Calling All Cars

For those constrained to four-door sedans, family minivans and walnut-size hatchbacks, the Carquest World of Wheels is the perfect escape from the mundane. The 35th annual auto show hits the Phoenix Civic Plaza this weekend, when more than 280 classic and custom-built cars flood into Phoenix and provide an outlet for anyone who gets revved up over a ravishing car.

Celebrities such as Val Kilmer, Survivor host Jeff Probst, Mail Call host R. Lee Ermey and World Wrestling Entertainment's Stacey Kiebler visit with fans throughout the event, but the real main attraction is the vast collection of uniquely tailored vehicles.

"It's like a rolling art show," says A.J. Westfall, show chairman. Just as art admirers should appreciate a Picasso and a Rembrandt hanging side-by-side in a museum, car show patrons should value the individual personality of each car, from the Mustang to the lowrider, Westfall says.

Westfall has been involved with the show since 1987, and has seen it evolve into a family event that offers entertainment for more than just men.

"For most of the years that the show has been running, it's been a predominantly male crowd," he says, adding that attendance usually hovers around 35,000. "But amazingly, a lot of women are getting interested in the show now."

The show is part competition, part display, Westfall says. A host of local and regional vehicles are pitted against each other in various categories, with the goal of collecting honors in the International Show Car Association competition.

Some cars, however, serve purely as eye candy. Magazine-cover cars and one-of-a-kind automobiles built specifically for the show will flood three of the plaza's five large exhibit halls.

The show includes such sought-after beauties as Suki's S2000 Honda from 2 Fast 2 Furious, Jim Noteboom's cherry red "Zef-Fire" and John D'Agostino's sleek "Firestar." Troy Trepanier's "Fast Forward Fast Back" Mustang, which was created to sell on eBay, will also be on display.Westfall says not to worry if the names fly over your head. The vibrant colors, stunning designs and, on some, the vintage appeal, are enough to attract anyone. Highlights include scooters from the 1930s, custom-built hot rods and a never-before-seen Studebaker. Even motorcycles, trucks and vans receive display time.

"You have to appreciate them all," Westfall says.

While the Carquest World of Wheels is perhaps the largest outlet for local car enthusiasts, Arizona is no stranger to celebrating the automobile. In the next month alone, people will gather for Motorsports Day, the Papago Military Vehicle show, the Kruse Classic Car Auction and the Quartzsite Rock 'n' Roll Classic car show. -- By Ashlea Deahl

Catch the Carquest World of Wheels auto show from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday, January 2, and Saturday, January 3, and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday, January 4, at the Phoenix Civic Plaza, 111 North Third Street. Admission is $12 for adults, $4 for children ages 5 to 12, and free for children under 5. Discount tickets are available at Phoenix area Carquest auto parts stores. Purchase tickets at the Phoenix Civic Plaza box office, or call 602-262-7272. Log on to for more information.

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.