Going to the Grand National Roadster Show is like visiting an art gallery. The painstaking time and effort that these automotive artists devote to their creations and then produce true works of art is a feast for the eyes, and the soul.
The 69th annual show was held last week at the Fairplex in Pomona, California, which was transformed into a museum of automotive excellence where you could browse the many halls that housed the individual categories, such as muscle cars, traditional hot rods, and “Rolling Bones” cars displayed in attractive dioramas showcasing and depicting the Bonneville Salt Flats.
But this is more than a museum or gallery show. It also is a competition, a concours d’excellence if you will, where the paint, fit and finish, engine, interior, chassis/undercarriage, craftsmanship, and overall design and flow are scrutinized by the esteemed judges.
There are awards to be decided, most coveted among them that given to America’s Most Beautiful Roadster.
The Roadster Show started in 1949, with Al Slonaker heading a hot rod club event at the Oakland Exposition in northern California. In 1967 the show moved to the Oakland Coliseum, and from 1998-2003 it was held at various San Francisco venues.
The show moved to Pomona in 2004 and remains the longest-running indoor car show in the world, featuring over 1,000 exquisite show cars with over 400 awards presented.
The AMBR winner’s name is engraved on a huge 9-foot tall perpetual trophy (the winning car owner receives a smaller version and a $10,000 prize. Past winners include the legendary Boyd Coddington, George Barris, Chip Foose and Blackie Gejeian.
This year there were 15 contenders for the AMBR Award. All roadsters entered had to qualify with removable top, no roll-up windows, removable windshield and built based on a 1936 or earlier body style and moving under their own power.
The place to be was Building 4, which became the temporary home for the 15 cars in competition. The cars included the likes of Rick Dore with his 1936 Cadillac, Bruce Meyer with his 1932 Ford Roadster, Brian Cruz and his 1932 Ford Roadster, Bill Nash presenting his 1930 Ford Roadster, and Dave Martin exhibiting his fine 1931 Ford Roadster.
During the closing ceremonies Sunday evening, the 1931 Ford Roadster owned by Dave Martin and built by Hot Rods and Hobbies in Signal Hill, California, was presented as America’s Most Beautiful Roadster.
This amazing hot rod began as a bare-metal racecar and competed in the Silver State Classic Open Road Race. At the show, the car was a crowd favorite and was praised for its impeccable craftsmanship and styling as well as its provenance and a 500-horsepower Ed Pink Racing engine nestled under the hood,
Some of the other special exhibits included a selection of low-riders by The Life Styles Car Club and the “Live Pinstriper’s Gathering” raised more than $40,000 for Camp Conrad Chinnock, a camp for children with Type 1 diabetes, sponsored by PPG.
Additional awards went a 1929 Ford Model A and Mark and Dennis Mariani (Al Slonaker Award), a 1950 Mercury and Mike Garner (George Barris Kustom d’Elegance Award), and a 1937 Lincoln LeBaron and Fred and Diane Bowden (Blackie Gejeian Award).
For more information, visit the event website.