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Getting Your Mustang Ready For Car Show Season

Created by Taylor Ward
Last Updated 5/17/2021

The weather is warming up, and you know what that means. It’s car show season, and it’s time for you to start getting your Mustang ready to show.

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The weather is warming up, and you know what that means. It’s car show season, and it’s time for you to start getting your Mustang ready to show.

If you’ve never been to a car show, however, this is the summer to attend one. You’ll have a chance to see what other people are doing with their Mustangs. Plus, it’s a great learning opportunity, and even if you don’t enter your Mustang, you'll get lots of neat ideas about preparing for a mustang car show in the future. It’s also a great place to meet and swap stories with people who have a shared passion.

Getting Your Mustang Ready For Car Show Season - Getting Your Mustang Ready For Car Show Season

What Do I Need to Know About Car Shows?

There are car shows for almost every make and model of vehicle you can contemplate. A quick Google search will reveal mustang car shows locally and nationally that may be of specific interest to you. You don’t need to attend the most prestigious or biggest shows right away — you can find lots of car enthusiasts in your area who participate in local shows.

For Mustang owners, the Mustang Club of America posts on its website a yearly rundown of all the car shows that would be of interest to Mustang owners. The site lists both national and regional shows, and the page includes links to further information and registration pages for each show. They also offer some tips on preparing your Mustang for a show.

If you’re interested in participating in a Mustang car show, you need to learn a little bit about classes. While they can vary from show to show, most events include stock and modified classes, while others will also add a street class. These classes may be broken down further into categories based on the year and the model of the vehicle, but smaller shows may only have classes like model and year. Cars that are older than 25 years will probably participate in separate categories, too.

Here's a bit more about each of these categories:

  • Stock: The stock class doesn’t mean that the car is ready to race at Talladega. A stock-car features the look and feel of a car as it first appeared after it was manufactured. And that includes the engine. A 1979 Mustang has the look and feel of a 1979 Mustang, not a 1979 Mustang that’s been toyed with over the years.
  • Street: In the street category, you’ll find the cars that people enjoy taking out for a spin whenever they can. They may be slightly modified in some way that makes them a little more noticeable — like paint jobs done with paints from the original equipment manufacturer, specialty decals, dealer or aftermarket parts or accessories.
  • Modified: You may see some streetcars in the modified class, depending on how much time and effort their owners put into the vehicle and the extras they’ve added. Some modified cars, however, are strictly for show. Their owners have outfitted them with lots of dazzling extras. At some events, there will be a special award for the show-only cars.

Start by visiting some local shows in your area. It won’t be too expensive that way, and you’ll get a feel for the work you'll have to put in to enter a car in competition. When you’re ready, you can travel farther, but remember that will mean more overall costs.

Getting Your Mustang Ready For Car Show Season - Getting Your Mustang Ready For Car Show Season

What Do I Need to Do If I Want to Enter My Mustang in a Car Show?

If you're interested in Mustang car shows, there are several important things to consider, including:

  • You need to clean and detail your car so it looks like it just came out of the dealer's showroom
  • You need to learn the classes of vehicles at the show you want to attend to decide which you think your Mustang will fit best in
  • You need to carefully consider the modifications you want to make to your car, as well as the style you choose to emphasize

Mustang shows ordinarily feature body styles. An SN95 model, for example, will only be up against similar body styles. These shows also will generally have a stock and modified class for each style.

Cleanliness and impeccable detailing go a long way in impressing judges at a car show. You don’t just want to wash your car as you would on a Saturday afternoon — you want your vehicle so clean that you could eat off the floor mats. If your lazily cleaned car ends up next to one whose owner was fastidious about cleanliness, it’s a bad look for you.

Follow these steps to get your Mustang looking brand-new:

  1. Start with a good wash.
  2. Choose a high-quality wax to apply after the wash. When you arrive at the show, a quick wipe down will bring back that sparkle the judges are looking for.
  3. It’s not just the exterior of the car you want to clean, but the interior, as well. Before the event, take your car to a location with a good vacuum and plenty of tools to help you clean those hard-to-reach crevices.
  4. The final step is cleaning and detailing the engine. A can of degreaser will remove residue and debris, and a silicone-free engine spray will make your engine shine.

We can’t stress enough how important it is to have your Mustang as clean as possible. If you’re a Mustang owner who is serious about looking good throughout car show season, invest in some cleaning supplies you’ll need on a regular basis.

You may have put a lot of time and money into modifications that give your Mustang a unique look, but if your car is dirty, untidy or has stains on the seats or the carpets, it will not be seriously considered for any awards.

You will find many of the parts and products you’ll need to give your Mustang the build you want and help it look its best at Late Model Restoration (LMR).

Getting Your Mustang Ready For Car Show Season - Getting Your Mustang Ready For Car Show Season

What About Issues Like Registration and Transportation?

