Clanton native wins at World of Wheels

Published 11:27 am Thursday, February 23, 2017


James Darnell’s 1970 Plymouth Roadrunner won first place in the Restored 1968-1972 Plymouth category at the World of Wheels in Birmingham on Feb. 10-12.

“It’s a pretty rare car. Any show you go to, it draws a lot of attention,” Darnell said.

Darnell has spent the last 13 years restoring the Roadrunner into a show car. His car is a rare model with a 440 engine and three 2-barrel carburetors.

He got the car in 2003 and started working on it during the weekends. The rare find had been sitting in a barn for 23 years, but fortunately for Darnell it was still salvageable. His friend Randy Welch of Welchco Hot Rods helped him finish it in time to start showing when he retired.

“Everything on the car has been restored … everything came out of the car and we restored it piece by piece,” Darnell said. “There were very few things we had to replace. It was really a rust-free car and that’s what you hunt for.”

In June 2016, Darnell went to the Mopar Nationals in Columbus, Ohio. He entered his car and won first place in the B-Body Plymouth Original category.

Darnell said he has had multiple first place wins and Best in Shows since he started showing his car.

“I’ve been to several car shows and got Best in Show, but I’ve been to car shows and didn’t get anything,” Darnell said.

He and his wife Debra recently retired. Car shows have been a way for them to go out and enjoy seeing new places and meeting up with friends.

“We usually take a two-week trip when we go somewhere. We stop along the way and just enjoy the scenery, take a vacation, go to the show and then cruise back. We see friends along the way,” Darnell said.

At the World of Wheels, Darnell met his closest competitor before the judging took place and said they both knew one of them would be first and the other second. This did not keep them from becoming friends, though.

“I got a new friend that I didn’t know before,” Darnell said. “That’s a big part of it.”

Darnell is a part of the Chilton County Cruisers. The group meets at Walmart in Clanton for a free car show every month. The next show is March 11, weather pending, and is free and open to the public.

“On a good night when it’s not raining and there’s not much going on we might have 50-60 cars there,” Darnell said.