Every year the Grand National Roadster Show staff puts forth an exhaustive effort to assemble a historical collection of vehicles surrounding a specific theme. This year the team’s efforts were dedicated to Customs: Then and Now housed in Building 9.

To accurately capture how customs have evolved through the years, cars were placed referencing the decades in which they were built, starting with the ’40s era gracefully flowing rearward capturing the essence of the ’50s and ’60s and beyond, culminating with more recent builds of the last decade.

By taking fresh steel from Detroit as a base and adding their own unique flair for design restyling, custom builders illustrate how creative sculpting can take factory forms to a whole new level. It’s obvious that as the decades passed both custom builders and automakers were influenced by each other’s creative efforts.

Working your way though the exhibition you were treated to restyling from countless historical designers beginning in the ’40s with flowing lines from Westergard and Coach Craft to Barris. There were a number of custom competition coupes on display, including the Pierson Brothers’ ’36 Ford and Doug Rice’s ’39 Ford, proving that you could possess both stylish looks while also being competitive at the racetrack. Along with the ’50s and ’60s came larger bodied cars allowing builders like Winfield, the A-Brothers, Hines, Starbird, Watson, Jeffries, Valley Custom, and Wilhelm to let their creativity flow. Then add in a formal meet-and-greet session, which gave you the chance to talk with many of the custom world’s legends. This, combined with a well-designed tribute to Larry Watson, and you could have spent the entire day in Building 9.

The once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to have a chance to see everything from the Skylane Motor Special, to the Hirohata Merc, the Aztec, Alcorn Merc, and Calori coupe under one roof was worth the price of admission alone. The amount of work taken to locate and assemble this breathtaking group of historical customs deserves a heavy tip of the hat to all those involved, including Alex Axle Idzardi, Rik Hoving, Jeff Neppl, and Luke Karosi, who worked tirelessly with the GNRS staff to make it all happen.

We can’t wait to see what’s in store for Building 9 come the 2012 GNRS.