2023 MUSCLE CAR AND CORVETTE NATIONALS

Another Year of Fresh GM Muscle at MCACN

By John Machaqueiro   –   Photography by the Author

You know you’re doing something right when an event becomes a bucket list item for many folks, and that is the stature that the Muscle Car and Corvette Nationals (MCACN) has been able to achieve over the years. With its regularly scheduled dates now a foregone conclusion set for the weekend prior to the Thanksgiving holiday at the end of November, the MCACN show continues to offer up a fresh slice of American car culture with an ever-changing selection of automobiles and memorabilia.

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A fresh unveiling at the show, this ’70 L89 Chevelle is owned by Phil Mitchell and was restored by MuscleCar Restoration & Design in Pleasant Plains, Illinois. Originally ordered in September of 1969, during the ordering process the dealer checked off the wrong box and the desired L78 Chevelle showed up two months later wearing L89 spec aluminum heads and an additional $200 price tag. It is believed that only 18 L89 engines were produced, with an estimated nine making their way into Chevelles.

The folks who organize this show have been able to craft a recipe that works year after year with their invitational displays. That defined focus allows them to amass the finest examples of any given vehicle into a cohesive group that is always pure eye candy. By design, the show embraces all brands, so the individual who appreciates a specific manufacturer will also be treated to a broader experience with other brands.

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This ultrarare ’69 Camaro ZL1 that was unveiled during the show is also owned by Phil Mitchell and was restored by Level One Restorations in Arvada, Colorado. It is 1 of 69 built that year with an all-aluminum 427 big-block and heads and is arguably one of the most sought-after muscle cars.

As a primer for the GM folks who walked into the show, in their path was the No. 5 ’62 Bardahl Special Corvette. This car was 1 of 5 factory-backed Corvettes that raced at the 1962 12 Hours of Sebring and was part of the “Corvette Legends Invitational” display at the show.

Check it out: Old-School Chevy Muscle from the Wally Parks Nostalgia Nationals

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As you walk further, a heavy dose of first- and second-gen Camaros were on display throughout the show in various flavors, ranging from unrestored, restored, Day Two, and rough barn find examples. Chevelles and Novas were also prominently featured in various categories as well, while several vintage Chevy-powered racers were grouped into the Nostalgia Pro Stock group.

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Ryan Wagner spent 2½ years building this ’70 Camaro Z28 from a bare shell and is equipped with a 406ci small-block Chevy and M23 Muncie four-speed. Inspiration for this ’70s street machine–flavored second-gen came from the many magazines that he purchased over the years that featured cars with the same vibe.

Another significant display featured the evolution of the Impala showcasing the flexibility that was available by checking off the right boxes when placing an order for one of these cars. The range covered the luxury and performance spectrum of options.

MCACN is also a place to get a Vintage Certification on an original vehicle, and this year there were a few first- and second-gen Camaros, a ’64 Impala SS, a ’66 Chevy II SS, and even a ’75 Vega Cosworth going through the rigorous judging process.

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Michael Gostkiewicz had his ’69 L78 Nova on display at MCACN and it is a true survivor. This was his father’s high school car that was painted about six months after it was purchased new, and it still wears that same paint today. The Nova was raced at several tracks and also saw some show circuit duty in the ’70s.

One of the crowd-favorite displays at the show is the “Barn Finds and Rare Gems” gathering curated by the Auto Archeologist Ryan Brutt. This year’s Chevy offerings came in the form of a very rusty ’68 Camaro RS, a ’61 Impala convertible hidden in a barn for 40 years, and a vandalized ’59 Corvette.

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Missed it?: The 2023 Camaro Nationals

Each year the Corvette display at this show is always rich with some of the finest Corvettes in the country, with the C2 and C3 generations arguably the best represented. It is a mix of high-end quality restorations and survivor cars in all generations.

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Unveiled during the show, this ’23 Camaro built by Nickey Performance is advertised as their Stage III Supercar. The base car starts out as a ZL1 1LE with the A1Z Extreme Performance package and a built-up LT4 that lays down just north of 1,100 horses.

If you’re planning on attending, dates for the 2024 edition have been set for November 23-24, 2024, so set your calendar for another rare muscle car gathering.

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