for your iPhone
for your iPad
Other Articles

Cameras, Radar, Laser, Oh My!

Are new cars just too good?

2007 Special Corvettes

2007 Detroit Auto Show photos

Satisfying man-urges with a Lotus clone.....

World Car of the Year: 2006 Winners

Ferrari 15,000 Red Miles - Tour of China

Scenes from 55th Concours D'Elegance

Diesel: Friend or Foe

Scenes from 2005 Detroit Car Show (NAIAS)

Tweel: Michelin lets the air out of future tire innovation

500 HP Corvette C6 Z06 Photos and Specifications

Cheating: inside look at NASCAR

The American Mercedes

A return of the Muscle Car wars?

New 2005 Corvette C6 photos and specs

Scenes from the 2004 Detroit International Auto Show

Take 2 Toyota PM and call me in the morning

New BMW 6 Series Convertible

Mercedes debuts innovative paint

Dodge unleashes 500 HP Viper powered Dodge RAM Pickup

The venerable pushrod engine

Where did all the carburetors go?

Technical specifications of Mazda RX-8

Mazda RX-8 poster

Ford GTB Poster

CART Mustang Pace Car poster

2003 Toyota Atlantic Poster

2003 CART Poster

Don't throw away that used cooking grease - How to turn cooking grease into fuel

The new MINI Cooper

Driving a Winston Cup stock car

Honda S2000, One foot over the line?

What does HP have to do with horses

2001 Mercedes CLK55 AMG

69 Shelby Mustang Cobra

2000 Porsche BoxsterS

2000 Plymouth Prowler

2000 Toyota Tundra


Advertisement

Collector Cars: Live from Mecum Des Moines

by Stephen Cox
Sunday, July 22, 2012

Advertisement

1970 Ford Mustang Sidewinder Special
Okay, I'm sitting in my hotel room after the auction jamming to Heart (“Crazy on You”) and it occurs to me how much I love the Mecum Auto Auction held in Des Moines.

Every year we wonder if the Des Moines show will be axed from the network lineup because it generally features low end collector cars, and every year I'm grateful when it returns. I have a soft spot for these cars.

The fact is that very few people will ever be able to own a Yenko Camaro or an original Shelby Cobra. And if they did, they'd be afraid to drive it.

There is a place in the collector car world for entry-level cars that real people can afford. The mid-70's Corvettes and early C4's may be underpowered and unappreciated, but they allow a new generation of Corvette lovers to join an elite circle of proud owners. These cars serve a purpose. They are a step on the ladder.

1955 Ford Fairlane
We had a rusty '66 Mustang with a 200 CID straight six and a bad paint job cross the block tonight. The collector car snobs snickered, but I was happy to see someone walk away with their dream car for less than $9,000. A cheap V8 built in their garage and some homemade body work and paint won't make it a priceless classic, but it will give someone a head-turning hot rod that they can drive with pride.

These are hard times. The remnant of America's middle class is at the breaking point and every failed tidal wave of monopoly money printed by a clueless Fed fails to promote genuine recovery.

For the remaining few who still have some measure of disposable income, these affordable muscle cars are a bonanza. They bring fathers and sons together for family projects. Husbands and wives take them to the drive-in theater on date night. They are the platforms upon which average people build their dreams.

The simple fact is that for 9 out of 10 Americans, a rusty '66 Mustang is the only Shelby GT 500 they'll ever own.

We do a great disservice to the collector car world when we leave behind those who are struggling to join it.

I confess that I have very little patience for collector car snobs. Des Moines and its entry-level clunkers belong on the schedule and I hope we keep going there for many years to come.

So anyways.

1970 Ford Mustang Sidewinder Special
I had a barrel of fun tonight when a 1970 Ford Mustang Sidewinder Special crossed the block. The Sidewinder is like Big Foot... everybody's heard of them but no one has actually ever seen one.

The Sidewinder is uber-controversial because no one even knows how to identify them. Most people consider them a dealer special, when it appears that they were actually a brief promotional option offered by Ford that only a handful of people ordered.

Wanna know how tough it is to determine just what comprises a Mustang Sidewinder Special? Okay, here we go.

Nobody is sure just where they were sold. Iowa and Nebraska seem to be the leading candidates.

The car's decals were delivered in a box stored in the trunk to be applied by the dealer (you don't see that every day). Otherwise, there was very little to indicate if Ford intended the car to be a Sidewinder Special or not.

Midyear Corvette
Who's to say that the dealership didn't sell the car without the decals, or stick them on another car by customer request? Don't laugh. That stuff happened.

Most Sidewinder Specials are rumored to have a 351 engine with a cruise-o-matic transmission, but the one that sold in Des Moines tonight had a 4-speed... complete with Hurst badges on the fender!

Was it genuine? Probably. Can anyone prove it? Nope. If you don't know what it is, how would you know if you had one?

Even Kevin Marti, the internationally recognized Ford guru who authors the famed “Marti Report,” could find very little in official Ford records to specify what, precisely, defines a Mustang Sidewinder Special. I'm sure to receive a boatload of emails claiming specific facts on the car, but frankly, if Kevin Marti can't figure it out the rest of us mortals should tread carefully. 

It was a hoot watching all the Ford buyers scratch their heads and try to figure out what to pay for something they'd never seen before. Eventually they settled on 30 grand but nobody new why.

I compared notes with Mecum's own amazing car expert, John Kraman, and we still couldn't fill in all the blanks. And you know what? I'm perfectly satisfied not knowing everything about the Ford Mustang Sidewinder Special.

It's like a kid waking up on Christmas morning and wondering how the presents got under the tree. If you really knew, it wouldn't be fun anymore.

See you in Monterey.

Feedback can be sent to feedback@autoracing1.com

Go to our forums to discuss this article