PUNTA GORDA — It may have been the National Street Rod Association’s Appreciation Day, but the 200 cars displayed at Rick Treworgy’s Muscle Car City Museum parking lot Saturday ranged from classic antiques to hot rods, and street rods to muscle cars.
The variety was a welcome sight, according to Cape Coral resident Larry Day, South Florida representative of the National Street Rod Association.
“Every owner has a little different taste,” he said. “(Custom car building) allows freedom of expression.”
He also pointed out the NSRA, which has some 70,000 members nationwide, doesn’t require its members to even own a car, let alone a street rod.
“It’s open to everybody,” he said.
To many, the differences are “almost blurred,” anyway, Day acknowledged.
To enthusiasts, however, “hot rod” refers to the way old-school mechanics back in the ’50s and ’60s would take a 1920s or ’30s car, strip off its fenders, put bigger tires on the back, and plunk in a V-8 engine from a later model, Day explained.
As enthusiasts matured, they came up with “street rods,” which are models from 1948 or earlier. Their bodies typically are mated to more refined, modern chassis so the cars can be equipped with rack-and-pinion steering, air conditioning and fuel injection.
Of course, “muscle cars” refers to vintage Camaros, GTOs, Mustangs and Chargers.
Day pointed out many show-car aficionados are retirees.
“We’re building and driving the cars we always wanted back in the day,” he said.
The NSRA sponsored the event, to which the Charlotte Classics and Cruisers Club also played host, as part of a monthly car show at the museum’s lot.
The cars on display ranged from a 1963 Rolls Royce Silver Cloud painted in colors so bright they could have been lifted from a Peter Max pop art poster, to a 1965 Volkswagen Beetle that hasn’t seen a paint booth since 1965. Rust naturally had given it the color of Carolina clay.
“I would never ever do anything else to this car — except get it some more rust,” said its proud owner, Kevin Enwright of Port Charlotte.
The car’s rustic patina made it “really interesting” to Frank Gayer of Stuttgart, Germany, who was visiting the show while on holiday with his wife Brigit and their 9-month-old son, Paul.
“And we can see a Beetle every two minutes in Germany,” he said.
However the family was attracted to the muscle cars, something not so common in Germany, he added.
The Gayers are among a growing number of Northern Europeans who flock to the museum each year. Muscle Car City, which has some 200 cars, is one of the biggest muscle car museums in the world.