John Gunsaulis Road Trip: From the Pacific Northwest to the Mid-Atlantic
Text and photos by John Gunsaulis
Text and photos by John Gunsaulis
John Gunsaulis is probably best known for his most recent effort, “The Woodward Roadster.” It made quite a splash at the Grand National Roadster Show this year, where it competed for the AMBR award. John is, however, a second generation hot rodder from the Spokane, Washington, area who grew up learning about hot rodded early Fords from his father “Speedy” Gunsaulis. On Sunday afternoon after things started to wind down on the weekend of the TRJ Revival this past September, we spent a bit of time talking to John about his trip to Baltimore and about what he had planned for the rest of his adventure. It all sounded like an awful lot of fun, so we asked John to put his experiences into words and share some of the photographs that he took along the way. The result was a jammed pack roadtrip that took him to a plethora of car shows and swapmeets. We wanted to share his impressions and photos of his nearly three weeks on the road.– TRJ
Nothing clears your mind like a long road trip. I know to some it’s not the same when you put your cars in the trailer and hit the road, but we had a lot of ground to cover in a short time. I had been wanting to go to some shows on the east coast for a couple of years and looked at the Rodder’s Journal Revival show as a great chance to finally do it. Plus after I talked to my friend Marcy Molkenthen about the dates of The Race of Gentlemen in New Jersey and the swapmeets in Hershey and Carlisle, Pennsylvania, and how close everything was I realized this was the opportunity I had been waiting for. Getting to the east coast shows was a great way to finally meet some friends for the first time in-person. Not to mention the best way to see what’s going on in a completely different area.
This is the way the trailer looked loaded up and ready for our cross-country road trip.
Since there was no chance my wife, Molly, could get away from her dental practice for that amount of time, Marcy and I decided we would partner up for the trip. She was looking to vend at the shows I wanted to attend, so it was a great match. Marcy drove up to Minneapolis from Austin with her stuff and took a plane out to Spokane to meet me. After loading up my 1932 Ford Phaeton and my 1928 Roadster pickup “The Woodward Roadster” we had a late start out of Spokane. We needed to make up some time, but if you have ever crossed Montana you realize it seems like it’s a never ending task. Plus, as we went through Billings we started seeing snow plows on the road and I knew I might have a fun return trip.
After a full day of driving (943 miles) and a quick nap in a Wall Mart parking lot, we were back on the road in Bismarck, North Dakota. Seven hours later we arrived in Minneapolis where we loaded up Marcy’s stuff and cleaned up at a friend’s place before hitting the road a few hours later. We were on our way to Gas City, Indiana and the first swapmeet/show of the trip.
Cool old ’39 that was in the swap meet area at the Duck Tail show.
The swap meet was on September 26th and our drive time was around 11 hours from Minneapolis to the Duck Tail show. So we needed to drive through the night so we could stay on track and make it to Baltimore by Friday the 27th. We didn’t have time to check out a lot of the show but we were able to find some stuff at the swap meet. Including a Columbia rearend for Marcy’s ’33 three-window.
We decided to push on through Ohio and Pennsylvania and make it into the Cumberland Gap, just over a seven hour drive. This made it so we had a easy day on the 27th getting into Baltimore for the TRJ Revival.
This is as close as I get to camping, sleeping in the trailer next to my roadster.
Part of the fun on a trip like this is trying to get some actual sleep. We pulled over at a truck stop and I curled up in the trailer next to the Woodward Roadster. Even a sleeping bag on a plywood floor feels better than a truck seat after awhile. Plus there is nothing better than swinging open the tailer door in the morning and seeing all the stuff happening at the truck stop.
I snapped this shot at the TRJ Revival in Baltimore, Maryland. The Pimlico grandstands had an ethereal glow in the twilight.
We made it to Baltimore Friday afternoon after 2480 miles and I was looking forward to unloading the cars and getting a real shower. The setting for the Revival is perfect and I could see one of my favorite cars was already there, Ashley Webb Taulbert’s Modified. I was excited to get the Woodward Roadster next to it so we could get some pictures of the two cars together. The show had a great turnout and in-between helping Marcy with her booth I saw some amazing cars, ran into some old friends and met some new ones. The highlight of the weekend for me is when we won the Craftsmanship award from TRJ and Dan Webb for the Woodward roadster.
After The Revival I was able to get the Tub out of the box and hit some of the back roads of Maryland.
I had a couple of days before the Carlisle swapmeet started so it was nice to get out and visit some of the civil war sites and I was even able to take the Phaeton out on some back roads. It’s amazing driving a hot rod around that area, the states are so close together and there is so much history everywhere. Carlisle was great with lots of vintage hot rod and early Ford stuff. I decided that I was going to look for gauges for the Phaeton and some for a new roadster project, I wasn’t disappointed.
I think it’s impossible to take a bad picture at The Race of Gentlemen, the Oilers C.C. put on an amazing event.
