engine bay alone is a work of art in this car!
2. 1971 Boss 351
The 1971 Boss 351 is often overlooked in the Mustang world. When people think vintage Boss Mustang, they usually go to the 1969 or 1970 Boss 302. Or the legendary Boss 429 Mustangs of the same years. The 1971 Boss 351 however was nothing to be forgotten. In fact, the 1971 actually was over 1 second quicker in 0-60 tests than both the Boss 302 and the Boss 429.
This Boss 351 has been owned by the same family since it was new and recently underwent a ground-up restoration putting the car back to 100-percent factory specs, including all the original assembly-line markings. Being one of only 1,806 351 Boss Mustangs ever made, its great to see one preserved for people to enjoy for years to come.
From vintage Autolite-Ford Parts floor mats to the space-saver spare tire, this Boss 351 has all the little attention to detail pieces to take it to the next level.
1. 1964 Ford Thunderbolt
The Ford Thunderbolt is easily one of the most legendary and iconic Fords of all time. The idea behind the Thunderbolt was simple, take your lightest car, the Ford Fairlane, install your biggest engine, the 427, and remove or go lightweight with as many parts and pieces as possible.
The result was a performance monster. With only 100 Thunderbolts ever built in 1964, getting to see one is always a treat! This particular Thunderbolt is owned by Monty Seawright, the same gentleman who owns the 1964 Galaxie on our top five list.
This Thunderbolt was originally purchased and campaigned by factory Ford driver and Funny Car Pioneer Phil Bonner. The Thunderbolt has been restored to race-day specifications by Donald Allen Restorations and is truly an amazing piece. In a world of wraps, it is refreshing to see a race car that lettered by hand.
Conservatively rated at 425 horsepower, just like in the street cars, these purpose built 427's obviously made much more power than that. Although no one can confirm an exact number, most sources claim actual output was probably closer to 600 horsepower. With compression ratios coming in somewhere around 13.5:1.
The attention to detail and time spent on all this hand lettering is amazing. In a world of decals and wraps, the trade of hand-painting a race car is almost a forgotten art. The artist who lettered this Thunderbolt certainly has not forgotten what art is all about.
Aside from the awesome collection of show cars. The Pigeon Forge Rod Run also features a wide variety of vendors inside and outside the Leconte Center.