Inaugural 2023 CLASSICS WITH THE CARDINALS SHOW in Santa Barbara, CA met and beat all expectations. CGC’s Jim Palam showcases the highlights.

2023 CLASSICS WITH THE CARDINALS SHOWLocal car shows sure took a hit when Covid kicked-in back in 2020. Already a challenge to organize and produce with limited resources, the future for these Car Guy celebrations was looking somewhat bleak – even for shows in famous destination cities like Santa Barbara, CA. When I got an invitation to attend a new car show there, I almost took a pass – and that would have been a big mistake.

turned out to be one of the more enjoyable car shows I’ve attended in 2023. Over 200 classics, including hot rods, musclecars, sports cars and specialty vehicles, were carefully spread out on the sprawling Bishop Diego High School athletic field in Santa Barbara. There was plenty of walkable space around each of the show cars – and just about every car was a head-turner – like Orwin and Alma-Rose Middleton’s quintessential ’32 Ford Highboy, top. As I soon discovered, the affable Middletons and their charismatic pooches were just as popular as their classic hot rod – and easily earned the lead photo position for this report.

All proceeds from the 2023 CLASSICS WITH THE CARDINALS SHOW benefit the athletic programs at Bishop Diego High School. Established in 1959 in Goleta, CA, the school is named for Bishop Francisco García Diego y Moreno, the first bishop of the Diocese of the Two Californias. Sports teams include cross-country, JV football, golf, tennis, volleyball, track & field, basketball, baseball, softball, swimming, and water polo.

There are hundreds of car clubs in California, including racing clubs, owner’s groups, and cruising clubs. “Clique” is a Santa Barbara Lowrider Club that brought a number a cool rides and a big tent to the Cardinals show. When I asked them what principles they followed when building their “Hopping & Dancing” cars, they mistook my question as a request to see one of their cars in action. Next thing I knew, club member Joey was in his ’64 Chevy firing up the hydraulic actuator. The result was a bit shocking and I captured the demonstration on my iPhone. To check it out, go to  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aNPyDGa18_g

The BMW i8 was a plug-in hybrid sports car that was first released in Germany in 2014 and marketed as a separate BMW brand. Even though global sales of the i8 and its variants exceeded 20,000 units, its production run ended in 2020, ostensibly because it no longer fit into BMW’s long-term strategy of an all-electric fleet. I believe owner Tim Tremblay of Santa Barbara actually won this ‘16 i8, which was on the 2023 CLASSICS WITH THE CARDINALS SHOW show field.

2023 CLASSICS WITH THE CARDINALS SHOWGeorge Stark proudly identifies his fabulous ’67 Ford Fairlane GT as a “One of One” special-order musclecar. Here’s his math on the calculation: Of the 255,952 ‘67 Fairlanes, 18,663 were Fairlane GT 2-Door Hardtops. Of them 13,681 came with 390-4V engines. 5,063 of those had 4-speed manual transmissions. 1,149 of them were painted Candy Apple Red, of which 464 had red vinyl bucket seats. Of those 211 were equipped with consoles. 57 of them came with tachometers. Of these 2 were produced with heavy-duty suspension. 1 of those had the Courtesy Light Group. VIN number 7K42S103406 (this car) is that Fairlane!

If you’ve read my reports in the past you probably know I love the look of Pre-Polypropylene-dressed motors. You know, those 1950s to 1970- era, high-performance factory motors that weren’t yet clad in plastic parts and shrouds. Not surprisingly, Numbers Man George Starks’s ’67 Ford Fairlane GT is powered by a 390-inch, 320 horsepower, 10.5 compression V8 topped off with a big Holley four-barrel. Factory chrome air cleaner lid and valve covers add a nice contrast to the Ford royal blue engine paint.

Domino’s Pizza founder Tom Monaghan commissioned Tritan Ventures, Inc. to build ten, economical pizza delivery vehicles for a pilot program in Ann Arbor, MI in 1985. The designers were James and Douglas Amick. This jet nose 1984 Tritan A2 is owned by Chuck and Melissa Sinnot of Arroyo Grande, CA, and is powered by a 440cc Syvaro (AKA Savkel) SP-440 rotary (Wankel Type) engine. This car is VIN number 005 and is one of only 2 known Tritans to be still running today.

This drool-worthy, folding-windshield ’54 Austin Healy 100/4 is an imposter. Pop the bonnet and the trickster’s truth is revealed: power comes from a Chevy 283 V8 fed by an Edelbrock 500-cfm carb and a Flamethrower 2-coil electronic ignition system. Motor is mated to a 5-speed Chevy Camaro gearbox delivering power to a 9-inch Ford rear. The car’s full-size spare has been cleverly repositioned up on a sill that punches slightly into the cockpit to accommodate a custom 17-gallon fuel tank. This classic’s road grip is tenacious thanks in part to adjustable aluminum QA1 rear coil-over shocks. John Shockley is the lucky owner.