Our next stop was Wildwood, NJ for The Race of Gentlemen just over 200 miles north east. I can’t imagine a more picturesque car show than TROG or a more fun one. Even though the Phaeton was having some issues I had a great time just being there. Growing up in Washington you never think you are going to drive a hot rod on a beach in New Jersey, but there I was. The Oilers put on a great show and the town was fun. Again, it was good to run into some people I knew and to meet some of my wooden car friends that I only knew through the HAMB.
We scooped up this rare Evans four-pot intake for our friend Titus.
The next stop was a childhood dream come true, Hershey! When you grow up around vintage cars and swapmeets you always hear people talking about Hershey. It is portrayed more as a mystical place than a swapmeet. A place where you could never see the whole thing, never walk it all, but you could find anything you were ever looking for. It was big, there was a ton of stuff, and I was impressed by the quality of parts I found. It is definitely geared more toward restoration than hot rodding but that was fine with me, I love that side too. There is something great about walking down a row and seeing a model K or model N in the same booth. There was some high-end flathead stuff too so I had a great time and left with more gauges, brackets, and ideas.
Chicago is like a second home for me. I lived there for four years beginning in ’90 while my wife was going to Northwestern University. This might have been the only toll plaza I was excited to see on the trip.
Next was a 737 mile 12 hour drive to Woodstock, Illinois, for The Iron Invasion a fun show just outside of Chicago. I finally hooked up with my good friend Jeff Allison who is now living in Minneapolis and we set up a display with the newest member of Thee Inland Emperors, Chris Ito. It was the Phaeton, Chris’ Cockroach and the Woodward. The best part of setting up was when Chris gave the tires on the Woodward some much needed attention. The show had a good swap meet and some nice cars too.
Chris’ roadster getting cleaned up for the display. I love how he is getting ready for Full Show on his car and even took the time to detail my tires too.
As soon as the show was over we loaded up for the last swapmeet 6 hours away in Minneapolis. This is where Marcy and I parted ways, she needed to get back to Texas and I was looking forward to getting home to my family. I did run into snow as I went through Montana but it wasn’t sticking to the road yet, just the shoulders. I even needed to stop and buy an antifreeze gauge to make sure the Phaeton was going to be OK with the low temperatures that night. From Minneapolis back to Spokane is a 22 hour 1370 mile drive most of which I reflected on the trip of a lifetime, one I hope I can revisit someday.
There is nothing better than getting home from a long trip and laying out the loot. I think I now know what the dash is going to look like in the new roadster.
One of the highlights of the trip for me was to be able to take some pictures of my Model A and Ashley’s car side by side. Her car is one of my favorite cars that ever went for AMBR and it looks as fresh as it did the first time I saw it. There is nothing better than seeing a great idea and craftsmanship come together like it did on her car.
Gary Moore drove his ’36 Phaeton up from Florida towing his Deuce highboy racecar.
Dramatic cloud formations provided quite a backdrop for the TRJ Revival.
The Woodward Roadster was in good company. There were plenty of cool, fenderless, black roadsters at Pimlico.
I loved this super traditional ’33/’34 Ford pickup. The dual-quad equipped Cadillac mill and unique headlight bar were just right.
This is Brian Cannon’s ’32 Cabriolet. He is part of a great group of guys with flawless cars from New Jersey.
I was stoked to finally see Dan Webb’s ’32 Tudor in person.
This is one of the most amazing places I have ever been able to drive a hot rod to. In 1862 the Civil War battle of Antietam was fought here and 22,717 people died in one day in these fields. The amount of history that you drive through in this part of the country is amazing. The battlefield is less than 70 miles from where the Revival was held at the Pimlico race course.
I have always been into logo design and text layout and the combination of design and colors was amazing on this sign at the Carslile swapmeet.
The Lollipop hotel in Wildwood, New Jersey, had amazing colors in a town that proved to be the perfect backdrop for The Race of Gentlemen.
A quick snaphot out of the truck window as we crossed the Delaware River.
Finally made it to the beach in New Jersey.
Zach Suhr’s perfect roadster.
Pedro, Thee Inland Emperors mascot, checking out a belly tanker, he was even able to make a couple of passes with me in the Phaeton.
Zach Suhr was nice enough to let me stash my trailer at his place for Hershey. This was my favorite car in his unbelievable collection.
Although Hershey is more of a restoration swapmeet, there is plenty to see for hot rodders and there was some great speed equipment available.
I have a huge soft spot for unmolested commercial vehicles and Hershey had plenty of them to look at.
The things swap meet dreams are made of.
This is how I always pictured Hersey and I can’t wait for next year’s meet.
The last time I saw the Von T was at a Chicago World of Wheels show when I lived there. So, I was happy to see it again.
Thee Inland Emperors display at the Iron Invasion show consisted of my ’32 Phaeton, Chris Ito’s Cockroach and the Woodward Roadster. Chris took home a trophy for best motor, and we were able to hook up with club member Jeff Allison who had a booth there promoting his Krome’n Kandy show.
I found this tach at the last swapmeet of the trip in Minneapolis. It’s a machinist tach that I’ll convert to work in my next project.