Sometimes things don't go exactly as planned, but work out in the end. I got the word from Editor Kev that I would be shooting the NSRA event in Knoxville on my long trip across country in my '66 Econoline. My trip from Long Beach to Georgia had gone off without a hitch, so I was confident I'd have plenty of time and easygoing miles to get to the Knoxville event to get the lowdown on what the southeast had to offer. We set out to go north Friday, when confidence in my ride ended with a bump and screeching as a rear wheel bearing let loose on me on the highway. In the middle of nowhere and about three hours from the show, I decided it was time to call AAA and get into Chattanooga where I might be able to find a shop or parts to fix the bearing.

Once in Chattanooga I was able to find help from a brother of a brother who turned out to be my brother. Thanks to social media I soon got a call from Kevin Gill, a local hot rodder telling me he was at my disposal. In an hour he and P Paw from the Road-ents Car Club were at my hotel and making calls with me, finding parts and looking for shops. Parts were found by way of NAPA, who always impress me, but a shop with a press for the bearing was still a huge problem. After an hour of calling I get a call from the marketing director at Coker Tire. He had seen on Instagram that I was in his hometown and in need of a little help from Honest Charley's Garage. Greg at Coker took the time out of his weekend to come down and open the shop to a hot rodder in need. It goes to show that the hot rod community is super small and almost everyone is willing to lend a hand when we're in need. Thanks guys!

This was just the beginning though; we still had to make it to Knoxville! So by 9 a.m., with the axles back in the van and the wheels tight, the white lines of the highway were calling. We hit Knoxville and were in the show before noon. I wasn't prepared for what I was going to see. The turnout was in the thousands of cars, and the grounds where the show was held seemed to go on forever around the lakes and hills! Power parking the candy-colored van was a bit of a trick, but here we were, and coverage for our loyal readers I must get. The turnout was way larger than I had expected, it took the entire two days to walk the show and see everything. There were all sorts of cars, as it was an NSRA event, so we saw anything from a stock '36 phaeton to a lifted '71 El Camino, and everything in between. The thing I couldn't get was it seemed that '51 Ford Victorias seemed to be normal here. I know they are superrare, but here there had to have been five or more sprinkled throughout. So this is where they've been hiding all this time!

I was here for the coverage and to get the Fab 5 for y'all, so off I marched to see what I could see and make some new friends, totally charged up from the morning's good deeds. Everyone I met in Knoxville was super nice; it made me long to be in the South again. Everyone seemed to have the time to BS a little and have a good time while hanging out on such a lovely day in the park, telling me all the stories that surround their cars and lives with their cars.


Coker Tire presents the Rod & Custom Fab 5 at the NSRA Street Rod Nats South Plus

Ben Smithson
Toney, Alabama
1932 Chevrolet coupe

Ben Smithson's '32 Chevrolet is homebuilt using the body from an old dirt track racer, now chopped 3 inches and channeled 4 inches over a handbuilt frame. The dual quad-fed small-block is a 0.030-inch overbored 327 with a solid-lift cam. A T56 transmission sends the horses back to a triangulated four-link-suspended 9-inch Ford rearend with 4.56:1 gears. The 15x5 and 15x7 chrome steelies wear 5.60- and 8.20-15 Firestone rubber respectively, while the interior features white-painted metal floor and door cards to match the white and green upholstery and white chassis and suspension.

Larry Price
Ashland, Kentucky
1951 Henry J

Larry Price brought his "Short Circuit" Henry J down from Kentucky. Those fenderwell headers attach to a big-block Chevy, with the rest of the drivetrain consisting of a TH400 and 9-inch rear on leaf springs and box-section ladder bars. He mounted a straight-axle with disc brakes up front on parallel leaf springs and added Cragar five-spokes at each corner, the rears in radiused wheelwells. Inside there's a B&M ratchet shifter, fire extinguisher, and dash-mounted tach, though don't think it's all bare racer-style, as it's fully upholstered with front and rear seats!

Bob Ross
Hanahan, South Carolina
1932 Ford coupe

Bob Ross drove in from South Carolina with his just-repainted Deuce three-window. Not long changed from red, he was keen to mention The Bird shot the new paint, with pinstriping by Edweird. Steelies with caps 'n' rings are wrapped in Coker wide whitewalls, 165 front and 235 in the rear. Inside, a biscuit colored interior boasts a banjo steering wheel and a six-gauge finned dash insert—the dash matched by a similar panel below, housing the A/C. More fins are to be found under the four-piece hood, on the valve covers, and air cleaner.

Jim Stalsworth
Maryville, Tennessee
1932 Ford coupe

Jim Stalsworth's chopped '32 five-window is resplendent in Regency Purple, a color from Ford's 1955 color charts, and doesn't it just suit the curves of a '32? The gray tinted windows hide a black interior, while behind the four rows of louvers in each hood side panel sits an Edelbrock-dressed 350 Chevy, backed by a TH350. Keeping the wheels centered in the rear fenders is an 8-inch Ford rearend. Speaking of wheels, both rims and wide whitewall rubber were sourced from our Fab 5 sponsor, Coker Tire, measuring 165 in front and 235 out back.

Cliff Dyer
Spencer, Massachusetts
1936 Ford coupe

Cliff Dyer is clearly not afraid to drive his 3-inch chopped '36 three-window, as not only did he drive from Massachusetts to Tennessee for this event, but he drove it to Bonneville for Speed Week in 2010. A 350/350 combo underhood keeps things reliable on those long trips, while a red and black tuck 'n' roll interior, with a banjo 'wheel within easy reach, makes for comfortable cruising.