2023 CLASSICS WITH THE CARDINALS SHOWGrowing up in New York City I had little need for a pickup truck. It wasn’t until I moved to the Santa Ynez Horse, Cow & Grapes Valley in California that I started to appreciate light and heavy-duty trucks – and hybrid vehicles like classic Ford Rancheros and Chevy El Caminos. When I spotted Terry Collins’ Shadow Gray ‘60 El Camino I was stopped in my tracks. It’s an impeccable Resto Mod that displays Terry’s obsession with building a stand-alone classic. Power is from a Jegs 350 Chevy small-block crate motor hooked to a custom 3-speed with overdrive transmission. It’s unlikely its art-piece wood bed has ever held a hay bale or slurpy-tongued ranch dog!

2023 CLASSICS WITH THE CARDINALS SHOWI’m guessing a lot of automotive enthusiasts have a Ford Bronco story. Perhaps some are similar to mine which begins with the words “Holy Hay-Hauler! That Bronco just sold for six-figures at Barrett-Jackson!” Yep, these first-gen Broncos (1966-1977) are still fetching top-dollar, and some of the resto-modded ones – like Scott Ramsey’s Deep Navy ’66 – are the outliers that are pulling six figures and messing with Hagerty valuations. However you look at it or calculate it, this Bronc’s bitchin’! It’s tough, it’s beautiful – and it needs to be in my driveway.

I remember a time not so long ago when a “kit car” would get little respect at car shows. That all changed when Cobra Kit Cars and Continuation models, affordable replicas of original Shelby Cobras, became available. Some of the most popular came from Contemporary Motors, ERA Replica Automobiles, Superformance, Shelby, Everett-Morrison Automobiles, Backdraft Racing, and Factory Five. This high-quality, sexy, Carmine Red ’65 Factory Five 427 MkIV Roadster Cobra replica displayed at the 2023 CLASSICS WITH THE CARDINALS SHOW is owned by Bob Feitt of Santa Barbara.

The nice thing about local car shows is that you will usually see a fairly diverse cross-section of the collector car world. Not everyone can afford a Ferrari 250 GTO or Ford GT40. BUT… if you play your “Collector” cards right, you just might find yourself behind the wheel of a pretty cool head-turner – like Scott Hedrick’s turquoise and white ’61 Nash Metropolitan. Yeah, it’s not going to do 0-60 in 2,8 sec like a Koenigsegg Agera RS, but it can get up to 60 mph if you’re patient and not on deadline. What’s the Big Hurry anyway?

Behind the wheel is automotive blogger and enthusiast Frank Nesta, who purchased this British Racing Green ‘62 Morgan 4/4 LeMans TT Special from Dr. Ron DiSalvo, prior to Ron’s passing. It’s an awesome, aluminum body Tribute car built in Tokyo in 2004 by Morgan Japan in association with Morgan Auto Iwase Ltd. Frank considers this a re-bodied car using factory parts. Under the bonnet is a 150 horsepower 4-cylinder Ford Kent Crossflow engine mated to a Ford 5-speed manual transmission. Weighing in at around 1,300 pounds, this hearty right-hand-drive roadster no doubt delivers a brilliant driving experience.

There wasn’t a big display of two-wheel vehicles at the 2023 CLASSICS WITH THE CARDINALS SHOW, but the three machines in this photo are fabulous!  While I don’t personally have much time on a scooter, my choice of what to ride first would be this beautiful blue Lambretta. Now to be fair,  2023 CLASSICS WITH THE CARDINALS SHOW was billed as a “car show” – and they certainly delivered a great one.

Did someone request a limo? Well, the Cardinals got you covered. Entrepreneur John DeRoy of Newbury Park delivers a unique experience as he delivers you and your entourage to and from your destination. Investing some sweat equity into his limo venture, John sourced ‘92 Carbodies London Taxi, swapped out its tired motor for a new diesel, added some limo-level comforts, painted it white, and headed out onto the Party Time Highway. I’m not sure if the driver wears a Bowler hat. Seems like the proper thing to do.

Words & Photos © Jim Palam, https://www.jimpalamphotos.com/

For more information on the CLASSICS WITH THE CARDINALS SHOW, please visit https://classicswiththecardinals.org/

Check out Bishop Diego High School, Santa Barbara, CA @https://www.bishopdiego.org/