Not bad for a good ol’ southern boy who once spent his days as a shop foreman. The hot rod industry is incredibly fortunate to have as many talented builders as it has but there can only be one “King of the Hill,” and for 2011 at the 59th Detroit Autorama it was Bobby Alloway from Louisville, Tennessee.

As is the custom at the Detroit Autorama, prime real estate located front and center is set aside for the Builder of the Year to display past and present examples of his work. Alloway has a long list (it would fill a scorecard) of famous hot rods past and present. The Autorama set aside two islands (20x60 and 25x60) to house the “Black Hole”—more on that later! Many of these landmark cars have garnered recognition such as Goodguys’ Street Rod and Street Machine of the Year awards, the Don Ridler Memorial award, and America’s Most Beautiful Roadster. Add to this list countless indoor and outdoor show awards, including a string of 24 giveaway cars through his club participation in Shades of the Past’s yearly rod run in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Let’s not forget numerous SEMA show display cars, Builder’s Showcase at the NSRA Nationals, Alloway Reunion at Goodguys Nashville, dozens of magazine features and cover cars. And he’s even been on TV a time or two!

Alloway’s own ’33 Ford Victoria won the 1985 Ridler and in 2003 he and longtime friend George Lange won the AMBR with Lange’s Deuce roadster. Not to be outdone, George’s wife, Kathy, had Alloway turn his magic onto her ’57 T-bird, which won Goodguys Street Machine of the Year in 2004. Alloway also won Goodguys Street Rod of the Year with his track nose SpeedStar coupe with a big-block Chevy V-8.

But this year it was about honoring the well-mannered, soft-spoken Alloway who, besides being a darn good car builder, is a heck of a softball coach for his daughter Anna’s team. There were 15 cars present (he has built or restored 40-plus customer cars since 1990, which doesn’t count the 24 giveaway cars). It was in 1993 that he and Cindy married, having been together since 1978. Included in the display was his ’33 Ford coupe (1996) and one of his current builds, the ’61 Ford Sunliner belonging to George Poteet (2011). He has “opened” the shop doors twice (first in 1991); it burned to the ground in 1998 as the result of a lightning strike.

There’s a distinctive look to an Alloway car. Many times you will hear someone refer to it as the “rubber rake,” denoting the extreme big ’n’ little tire and wheel combinations. There can be no denying the aggressive appearance of an Alloway hot rod—you can see it from across the parking lot. Alloway likes using humongous BFGoodrich rubber (oftentimes the g-Force models) mounted to his own brand of wheels; you can only get the wheels if you have an Alloway car! Of course aggressiveness is more than looks.

Alloway’s hot rods have yet another distinctive characteristic and that manifests itself in their brutish power. We are sure he has built a small-block or two but try finding it! To Alloway there’s only one powerplant, one that appears to be an iron ore mine under the hood; lots of cubic inches supporting a meteoric rise in horsepower and torque numbers. Arguably the most powerful, yet driveable, hot rod to date is the Lange ’67 Ford Mustang (featured in Hot Rod) that rests atop an Alloway-prepped Art Morrison chassis.

The Keasler Racing–prepared Ford Racing 4.6L block represents 281 inches fitted with a set of Ford GT heads and COMP Cams components. The custom-designed intake feeds two 76mm Turbonetics turbos, which pump 12 pounds of boost. According to Alloway, in street trim the engine produces 839 hp at 8,700 rpm on 93 octane (pump gas). Alloway is confident there’s a few hundred more horsepower “on the table” with race gas and more boost. (There can be no denying Alloway was a moonshiner in a former life.)