Are you surprised to see an article in ChopCult about a traditional Hot Rod and Custom show? Well, 8 years of running strong, John Wells and the Iron Invasion family have always had ChopCult there to support the Choppers, Bobbers and Vans as a part of the show!
If you have never heard of Iron Invasion, it is an annual vintage car show and swap meet, started by John Wells back in 2012 after Hunnert Car Pileup was shut down, and the Chicagoland area needed another fall season Hot Rod show to meet the surge in popularity and quench the incredible thirst for vintage cars. Believe it or not, I was a Rockabilly girl once and was a regular at Hunnert Car, running with Cleen Rock One’s Bare Bones Car Club. There were always a few bikes mixed in, and a showcase in the corner of vintage, stock, rehab’d barn finds… but nothing that ever REALLY like a building dedicated to a show for vans and choppers. Since then, I have been to Iron Invasion multiple times, even participating in the Maiden of Iron Pinup Contest in Woodstock 2014. The location for the show has changed over the years, going back and forth to find suitable digs, but we hope, as MANY other MidWest people do, they stay in Davenport, so we can continue to grow the already staggering interest in old Iron, with a two-day showcase of vintage gold that features tent or camper camping on-site, vendors and live bands.
The goal for John, since the beginning, has been to raise money for children with congenital heart defects by donating proceeds to Helping Hannah's Heart Foundation- a name you may find familiar if you have ever been to Vintage Torquefest, John’s other incredible event. He is literally healing hearts while hosting a place for cars to throw flames!
This year, amongst the thousands of vintage cars, one building in the middle of the fairgrounds was completely dedicated to Custom Vans, Choppers, Bobbers, and custom bike culture as they introduced the LAST GASP Chopper and Van Invitational. A pun, I figured, on how October IS the last time a bike show is usually held in the Midwest because unlike our friends in the South or on the West Coast, we have to shut down due to 30 degree temps and snow for a few months. In the past Iron Invasion has gone on even with temperatures swinging from 30 C all the way to 80 C. This October we got lucky and had GREAT WEATHER to ride, swap, and party in.
The Last Gasp, sponsored by Rolling Heavy Magazine, Heavy Clothing, and ChopCult featured more vendors like Dirty Biker Design, and Wake Brewing, two staples in the Mississippi River chopper scene. Natanic’s Pinups was there, showcasing his chopper babes on bikes, HEAVY Clothing was there to support the choppers and Meltron Cycles was even selling an old barn find trike.
There was absolutely no disappointment in the number of vans and bikes that made an appearance in support, taking up a large parking area behind the building. Many of them were just as rad as the ones parked inside.
The building was surrounded by vintage camper parking and swapmeet participants who were slinging bike parts for standard and metric alike, car memorabilia, custom steering wheels, housewares, and vintage clothing from another local staple, Abernathy’s. We spent hours scouring the piles to find a few treasures.
The mini bike races and dirt drags went off without a hitch Saturday morning, amongst the growing crowds of spectators, and lastly, in my opinion, it just WOULD NOT BE Iron Invasion without a flame thrower show. For years custom rods with that extra spark always light up the night and warm up spectators by throwing fire. Maybe next year we can find some choppers to throw flames and melt minds?
Overall, Davenport welcomed Iron Invasion back with open arms, and Iron Invasion firmly smacked the buttocks with the Last Gasp, making it feel like a welcomed and missing part of the show. In an interview John did with Old Bike Barn, he mentioned how someone he knew carried the perception that he didn’t want “that element” of ‘bikers” involved in his show, although he had been raised around them as an inclusive part of car culture, as most of us have been. I am glad he gave the biker subculture a chance to show the vintage car crowd that we can cohabitate, and even get along, even though we have been there hiding in the shadows the entire time. Truly, as John put it, the main ingredient is LOVE.
Next year, mark your calendars for another great time. Bring your bike, your car, your van- mini chopper, or even a pet trash panda. “We do not have classes, and do not offer official awards.” John states. But I would suggest showing up for a hell of a good time! Please check out Iron Invasion's website for upcoming show details and give them a follow on Facebook and Instagram. For more information on how you can donate to the show’s motivation, please visit: Helping Hannah’s Heart Foundation.
Amy and Benny
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