It's no secret the Goodguys PPG Nationals is a huge event. With roughly 6,000 vehicles rolling through the gates of the Ohio Expo Center in Columbus every July, the show has quickly become one of the largest hot rod and custom gatherings in the country, and the biggest get-together on the Goodguys calendar. Fortunately for all who attend, there's more to this show than just its size, though. A positive vibe and a laid-back atmosphere are equally important elements in making this one of the summer's hottest happenings.
Just like real estate, location seems to be a key component to the Goodguys Nats' success, since Columbus is within easy driving distance to many Eastern, Southern, and Midwest population bases. Beyond that, the expansive fairgrounds are well suited for both cruisin' and parking, even if there is a shortage of shade. There's also plenty of space-indoors and outside-for the hundreds of vendors who participate, as well as those who take part in the swap meet. After official show hours are over, the Marriott host hotel parking lot (as well as many others) becomes a show unto itself, with lots of cruisin' and showin' off on the surrounding streets.
But the biggest reason most enthusiasts (including us) keep returning to Columbus summer after summer is the sheer volume and outstanding quality of the cars that show up. This year's 9th annual Nats, held July 7-9, was no exception. Sure, a lot of the vehicles were "regulars"-cars we can count on seeing each year. But there were also hundreds of new machines generating the sort of buzz and enthusiasm we've come to expect in Columbus. And the event's long-standing 1972 cutoff date ensured a variety of build styles-customs, rods, restos, musclecars, street machines, and trucks.
Those of us in the Primedia editorial offices always like to compare notes and discuss trends after big events like Columbus. The consensus this year is that post-'48 customs and musclecars might have actually outnumbered pre-'49 street rods for the first time. Hot-rodded pickups and '50s and '60s station wagons were very well represented too. We also continued to notice street rod and custom influences in vehicles vying for the Goodguys Street Machine of the Year award. It's worth noting that the winner, an outstanding '71 Cuda owned by Bob Johnson, was built by well-known street rod craftsman Alan Johnson, and probably had more one-off, fabricated parts than most traditional customs.
Peruse the accompanying snapshots from our trip and you'll begin to understand why we dig going to Columbus every summer. It's hard to do justice to the sheer quantity and quality of vehicles at the Nats, though-that's something you need to experience for yourself. So why don't you mark it on your calendar for 2007 and make a point to go. You'll be glad you did.