Call it a happy accident, but this month we feature two cars that competed head-to-head as finalists for the coveted Street Machine of the Year award at the Goodguys Nationals in Columbus this past July. Goodguys’ annual Street Machine of the Year (SMOY) competition is arguably the most prestigious competition for Pro Touring cars anywhere, and in any given year there is plenty of stiff competition, lots of prognostication, and just enough controversy to set you on the edge of your seat!
SMOY is traditionally a breeding ground for experimentation, with builders trying out new ideas in the hopes that judges and showgoers will like their take on a particular theme. The two SMOY finalists in this issue—the Gurney-Westlake–inspired ’69 Mustang from the Pure Vision skunkworks and the high-tech circuit-themed ’67 Nova of the Roadster Shop—have very specific influences that give them distinct aesthetics, yet they are both firmly in Pro Touring territory.
It’s amazing that two cars can be so utterly different while accomplishing the same take-no-prisoners performance. The Roadster Shop Nova has a captivating number of details that are as intriguing as they are functional. Your eye darts over the surface playfully, searching for familiar forms, but finding clever differences. There is such an abundance of textures and shapes that you find it nearly impossible to avoid touching the thing. There’s so much stuff going on that you feel like a kid on an Easter egg hunt. The Easter Bunny has hidden the goods, but not so well that it isn’t fun! You can gawk at the Roadster Shop Nova with your 10-year-old son, and both of you will be slack-jawed as you ogle the three-dimensional grille, the cold-air intake ducts on the hood, and the Euro-inspired HID headlights.
Pure Vision’s Anvil Mustang goes as far to the side of subtlety as the Roadster Shop Nova goes to flamboyancy. As you take the measure of the Anvil Mustang, its smooth, comfortable styling will leave you feeling as though you’ve known it forever. It’s utterly different, yet wonderfully familiar. Getting the most out of the Anvil Mustang requires a certain knowledge of Ford’s storied past, with its Gurney-Westlake Eagle wheels, gold pinstripe tires, and cantilever suspension a tip of the hat to open-wheeled exploits of the late ’60s. Likewise, the Kaase Boss ’9 under the hood pays homage to Ford’s NASCAR heritage. It all blends seamlessly together in such a convincing way that you’ll be daydreaming about an alternate universe in which such a car could’ve been raced. This is a car that compliments its admirers for being smart enough to “get it.”
When the dust settled, the SMOY judges chose the Roadster Shop “Innovator” Nova. It was a hard choice, because at this level of car building there are no losers. Having been a judge in past years, I don’t envy their task so I’m happy to leave it to them! The other three finalists were equally remarkable in their theme and execution. All of them will seed DIY gearheads with ideas that will trickle down months or years later, such as in cars like Tom Farrington’s homebuilt ’66 Chevelle, also seen in this issue.
Yeah, we know only a few lucky folks can afford to have a SMOY-quality car built for them, but you get so much more out of it if you can set aside the checkbook and see the car itself. Should somebody hate a Rembrandt painting just because a rich guy owns it? For every guy like that, there’s some dirt-poor art student admiring it and trying his best to beat it. I can tell you as a matter of fact that regular guy Tom Farrington isn’t holding a grudge against this year’s SMOY winner—he’s trying to harvest the best ideas he’s seen in his travels, mix them in his own brew, and build the best car he can with his limited resources.
It’s amazing that two cars can be so utterly different while accomplishing the same take-no-prisoners performance.