A hand-built street machine described by experts as the best-ever to be produced in Australia will be brought to Summernats in January in a bid to win the event's much-coveted Chic Henry memorial grand champion broadsword.
Built in Beaudesert, Queensland, over the past 12 years, the dark green 1971 Ford Fairmont four-door sedan, known as "Forged", has swept all before it at show events this year elsewhere in Australia and is on target to become the most awarded show car of 2023.
And the pristine Ford must come off its custom-built show stand and be driven for the first time in competition events in Canberra, as part of the requirement to qualify for Summernats grand champion.
The extraordinary Ford will be among the 120 cars entered for the elite category of vehicle judging. Of these, 25 will be unveiled for the first time in Canberra.
Summernats veteran chief judge Owen Webb described the Fairmont as "raising the bar yet again" in elite car construction, finish and engineering.
"If you love cars, then I would urge people to come along just to see this one; the attention to detail is phenomenal," Mr Webb said.
"Special doesn't begin to describe it."
Sold out since mid-year, Summernats 36 will be held at Exhibition Park from January 4-7 next year and a number of key schedule changes have been made for the upcoming event to curb the disruptive behaviour which has since seen 100 people banned for life.
The evening of Saturday, January 7 this year generated unwanted controversy when drug and alcohol-affected patrons ran amok, triggering a shutdown of the internal cruise route and a withdrawal of some security staff, with concrete barriers placed over the road to stop drivers from moving about inside the precinct.
Summernats co-owner Andy Lopez said a comprehensive review of what happened that evening has been conducted and he is confident it won't happen again.
"We believe that a small group of people came down to Summernats with the deliberate intention of causing a disruption," he said.
"We've identified those people and they have been banned. I said that the time that these are not our people, and we don't want them here."
The schedule changes will bring the burnout finals forward to between 5-6pm on the Saturday night, followed by an internal Supercruise around the main arena.
Three major national acts are scheduled to perform on the Friday night, including the Screaming Jets, Jimmy Barnes and ex-Sherbert frontman Daryl Braithwaite, who will again belt out his singalong crowd favourite, Horses.
Three separate tranches of vehicle entries for Summernats 36 - capped at a maximum of 2500 in total - were sold out in hours by midway through this year and around 125,000 people are expected to attend for the burnouts, the cruising and the vehicle awards.
The Summernats Fringe Festival in Braddon, in which a selected number of cars are nominated to be on display and cruise Canberra's popular inner suburb, will be extended to three nights, running until 11pm, next year.