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NSRA Southeast Nationals (Day 1)

Cooler weather means perfect weather for the first day

Andy Bolig - October 14, 2011 09:54 PM

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Vendors were set up inside the air conditioned main hall.

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There were many variations of engines for sale in the swap meet. If you were looking for a flathead, this one from a ’40 Merc was waiting for a new owner.

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Speaking of Mercurys and variations of engines, this ’68 Mercury Cyclone featured a 4.6L mod motor with an overdrive auto transmission.

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If you were looking for a modern engine to update your particular ride, there was a truck-full of them just waiting for you.

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If you’re more traditional, this early 354 Chrysler Hemi would suffice nicely.

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One of the services that the NSRA provides is the 23-point safety inspection. This is a free service to attendees and today, we noted this ’36 Cord Westchester owned by Bill and Peggy Baden going through the regimen of inspection. With an emphasis on driving these cars, the inspection service primarily evaluates areas of safety, or concerns, on the cars that are inspected. The Cord now features a Ram-Jet small block Chevy for power.

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One of the more interesting cars at the event was this 1931 Twin Coach Stand & Drive delivery truck. It was initially built to haul door-to-door deliveries of baked goods but now, hauls the mail with Steve and Marsha DeWeese at the helm.

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Enthusiast Art LaBelle, from Spring Hill, FL has owned this ’34 Chevy for 18 years. It now utilizes a ’71 vintage inline six with a TH350 transmission. It looks like it would be a blast to drive!

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Bob Shukert called all enthusiasts to task with his window sign that read, “I drove 1050 miles to be here. I did 100% of this rebuild. I’ve driven over 10,000 miles since last year… how about you?” He just completed the drive down from his home in Maryland in this car and, he pulled his boat behind it! It has a 300hp 327 engine and a TH350 trans. Not hard to believe that the tall trophy in front of his car is a long-distance award from another event.

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There were some unexpected twists with these two trucks. The orange ‘46 Chevy now has a Mercedes diesel engine from an ’87 300 SDL and 4-speed auto transmission in it. Owner Toby Piner told us that he has put over 12,000 miles on this truck last year. While he kept the outside draped in “patina”, underneath the oxidation is a TCI independent front suspension, and a 9-inch Ford rear. Putting miles on this hauler is made easier with the cruise control, air-conditioning and power disc brakes. The truck gets around 27-32 highway miles per gallon of the heavy fuel.

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The Hot Rod & Street Rod Association of Argentina was on hand to check out the cars in attendance and share the enthusiasm with others, even though their cars might be in their garages, thousands of miles away.

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It was good to see the various styles and genres of autos mingling over the fairgrounds and by accepting them for their cool factor and not the date of manufacture

Many enthusiasts anticipate the arrival of the National Street Rod Association’s Southeast Nationals for many reasons, one of which is that it typically occurs about the same time as the cooler weather arrives in the southern tip of the country.

This year was no different. Attendees were greeted with cooler weather and some very cool cars as well. This year marks the 24th year that this event has been held in Tampa. As the cars began to flow into the fairgrounds, it became obvious that the NSRA’s limitations of “street rod” (autos built before 1949) attendance had been lifted and autos from the 50s, 60s and 70s were welcome at this event. It was good to see the various styles and genres of autos mingling over the fairgrounds and by accepting them for their cool factor and not the date of manufacture, there was a much broader market opened up for those hoping to sell items or purchase them.

There were many opportunities during this first day of the event for both buyers and sellers. The early birds were scouring the swap meet early in hopes of finding that much-needed part to complete their rides. If attendees were still searching for a solace from the Florida sun, they were more than welcome to peruse the vendor area that was set up inside one of the air conditioned halls or visit with fellow enthusiasts who secured spots underneath the tree-lined grassy area nearby.

We noted a common theme among many of the enthusiasts that we spoke with during the day. Many folks that we spoke with about their cars told us about how long they’ve owned their particular rides with some relationships spanning over 20 years! Of course, like any relationship, there have been changes, but they’re still happily united with their cars and enjoying them as much, or more, than ever!

The enthusiasm that permeated the show field was evident. Some enthusiasts drove great distances with their cars and other enthusiasts, like the Hot Rod & Street Rod Association of Argentina, who traveled specifically to share their enthusiasm, even if their cars weren’t in attendance. The seventeen members of this group shared the common language of their enthusiasm through wild paint and muscular exhaust tones.

As the day wore down, a colorful flow of cars started back to their hotel rooms and dinner reservations for the evening. Surely to get a good night’s rest in preparation for another day of fun in the sun.

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