We just returned from a weekend in Santa Maria for West Coast Kustoms’ 32nd Annual Cruisin’ Nationals. Once again the long-running show and cruise, attracting over 750 entries from all over the country, was ground zero for custom car aficionados and hot rodders alike. This year, another bumper crop of tail-dragging customs turned out for what continues to be one of our favorite spring events.

We noticed that while there were still a large number of hot rods, this year marked a definite return to this being a true custom car show, with finely finished show cars, spot-primed daily drivers, and “under construction” projects all on display. The weather was perfect all weekend, from the opening of Friday night’s cruise through downtown Santa Maria until the gates to the Fairpark finally closed on Sunday afternoon.

Customs descended on central California for the Cruisin’ Nationals. We liked the canted b-pillar treatment on Mike Bell’s ’40 Merc. In the background is Matthew and Lara Harris’ virgin ’51 Merc—an unusual sight at a West Coast Kustoms event.

Customs descended on central California for the Cruisin’ Nationals. We liked the canted b-pillar treatment on Mike Bell’s ’40 Merc. In the background is Matthew and Lara Harris’ virgin ’51 Merc—an unusual sight at a West Coast Kustoms event.

 

Brett Cowen brought his absolutely stunning, chopped, DeSoto-grilled ’49 Chevy Styleline DeLuxe coupe from Sacramento, California.

Brett Cowen brought his absolutely stunning, chopped, DeSoto-grilled ’49 Chevy Styleline DeLuxe coupe from Sacramento, California.

Collectively, the rod and custom community owes a debt of gratitude to Penny and her son Rit Pichette and West Coast Kustoms for continuing to give us such a great place to meet and cruise every Memorial Day weekend. Organized by Penny and her late husband Rich so many years ago, it’s hard to believe how much the quaint custom car gathering has grown.

We also want to thank everyone who stopped by The Rodder’s Journal booth. Our new location inside the Park Plaza Building was great for us because we were able to check out the action at the adjacent Pinstripers Panel Jam and visit with our friends throughout the weekend.

This coming weekend we’ll be on the road again, this time on the other side of the country at the NSRA Street Rod Nationals East in York, Pennsylvania. It’s always a great show and it’s shaping up to be a fine weekend back east, so if you’re planning to be there, stop by our booth to say hello. We’ll have the Dan Post Custom & Restyling Box Set and copies of TRJ #59 available, along with our latest T-shirt designs, hats, and other merchandise.

Keep scrolling for more photos from the 32nd Annual Cruisin’ Nationals.

Lowrider bombs have always been a big part of the scene at the Cruisin’ Nationals, and we couldn’t think of a better example than this slammed, skirted, and accessorized 1948 Fleetline Aerosedan.

Lowrider bombs have always been a big part of the scene at the Cruisin’ Nationals, and we couldn’t think of a better example than this slammed, skirted, and accessorized 1948 Fleetline Aerosedan.

 

In addition to the taildraggers, there was an impressive display of hot rods sprinkled around the Fairplex, including this nose-down ’34 Ford five-window.

In addition to the taildraggers, there was an impressive display of hot rods sprinkled around the Fairplex, including this nose-down ’34 Ford five-window.

 

After making a splash at this winter’s indoor show circuit (including taking the King of Kustoms and Sam Barris Memorial Award at the Sacramento Autorama), it was great to finally see John D’Agostino’s recently completed ’40 Cadillac, “Sophia.”

After making a splash at this winter’s indoor show circuit (including taking the King of Kustoms and Sam Barris Memorial Award at the Sacramento Autorama), it was great to finally see John D’Agostino’s recently completed ’40 Cadillac, “Sophia.”

 

Mark and Kelly Skipper’s ’51 Ford Victoria custom (TRJ #59) is flanked by the Gary “Chopit” Fioto-built ’55 Ford “Beatnik Bubbletop” and Rob Collins' wildly flamed and pinstriped ’57 Chevy that would have made Dean Jeffries proud. On the far right is Steve Pierce’s mint-green ’53 Buick custom.

Mark and Kelly Skipper’s ’51 Ford Victoria custom (TRJ #59) is flanked by the Gary “Chopit” Fioto-built ’55 Ford “Beatnik Bubbletop” and Rob Collins’ wildly flamed and pinstriped ’57 Chevy that would have made Dean Jeffries proud. On the far right is Steve Pierce’s mint-green ’53 Buick custom.

 

Is green the new black in custom cars? It’s hard to argue when you see examples like Anthony Defreitas’ chopped, air bagged ’51 Merc, from Pleasanton, California.

Is green the new black in custom cars? It’s hard to argue when you see examples like Anthony Defreitas’ chopped, air bagged ’51 Merc, from Pleasanton, California.