If you are a fan of super-rare Camaro muscle cars, you often need to search far and wide to view the truly spectacular: the COPOs, the ZL1s, the supercars, and the big-point restored models. However, if you got the memo, the place to be was the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, Illinois (just a few minutes from O’Hare Airport in Chicago), for the big MCACN (Muscle Car and Corvette Nationals) event. Held on the third weekend in November, this has become the most important show of the year for the blue jean millionaires of the car hobby, as well as enthusiasts who already know they will always be shocked by what shows up for the two-day temporary 500-plus car museum.
Long-time auto show administrator Bob Ashton is the show’s co-owner, developer, and manager, and he uses a vast network of personal connections and business resources to draw cars from collections nationwide, many of which are rarely, if ever, seen by the public. The show is held indoors on a Saturday and Sunday schedule and harkens back to the glory days of the large new car “auto show” events. Vehicles are creatively displayed in rings, in rows, in single displays, and in small groupings, interspersed with various restoration shops and businesses.
So, while the focus is on all sorts of muscle cars—a row of Hemi ’Cuda convertibles, a circle of Shelby Cobras and Mustangs, a collection of GTO’s—the 2011 event played host to several groups and single Camaros. Most notable was not one, not 10, but 18 ZL1 Camaros found in the CARS1 Inc-sponsored row, ranging from the first ex-Dick Harrell drag car, now owned by Joe Zrostlik, to versions in every color that was available. Several were on public display for the first time in years, as were a second row of L72 COPO packages nearby.
Then there was the Baldwin-Motion Madness area filled with a variety of authenticated classic Chevrolets from the legendary New York dealership. One ’69 RS Camaro was still sticker-priced at just under 10K (though not for sale today at that amount!), while another was still in the original owner’s possession. Yenko and Nickey models were also on display.
It was not just first-gen cars, either. An area was set aside for a row of ’70 L78 big-blocks, while scattered around the huge confines of the building were various restorations, modifieds, drag cars, showstoppers, and more. With so much emphasis on the latest Camaros at SEMA this year, several show cars featuring the latest body designs were also on hand.
With final details still in the works for the 2012 show, we do know it will be held on November 17-18. And there’s no doubt it will be a great one, as Ashton and his crew have managed to surpass themselves supremely every season. We have heard some cool stuff will be on hand for the 45th anniversary of the ’67 Camaro. Having now witnessed it firsthand, we can definitely repeat those old race ads from the Chicago AM hit music great WLS… “Be There!”