Do your homework before you register for a Mustang car show. The little details that are sometimes easy to forget could make or break your presentation. Remember to:

  • Organize Your Documents: Carry a folder with your license, car registration and proof of insurance, as well as your receipt for entry fees. You can also use the folder for photos of your car, in case the judges wish to see how you prepared.
  • Ensure Your Car Is in Working Order: Change the oil and the fluids. Replace the wiper blades and the spark plugs. Fill it with gas. Make sure the battery has a strong charge — especially if you have an older model. You don’t want to transport your car to a show and then not be able to start it.
  • Develop a Transportation Plan: Consider how you’re going to get the car to the show. If it’s a local show, people will often drive their cars to the event. If it’s out of town, you’ll need a trailer. If you don’t own one, you can rent one — make sure you compare costs and types of trailers. It doesn’t help if you save money on the rental but get the wrong type of trailer for your car. If you’re driving out of town, make sure your motel or hotel has space for you to park the trailer.
  • Confirm Your Insurance Is Up-to-Date: You don’t want to have any unpleasant surprises on your trip — especially if you have an older or classic car. The insurance value of a classic car is determined differently than a new car. Make sure you review the policy on your Mustang and make any updates before you leave for the show.

Getting Your Mustang Ready For Car Show Season - Getting Your Mustang Ready For Car Show Season

What Else Do I Need to Know?

If this is your first time at a show, here are a few tips and items to bring:

  • Casual Dress: Casual is the move when it comes to clothing at a car show. Many people wear T-shirts they’ve acquired at other shows — the older, the better. You can often find just the right kind of old T-shirt at a thrift store. If not, many retail stores carry T-shirts featuring well-known models of cars. Make sure you have a backup shirt and pair of pants in case of spills — whether of food or car fluids.
  • Comfortable Shoes: If the show is in an open space, such as a field or large pasture, it will get messy, and good shoes will suffer. Wear comfortable, old running shoes or flats you don't mind getting a bit dirty — no high heels.
  • Chairs: Chairs that fold up and stuff in a bag are best — bring along two to four of them. You can even buy a special car show set with Mustang logos and other designs if you wish.
  • Tables: If you have a lightweight, fold-up table, bring it along for snacks and tools.
  • Shade: It’s great if the day of a car show has sunny skies, but the sun also takes a lot out of you. Twenty dollars will get you a decent canopy from local retailers like Wal-Mart. You can also pay more if you order a more heavy-duty weatherproof canopy online, for instance. You can even get canopies with the Mustang logo, although they can cost a pretty penny.
  • Sunscreen: If you’re going to be walking around for hours in the sun, you’ll need a good sunscreen.
  • Coolers: Yes, you need a cooler, but we recommend filling it with sodas, water and other non-alcoholic drinks. Car show people tend not to be heavy drinkers — after all, almost everybody is there to compete or look at cars, not sit around and drink all afternoon. Many shows don’t even allow alcoholic drinks in the event area, mainly because the connotation of vehicles and drinking together is not fond.
  • Camera: You'll want to take lots of pictures of the cars you're viewing. Most people use their smartphones as their cameras, but if you don't have a smartphone or a camera, it's smart to buy a disposable one or borrow one from a friend.
  • Cell Phone Charger: As we just mentioned, most people use their phones as their cameras. Bring a cell phone charger from home, as well as a plug that fits in a car’s cigarette lighter to help you recharge.
  • Food: Snacks are tasty, but you’ll find food booth or trucks that offer a variety of fare at most shows. To avoid the cost, you can also bring your lunch in your cooler.
  • Money: Always have a few dollar bills in your pocket for items you might want to purchase on-site, like T-shirts or food.
  • Contact Info: As we noted above, you’ll meet a lot of people who share your passion for Mustangs at a car show, so it’s a great place to meet new friends. You may also want to stay in touch with car owners whose vehicles have impressed you, so you can find out more about how they prepare their cars. If you think business cards are too formal, at least bring along some index cards or other scraps of paper and a pen to write down your contact info.

Getting Your Mustang Ready For Car Show Season - Getting Your Mustang Ready For Car Show Season

Let Late Model Restoration Help You Get Your Mustang Ready for Car Show Season

Since we were founded in 1999, our goal at Late Model Restoration has been to supply Mustang owners with the right parts at the right time. We reliably stock high-quality parts for affordable prices.

Everyone who works at LMR loves Mustangs, so you know we understand the passion you feel for this incredible car. The knowledge and experience we have built over the years working on late-model and more modern Mustangs makes our service second-to-none in this field. We believe the best way to continue to develop our business is to treat people with courtesy and respect, using our knowledge and experience to ensure our customers are happy with the parts and products they buy.

Although we specialize in restoration products, you can find first-rate Mustang performance and styling products at LMR, too. Whatever you need for your build, we can help you find it. If you have any questions, call us at 1-866-507-3786 or fill out the form on our contact page. One of our talented and experienced staff members will get in touch as soon as possible.



  1. https://www.hemmings.com/blog/2012/08/24/detailing-your-car-like-a-pro-how-to-get-your-car-ready-for-show-season/
  2. http://www.mustangandfords.com/features/1801-the-best-mustang-shows-of-2018/
  3. http://www.mustang.org/content.php/238-Mustang-Shows
  4. https://www.dmv.org/how-to-guides/detailing-car.php
  5. https://www.valuepenguin.com/classic-car-insurance

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