It's quite a statement to make: the best indoor car show ever. But, judging by the throngs of folks who were walking around the Pomona Fairplex facility in Southern California with their mouths agape and shaking their heads while viewing the 58th Grand National Roadster Show, you'd realize what a momentous event was taking place.
For months, anticipation had run high for this particular show, as it was the first in a series of special happenings scheduled throughout the year to honor the 75th anniversary of the '32 Ford. Couple that with the high standard of excellence usually associated with any Grand National Roadster Show (where they award the America's Most Beautiful Roadster crown, among many other prizes), and the ante is upped. Most car shows come with a certain amount of fanfare, but in a rare instance, this event actually surpassed the hype.
Much of the focus of the show was turned to the '32 Ford, as it seems everybody is celebrating the 75th anniversary of the iconic vehicle. The GNRS joined in too, as one entire hall was transformed into an almost museum atmosphere by designer Larry Erickson, along with Dave Boule, John Clinard, and Greg Sharp. The foursome had been working for many months on compiling, locating, and gathering the 75 most influential '32s of all time for a once-in-a-lifetime viewing (in all, there were 474 nominees that were honed to the final 75).
A daunting task, the quartet was able to get 57 of the 75 vehicles to this location and exhibit them in a serene setting, coupling certain similar cars together while also displaying a timeline of vehicles down the center of the room that covered the past seven decades (from Vic Edelbrock's dry-lakes racer from 1938 to the Troy Trepanier-built Deuce roadster fabricated for Roger Ritzow in 2004).
Underwritten by Ford Motor Company, the 42,000-square-foot hall was opened Thursday night with an invite-only dinner and reception that featured speakers Edsel Ford III, Larry Erickson, and an appearance by legendary racer Phil Hill. Also, a row of 10 pedal cars was lined up in one section of the room that had been designed, painted, and assembled by some of the top hot rod builders in the country. Each pedal car is destined for an auction in Monterey, California, in August where the proceeds will go to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. (Check out page 197 of this issue to see who built which pedal cars)
The hall was opened to the public after the function, and folks slowly started to filter in as the rest of the Grand National Roadster Show was still in "set-up" mode. With some of the most historic cars ever built available for inspection, the room became a show within a show with car enthusiasts all weekend long. Most knew this group of cars was never going to be together again, and they felt lucky they were able to experience it.
Besides the "'32 room," as it came to be known, there were six other large rooms devoted to the best cars in the country. One room was dubbed the "overflow '32 room" because it, too, was filled with '32 Fords that were just as nice as the ones in the Ford hall, but most without the historic connection. The Suede Palace gave a place to the primered and rat rod crowd, even though a few exceptions featured glossy paint. A series of rockabilly bands blasted out tunes all day from the corner of the Palace, and vendors set up around the edge offering everything from Tiki dolls to T-shirts, with a smattering of vintage car parts too.
The suede group also overflowed outside and joined other cars and owners who filled in the spots between the large buildings. Not to be judged lightly, these "outsiders" would be a top draw at any other car show in the country-the talent was that good. Three more large rooms were filled to capacity with other fine examples of rolling automotive art, but it seemed all roads led to the "Big Room."
The Big Room covers 105,000 square feet (larger than two football fields end to end) and in its center is where contenders for the America's Most Beautiful Roadster award are displayed. The huge 9-foot AMBR trophy, first presented in 1949, takes center stage, with winners from the past two years flanking it on either side. Radiating out from there, 12 vehicles were set up to showcase their individual design and craftsmanship, and all hoped to walk away with what arguably could be rodding's greatest prize.
Over in the "Big Room" (one of seven halls required to fit the 450-plus cars in the show),
John Lee's '36 Ford showed a different way to go in the wheel department. Chrome spokes on
Big S.Co.T. is the name given to Sissy and Roger Morrison's throwback roadster that featur
Don Tognotti built the Avenger in 1960, four years before he won the AMBR award with his K
Colorado's Eric Peratt was named this year's Builder of the Year, and had an impressive ar
Chet Miller, from Temecula, CA, slipped into the show with his ultra-low '37 Ford, which h
Ultra low and lean, Dennis McKee's '61 Buick Invicta is equipped with a 401 Nailhead and g
John D'Agostino's Golden Star is another in a long line of customs from the NorCal residen
A kustom down to the bone, Robert Dutton's Carson-topped '41 Ford looked like a polished e