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From Model T’s to Modern Muscle — Ford Owners’ Association Bleeds Blue

 

For even casual car enthusiasts, it’s easy to understand how just four letters could ignite a lifelong fascination with the automobile:

F-O-R-D.

In Bill Howell’s case, a 1972 Gran Torino Sport was his first Ford of many — the same muscle car that spawned the title of Clint Eastwood’s 2008 film “Gran Torino.”

Howell fondly recalls the car’s light green finish, coke-bottle styling, and 351 Cleveland under the scooped hood.

“I just loved the way it looked. Once you parked it and got out, you couldn’t walk away from it without looking back,” he said.

While Howell’s Gran Torino is only a memory, his passion for the Blue Oval brand still burns more than four decades later. As president of the Georgia-based Ford Owners’ Association (FOA), he heads a group of gearheads dedicated to the “restoration, preservation, modification, fun, and enjoyment of all vehicles built by Ford Motor Company.”

On June 25, the FOA will host its 10th Annual All Ford Show and Shine at Summit Racing’s Retail Superstore in McDonough, GA. The event is open to Ford-, Lincoln-, and Mercury-powered or bodied vehicles. Registration is $20 per vehicle; spectators get in free. The show runs from 10 am-4 pm and features awards, door prizes, music, and food.

The FOA celebrates everything from the early days of crank-started vehicles up to and including current Fords making 750 horsepower. The club was formed 15 years ago as an offshoot of the Mustang Club of America, which was established in Georgia in 1976 and later moved to California.

“Some of the founding members of the Mustang Club of America decided to form a new club that didn’t just entail Mustangs,” Howell said. “They wanted a big umbrella club that included Mustangs, Galaxies, Falcons, Fairlanes — all Ford and Ford bodied vehicles.”

FOA’s 400 members own the full range of Ford’s output, including classic and late model Mustangs, Broncos, Rancheros, Mavericks, F-1 Trucks, Cougars, Continentals, customs, street rods, and more. Come to any FOA show and expect to hear a steady roar of Coyotes, Windsors, Clevelands, and Modular V8s.

Howell’s personal stable of Fords includes a 1965 Mustang convertible, 2007 Mustang GT California Special, 1993 Mustang LX Convertible, an F-150 Stepside pickup he bought new in 1986, and 2013 F-150 daily driver.

Why Ford? Howell explained his admiration goes back to the company’s early years, when Henry Ford instituted $5-a-day wages, and families relied on the affordable Model T as both an agricultural workhorse and all-purpose portable engine.

“At that time, nobody went in a car for a Sunday drive,” he said. “Ford was building cars to help people on the farm.”

In addition to its annual show at Summit Racing, the FOA holds a spring chili cook-off and participates in the Moonshine Festival and Car Show in Dawsonville, GA, in October. At the end of the year, the group donates proceeds from its shows to charities such as Shriner’s Hospital in Atlanta, Habitat for Humanity, and the Masonic Children’s Home in Macon, GA.

Ford fans of all ages are welcome and encouraged to join FOA.

“We have a lot of fun, we have a lot of nice cars, and we have a lot of good people,” Howell said.

For more information, visit the Ford Owners’ Association’s website.

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