On January 27th-29th, close to 1,000 cars took over the Pomona Fairplex for the Grand National Roadster Show. Now in its 68th year, the event brought some of the world’s best hot rods and customs out onto the show floor (as well as the surrounding grounds) for three action-packed days. From the prestigious America’s Most Beautiful Roadster competition to the “60 Years of Tri-Five Chevys” display and beyond, there was no shortage of well-built rods, customs and street machines on hand.
It took some doing, but we were able to sneak in a photo of the AMBR-winning Mulholland Speedster after the crowds dissipated on Sunday evening. Troy Ladd says it wasn’t his intent to transform the 1936 Packard into a rod or custom—he just wanted to create an “elegant, sexy roadster.” This was Troy’s first AMBR win.
Just like in years past, the competition for the coveted AMBR title was tight. When the judging was complete, Bruce Wanta’s “Mulholland Speedster” took home top honors. Designed by Eric Black and constructed by Troy Ladd and the Hollywood Hot Rods team, the coachbuilt roadster is loosely based on a ’36 Packard 1401C and features an automatically retracting hardtop, blown Lincoln V12 and beautiful “Mulholland Merlot” paint. Troy says 80% of the car was hand-formed in-house at Hollywood Hot Rods and the build took six years to complete. We’ve long been proponents of the traditional look, and we were pleased to see all 13 of the AMBR entries—as well as hundreds of other cars at the show—leaning in that direction to some degree. Is this a sign of things to come? We can only hope.
Although we spent the majority of the weekend in our booth in Building Four, we were able to walk around and take in a little bit of the show. This is by no means complete coverage, but it is a small glimpse into the cars that caught our eye in Pomona.
Before we move on to the pictures, we’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who stopped by our booth to say hi. Whether you’re a new reader with a question or an old friend catching up, we always love hearing from you. And so, without further ado, here are a few highlights from our trip to the Grand National Roadster Show.
Pete Chapouris passed away nearly a month before the Grand National Roadster Show, but his presence was certainly felt throughout the fairgrounds all weekend. Here “Limefire” and “The California Kid” —two of his most iconic cars—bask in a place of honor in Building Four. The Chapouris family received this year’s Brizio Family Award.
The Ed Roth shop truck was another fan favorite in Pomona, now returned to its famous flamed guise by Dave Shuten for Beau Boeckmann of Galpin Auto Sports. Robert Williams painted the dash, Pete “Hot Dog” Finlan did the pinstriping and lettering, and Von Franco expertly recreated the Weirdos on the tonneau cover.
Last weekend’s show marked the baremetal debut of the “Capri” 1950 Ford shoebox pickup. The chopped and sectioned custom was originally built by Richard Gregg of Rick’s Body Shop in Sacramento, California, in the late-’50s and is now owned by Tony Gomes.
The Capri wasn’t the only shoebox-turned-pickup in attendance. The 1949 Ford “Shampoo Truck” was built by Joe Bailon for Horace Davi back in 1953. Through the years, it faded from the limelight, only to reappear in the late 2000s. It’s now fully restored and owned by Bob Dron.
Matthew Gordon looked to Goolsby Customs in Hueytown, Alabama, to build his ’32 Ford roadster pickup. From the cycle fenders to the 3×2 Olds motivation, the metallic blue truck oozes with mid-century appeal.
Mike Bello of Bello Kustoms in San Diego had his 1940 Chevy “El Ruletero” in Building Five. The Yellow Cream coupe has been chopped, shaved, skirted and uses ’41 Cadillac bumpers front and rear. And yes, the illuminated ’51 Pontiac hood ornament is fully functional.
Sebastian Rey fully captured the mid-’60s look with his ’62 Lark D/Gasser. Dubbed the “Bluebird,” the nose-up Studebaker sports a Don Long straight axle, cross-ram equipped 331cid Chevy and Americans on all four corners. Note the Buick-powered Buick Funny Car in the background.
Even though the majority of this year’s AMBR contenders were Ford based, Matt Taylor of Concord, California, entered his 1927 Dodge into the mix. The channeled roadster pays homage to show rods of yesteryear with its sculpted rear, custom-formed nose and period-perfect fade paint sprayed by none other than Art Himsl.
Texas hot rodder Carl T. Stone rolled over the competition at the third annual NHRA Nationals in 1957 with his smallblock-powered Deuce roadster. It’s since been restored twice, and it was one of many historic race cars on display at the Fairplex.
Gord Gray of Surrey, British Columbia, kept things simple while planning his ’32 Ford roadster. The black-on-black Deuce features a Brookville body, Kiwi Konnection chassis and a healthy H&H Flathead underneath the louvered hood top. The car was an AMBR contender.
Brandon Flanner and the East Bay Speed & Custom team worked around the clock to get Mike and Marcia McAuliffe’s 1940 Ford Fordor ready for its debut at GNRS. The sedan netted awards for Best in Class, PPG’s Outstanding Paint and H&H’s Best Dressed Flathead.