The 59th Annual Grand National Roadster Show was held on January 25-27, 2008 at the Los Angeles County Fairplex, in Pomona, California. The reason for the Show is the overwhelming array of fantastic cars, motorcycles, trucks and other vehicles. It is a show that presents a well rounded view of the motoring world, but the crown jewel is and has always been, the AMBR Award for America’s Most Beautiful Roadster. John and Annika Buck are the owners and producers of the show and they have scoured the land in an effort to bring us beautiful vehicles. The Los Angeles County Fairplex has seven spacious buildings in which to show off these wondrous machines. The grounds have been manicured with care and the facilities, with their 1930’s Art Deco look, make the perfect setting for this prestigious event. The Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance and Detroit’s Autorama featuring the Ridler Award claim to be the premier auto shows in America, but anyone who has seen the Grand National Roadster Show knows better. Every year the show improves, the problems ease and the cars seem to reach new heights of design and craftsmanship. Even the cars that are not entered in the AMBR category are works of amazing artistry and imagination.
There were fourteen roadsters entered in this years AMBR category and they ranged in design from standard roadsters of the 1930’s to sleek and sporty looks. Sam Magarino, from Sparta, New Jersey, entered a ’32 Ford Roadster. Sam was in the hospital and missed the show. He sent Rich and Paige Udell and their miniature Doberman, Hoochiemama, to show the car, which was first seen at the Detroit Autorama in 2007, vying for the Ridler Award. Although the Ridler went to a coupe, Magarino’s car was judged the best roadster of that event. Robbie Azevedo debuted a ’29 Model-A Ford Roadster with wood paneling in the rear and a squared off look, resembling a “woodie” version of a roadster and a traditional deep brown upholstery. Robbie comes from American Canyon, California and owns Pacific Coast Customs. He’s a young man, in his twenties, with a lot of talent. He produces about one car a year and only cars built from 1972 and prior. “Kyle Martin is the painter and pinstriper and the woodwork was done by two of my high school woodshop teachers, Bill Newton and Armond Patrino at Napa High School,” said Azevedo. John and Jane Kisiel, Jaymie O’Day and Kyle made a very energetic and youthful crew. Kyle has been a painter for thirteen years. “We finished the car at 2:30 am, the night before the show’s move-in time. Dan Most did all of the upholstery work in only a day and a half. We’ve worked on this car for 3 years, and I’m going to keep the car,” he continued. Expect more from Robbie and his crew in the future.
George Prajin from Huntington Beach, California, exhibited a ’32 Ford Roadster with a tan colored soft convertible top. The car was painted a deep solid copper, chromed wheels and engine, with cocoa brown upholstery. Bill Williams came from West Valley, Utah, with his ’32 Ford Roadster on a lengthened chassis, rear slick tires, chromed engines and wheels, red interior upholstery, dragster style chromed headers and a really sleek modern look to the normal ‘32’s. Donald Orosco, from Monterey, California, brought his ’32 Ford Roadster Hi Boy. The paint scheme was Henry Ford black, with light brown upholstery, a touch of chrome and the classic looks of a 1930’s body and engine. It was original in a very restrained and pleasing way. Rick Dore, from Glendale, Arizona, showed his ’36 Ford Roadster, fully-fendered, white convertible top, painted a deep cherry red. Rudy Necoechea, from Sherman Oaks, California, was a very busy man with his popular entry, The ‘Joker.’ I attempted to interview him, but there were too many people. His display of a huge roulette table was as brilliant as the design of the car, a ’32 Ford Roadster, with a hard convertible top and seats built into the metal body of the car. The back rests were but slight pads for comfort and contoured to fit the curvature of the spine. The paint was a champagne color and the interior was all metal.
John Mumford hails from South San Francisco not far from the original area where the Grand National Roadster Show was founded in Oakland, California. His car is the Ala Kart, a former two-time AMBR winner, restored and questing for a third win. The car is a ’29 Ford Roadster Pick-up painted white with gold and purple trim and pinstriping, with a soft, white convertible top, running board and racecar style grill. Dean Jeffries did the original pinstriping on the car. Dennis Higginbotham, from nearby Pomona, California, brought his ’32 Ford Roadster, called “The Doane Spencer 2.” The car has that rakish, black color paint scheme, brown upholstery and traditional look that has been called the “quintessential American Hot Rod look.” The original Doane Spencer roadster is owned by Bruce Meyer and has won the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, in the hot rod category. Doug Jerger came from Mesa, Arizona with his ’32 Ford Roadster, with a convertible hard top, and a two toned paint job. The color was a two- toned cream and candy apple red extending to the grill and hood and red interior upholstery. John St Germain brought his ’36 Ford Roadster from Goodwood, Ontario, Canada. The color was solid black with a soft convertible top, full-fendered with running boards and a sloped rear end. The interior had an Ivory white dashboard and dark brown upholstery. This is the kind of car Henry Ford would have relished building.
Michael Chetcuti, from Livonia, Michigan, came almost as far as did St Germain. He exhibited a ’27 Ford Roadster, solid black color, bucket seats, a more modern streamlined engine compartment, extended and lowered body and a ‘40’s rounded, racecar style windshield. The engineering melded elements of the traditional hot rod style with those of the aerodynamic Bonneville roadster look. Another racecar looking roadster came from Hamilton, Ohio. Scott Whitaker showed off his ’32 Ford Roadster with extra large ‘30’s racing tires, knock-off wheel nuts and wire spokes. The car had a two-toned paint scheme with black and white and a green racing stripe. The interior was green paint on metal and chrome bucket seats, with a racing sports car headrest behind the driver. Whitaker’s shop is Dyna Sport, with help from the Speed Kings of Cincinnati, Ohio. “My idea was to build a roadster with a mid-century sports car look. I used Coker tires, sizes 19x5’s in the front and 20x5’s in the rear,” Whitaker added. This was his first year as an AMBR car contestant. All of the cars were outstanding this year. Some kept to a traditional hot rodding style, while others pushed the boundary of imagination, design and craftsmanship.
Gone Racin’ is at [email protected].