DES MOINES, Iowa – For car fanatics, Des Moines was hot rod heaven this weekend. More than 4,000 American-made and powered hot rods, customs, classics, street rods and muscle cars through 1972 made their way to the Iowa State Fairgrounds Friday through Sunday for the 23rd annual Goodguys Heartland Nationals Car Show.
“One of the things we like to say is that we’re sort of the Disney Land for the car guy,” said Andrew Ebel, Vice President of Business Operations for Goodguys Rod & Custom. “It’s all about cool people, cool cars, and good times.”
As the largest automotive event in the state, car vendors from 31 states traveled to the show this weekend. Des Moines is the eighth show on a 19-stop tour.
“Des Moines is just growing for us,” Ebel said. “This is a great market, a great community, the people are amazing.”
For Mike Freund, a Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, native and car enthusiast who has taken his work to car shows for 38 years, this is like vacation. “Growing up I was never any good at any sports,” he said. “I played baseball, basketball, football, but I just wasn’t hooked in it. I was always hooked on the car scene.”
With more than 4,000 vehicles in one spot this past weekend, Goodguys said spectators were looking at hundreds in millions of dollars in value at the State Fairgrounds.
Freund’s prize vehicle has been in his family since he was 12 years old. He said it’s been remodeled, re-painted, and tweaked more times than he can count. While he said he isn’t sure how much it’s worth, he would never sell it.
“I don’t think there’s a price they could put on it,” he said. “Because of just sentimental value to it.”
While some vendors bring cars to sell, others come just for the atmosphere.
“I think that the overwhelming reason that most people come out here is to enjoy other car people, and to be around people with similar interests, and to be around cars,” Ebel said. “A lot of people are coming out to see some of the latest trends.”
For vendors like Freund, these car shows are a chance to see how his hard work matches up with the competition; each show is like a challenge, and once he’s done with one remodel, it’s on to the next project.
“This is what makes the world go around for us,” he said. “You know, we live and breathe cars, and when you have it for a passion, that’s a big difference than just a liking of something.”