Best Ford in a Ford
Gary McCormick East Peoria, IL'49 Ford woodie
Celebrating the 41st Anniversary of the NSRA Street Rod Nationals, it was the perfect time for STREET RODDER and Ford Racing to recognize street rodders who install a late-model Ford engine in their Ford.

With this being the first year for post-'48 era cars to cruise the fairgrounds, our search led us to Gary McCormick of East Peoria, Illinois, with his freshly completed '49 Ford wagon powered by a 351ci Ford Racing crate V-8 linked to a Ford AOD transmission. To give the car a great stance, its original chassis was massaged and updated with a polished stainless Heidts IFS while a 9-inch rear by John's Industries transfers the power. Once the body was razor sharp it was coated with plenty of PPG Mack Truck Green to give it a fine vibe, while the exterior wood was completed at Wood by Whiskers. Inside the car was treated to yards of buttersoft leather by Steve and Marilyn Ralfs. A combined effort, the woody came together through the hard work of Ken's Street Rod Repair in Rockford, Illinois, and Gray's Garage in Metamora, Illinois. Congratulations to Gary who will receive a limited edition jacket as an award winner.

Best Ford in a Ford
Chuck Gray, Metamora, IL '32 Ford Victoria
While canvassing the event, Chuck Gray's '32 Ford Vicky from Metamora, Illinois, caught our attention with its well-detailed Ford 302ci crate V-8 linked to a Ford C4 transmission. Chuck's well-traveled Ford has an original chassis updated by Everett Gray to include a polished stainless Heidts IFS and a narrowed Jaguar rearend with plenty of plating and polish. An original steel body was massaged to perfection by the owner who also laid down the vivid PPG Sonic Blue coating complemented by alluring graphics by Bob Thrash. Classic Halibrand wheels shod with BFGoodrich rubber keeps everything stylish while inside an ididit column, Lokar shifter, and VDO gauges help Chuck settle into plenty of comfort as he heads down the road. Congratulations to Chuck who will receive a limited edition jacket as an award winner.

Celebrating the 70th Anniversary of the '40 Ford
This was the year we celebrated one of Ford's truly memorable designs with the '40 Ford turning 70 years old. Recognized as one of the notable iconic sculptures to roll off the Ford production line, it shared its good looks with a myriad of body styles. Throughout the weekend at the Nationals, we came across countless examples of the model with everything from bone-stockers to candy-coated chopped coupes, pickup trucks, slammed sedans, and drop-tops making the scene. One thing is for sure, this beloved design has certainly earned its place in history.

Street Rod Plus
Sometimes more is better-when it's sheetmetal
This is a pivotal year for the National Street Rod Association as they adopt the sliding scale dates to all events. From this day forward if you have a car 30 years or older you are welcomed at the Street Rod Nationals Plus. And if you happen to be driving a car manufactured in 1949 or newer you are officially considered a Plus, a term that seems to indicate something positive, or at least in addition to.

After attending 39 out of the 41 Street Rod Nationals I felt the only way to truly experience this historic event would be to drive a "Plus", leaving the '40 pickup in the garage and driving my '57 Ranch wagon to the event. Of course the fact that the '57 Ford is now 53 years old and when I drove my '31 Model A to the Nats in 1972 when it was a mere 41 years old was not lost on me, and yet I was still driving "a late-model" or as NSRA calls them-a Plus.