DAYTONA BEACH — Beneath every gleaming fender on the thousands of collectible classic cars jamming the infield at Daytona International Speedway at this year’s spring Turkey Run, there’s a story — often more than one.
For Jack Bussa, 77, of Ormond Beach, the tale of his pristine 1928 Ford Model A Tudor sedan spans 25 years, about the same amount of time he and his wife, B.J., have been regulars at the annual spring and fall Turkey Run car shows in Daytona Beach.
“I first tried to buy it 25 years ago,” said Bussa, among the throng of vintage car lovers who packed the speedway for this year’s Turkey Run, the mammoth car show, swap-meet and vendor showcase that concludes on Sunday.
Unfortunately, the car’s owner at the time wasn’t ready to sell, but Bussa never forgot about the vintage Ford. Finally, two years ago, some 15 years after the owner had died, his son agreed to sell.
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That’s when Bussa’s work began.
“It was in pieces,” he said. “I had a street rod frame made and I worked four or five hours a day pretty much five days a week for two years. I just got it completed in October. I bet I’ve got $40,000 in it and it’s hard to count the time. But it’s mental and physical therapy, that’s what it is.”
The Model A boasts an impeccable forest-green paint job accented by eye-catching bright orange wheel covers. But Bussa left one original quirk intact: an ancient bullet hole in the hood.
“We have no idea how that happened,” he said, “and I guess we’ll never know.”
Turkey Run’s appeal rooted in thousands of cars, parts, accessories
Bussa was among an estimated 150,000-plus classic-car enthusiasts sharing stories and conjuring memories at this year’s Turkey Run, an experience elevated by the rumble of super-charged engines, the faint smell of exhaust fumes and a landscape dotted by dazzling chrome.
In addition to the armada of some 7,000 blinged-out vehicles, the event also offers a formidable midway populated by some 1,500 vendors stocked with almost every imaginable engine part and accessory from chrome exhaust pipes to rubber hoses, electrical wires, wiper blades and antique license plates.
And when car-lovers needed to refuel, the options included an array of culinary treats ranging from grilled sausages and burgers to chocolate-covered bacon.
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At the Chrome Wizard vendor tent, owner Bubba Moon with his two dogs was busy chatting with customers interested in his chrome-plating and metal polishing services. He had traveled to the Turkey Run in his RV from Mount Juliet, Tennessee, making his 14th consecutive trip to the event.
“This is one of the nicer shows,” said Moon, who travels to about a dozen car shows annually throughout the South and along the East Coast. “It’s a very organized show, and I’ve been to some others that are not as organized, that’s for sure. It’s really good for us to get to meet people and advertise our business.”
‘Everyone puts their own stamp’ on classic cars
Out among the classic-cars, the Turkey Run’s appeal is a mixture of nostalgia and a wrench-twister’s appreciation for the power of the machinery.
“I’ve owned race cars for 30 or 40 years and I’ve been working on them since I was a kid,” said Doug Emery, 56, relaxing in a camp chair behind his sky-blue 1958 Anglia, an English car manufactured by Ford. “For me, the attraction is still the mechanical aspects of the cars.”
His tiny Anglia, for instance, has been customized with a powerhouse 355-cubic-inch Chevy engine and an all-aluminum floor panel that reduces the car’s weight to 1,500 pounds.
“It really goes,” said Emery, a snowbird from Syracuse who lives in Port Orange. “That’s what I love about all the cars out here, the innovations that people put into their vehicles. Everyone puts their own stamp on them.”
Across the infield, Beannie Taylor, 70, reveled in the memories elicited by cars such as the jet-black 1967 Dodge Dart GT convertible that he brought to the Turkey Run’s Car Corral. It’s one of only 1,600 or so convertible models of the Dart that Dodge produced that year, he said.
“When you see a car like this, you go back to your younger days, when you were maybe 18 or so,” said Taylor, owner of Beannie’s Motorsports in Holly Hill. “You have memories and that’s what makes them special.”