When the Grand National Roadster Show came to town, the Pomona Fairplex was hot rod heaven. From the buildings to the midways, everywhere you looked were cars, cars and more cars. There were big dollar show rods and homebuilt creations, record-setting drag cars and one-off customs. Topless, pre-1937 machines without roll-up windows competed for the coveted America’s Most Beautiful Roadster title, while a host of traditional rods overran the Suede Palace. This year’s show didn’t hold back—and we were right there in the middle of it all.
For our complete coverage of the 2020 show, click here.
Check Out Rodder’s Journal #82
The Rodder’s Journal issue #82 is printed, bound and shipping out. Weighing in at 168 pages, it’s one of our most editorially diverse issues in recent memory. The newsstand cover features a truly over-the-top Funny Car-inspired, injected Hemi-powered ’34 Ford five-window in baremetal. For the subscriber cover we captured a true barn find hot rod powerplant: a blown Y-block photographed exactly as it was found after a 58-year slumber in a Virginia garage.
Inside you’ll find everything from a land speed record-setting Thunderbird Streamliner from the ’50s to a Gene Winfield-style bubble top Buick custom built just last year in Japan. We also cover the T.R.O.G. Drags on the West Coast, the throwback Jalopyrama indoor car show on the East Coast, retrospectives of late-’30s Chevy Gassers and the first Street Rod Nationals, and a look at an iconic Deuce five-window from the dawn of the traditional rodding resurgence 30 years ago. With rods and customs from mild-to-wild, and racing on the street, salt and strip, TRJ #82 has it all!
A Look Inside
Ran When Parked | By Curt Iseli
Virginia hot rodder Bill Kane began building what would be his ultimate Deuce five-window show rod back in the mid-’50s, and the crown jewel was to be a beautifully detailed, 4-71-blown Y-block. Along the way he held onto every receipt and scrap of paper relating to the build, but by 1961 he’d run out of patience and money, and he locked the project in his garage and threw away the key. A few years ago the Deuce and the well-dressed ’56 Y-block were discovered and purchased by a new generation of Virginia hot rodders. We captured the blown Y-block as it was found, along with those decades-old receipts, and document what is one of the most complete hot rodding time capsule we’ve come across yet.
Controversial Coupe | By Joey Ukrop
Church magazine’s Coby Gewertz has been responsible for some radically different hot rods and customs in the past, but none are as wild as his latest project. Inspired by the Funny Cars, Gassers and Fuel Altereds he grew up around, he incorporated elements of them all in his heavily chopped, injected Hemi-powered ’34 Ford coupe. We tell the tale of the car’s winding path to completion, from its beginnings in the hands of fabricator Tim Conder to its current nearly complete, still-in-baremetal state at Bill Ganahl’s South City Rod & Custom. With its wicked rake, spindle-mount Halibrands, and massively set back Hemi with tall injector stacks poking through the cowl, it’s like a “Big Daddy” Roth monster car in the flesh.
Moonage Daydream | By Curt Iseli
As the longtime owner of Moon Equipment Company, Shige Suganuma is no stranger to hot rodding. But despite an endless parade of rods, shop trucks and racecars that have occupied his garage, he’s never owned a true custom. That changed last year when he completed his ’61 Buick LeSabre, the “Moon Blessing.” Drawing heavily on the ’60s-style customs of luminaries like Gene Winfield and Larry Watson, the virtually bone stock bubble top has been slammed on the ground, fitted with Cragar mags and skinny whitewalls, and treated to an outstanding pearl yellow and white fade paint job that would make Winfield proud. And it was all done by craftsmen within the booming rod and custom scene in Shige’s hometown of Yokohama, Japan.
Showdown in Santa Barbara | By Joey Ukrop
The Race of Gentlemen has been making waves on the East Coast and the West with its exciting brand of beach racing for several years now. But early this spring they took to the streets of Santa Barbara, California, for eighth-mile drags that felt like the street racing scenes of the ’50s and ’60s. We were there to cover the action, from flathead-powered early Ford roadsters and coupes to blown Hemi-powered Willys and even a few passes by the famed “Orange Crate” Deuce Tudor.
Hel’s Angel | By Don Prieto
New Orleans hot rodder and innovator L.W. “Knot” Farrington has been the go-to guy for performance automobiles in Louisiana for 80 years. Among the impressive hot rods he’s built was “Hel’s Angel,” a ’56 Ford Thunderbird Streamliner that set records everywhere it ran, from the drag strips to the salt flats of Bonneville. Veteran hot rodder and journalist Don Prieto is a lifelong friend of Farrington’s who grew up watching the Hemi-powered T-bird come together, so we could think of no better person to tell the story of the Fastest Car in New Orleans.
Return of the Jalopyrama | By Joey Ukrop
Now in its 15th year, the annual Jalopyrama car show is a true throwback to the indoor shows of the ’50s and ’60s. This year it was held on the polished concrete floor of an indoor hockey rink on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. The “Gassers, Dragsters and Racers” theme drew an abundance of competition cars, from Comp Coupes and diggers to nose-up Gas Class warriors and street racers. But there were plenty of traditional hot rods and cool customs on display as well. We caught the scene on the floor, in the vast spectator rod and custom parking areas, and on the pre-show cruise through scenic Talbot County, Maryland.
Stormin’ Stovebolts | By Joey Ukrop
While Willys, Anglias, tri-five Chevys and a few others tend to dominate the Gasser spotlight, ’37-’38 Chevys were the iron of choice for many early racers. Hot rodding and racing historian Greg Sharp came across a collection of photos of largely unknown Chevy Gassers from the late-’50s and ’60s that provide some interesting perspective on the true origins of Gas Class racing.
Purple Reign | By Dan Stoner
The late-’80s and early-’90s saw a return to classic rod and custom styling that grew into the burgeoning traditional rodding movement we all enjoy today. Jerry Duncan’s flathead-powered Deuce five-window was about as traditional as they came, and it was also one of the first rods to usher in traditional styling in 1980s Pennsylvania. Steve Coonan photographed the coupe for the December 1988 issue of American Rodder. As part of our 25th Anniversary celebration, we take a look back at this iconic early-style hot rod.
Street is Still Neat | By Curt Iseli
August of this year marked the 50th annual NSRA Street Rod Nationals. Conceived in Tom Medley’s office at Rod & Custom magazine, the Nats gave hot rodders a destination in the middle of the U.S. where they could gather, check out what’s going on in rodding circles elsewhere in the country, and have fun with their cars over a long weekend. The photos, shot by the then 21-year-old South Dakota rodder Donald “Hip” Liebig, show the scene at the very first Nats in Peoria, Illinois in 1970, from street Gassers and supercharged early Ford coupes to T-buckets and Woodies.