Regardless of the direction this hot rod is pointed the quick-release equipped and hand-wrapped steering wheel by Carl Olson and Larry Amboy works to perfection. The unique wrapping was the brainchild of Chapouris as he remembered a ’20s Bentley race car while attending a Goodwood event years back. Having a great idea and implementing it are often two different scenarios but Chapouris enlisted his longtime friend (and neighbor!). Olson knew Amboy, a well-known fishing rig maker. In time Amboy was able to deliver the ideal complement to the interior with its unique and interesting presentation on a steering wheel wrap. The steering wheel rests on top of the custom column, which in turn (pun intended) directs the Halibrand 9:1 Sprint Car steering box yielding highly controlled turns. The roadster handles and rides comfortably thanks to the Howerton-fabricated parallel front torsion bar suspension based on a stainless steel axle, radius rods, tie rod, drag link, Sanders spindles, and the SO-CAL Speed Shop aluminum Speed Shocks. In back the basis for the crossbar rear suspension is a Halibrand quickie (utilizing a Watt’s linkage) running in street trim with 3.78 gears through an open differential, a pair of Strange Engineering 31-spline axles, and revisiting a pair of SO-CAL Speed Shocks, Wilwood twin-piston calipers and 12-inch drilled and vented rotors.

All of this highly proven and track-tested suspension is attached to a titanium ceramic-coated frame made from 1-3/4 x 0.120-inch 4130 chromoly tubing. It was Howerton’s intent to build a sprint car-like chassis with the necessary characteristics to be totally at home on the street. Again, the goal was achieved.

The greatest suspension and the best of intentions all go out the proverbial window if the wheel and tire package doesn’t answer the call to performance and address the desired aesthetics. The roadsters’ heritage is racing bred and to have anything less than original Indy circa-’50s Halibrand magnesium wheels with one-off bronze Rudge-style two blade knockoffs would be remiss. No “miss” here as original polished Halibrand mags are wrapped with Englebert tires, 5x16 fronts and 7x18 rears are spotted at the corners.

The chassis’ sublime shine comes through the ample use of nickel plating out of the tanks of Quaker City Plating, while the highly polished aluminum one-off valve covers and air cleaner arrived from the mill of Clay Cook of C. Cook Enterprises of Erlanger, Kentucky.

Earlier paint was mentioned and it should be noted the color is PPG Mercedes-Benz Iridium Silver sprayed on my Mick Jenkins of SO-CAL Speed Shop with the graphics patiently handled by Dennis Rickleffs; additional paint support came from Juan Carrillo and Paco Castell. The roadster’s skin is adorned via a combination of paint and highly polished aluminum, especially the Jerry Weeks hand-fabricated nose and Howerton grille. Weeks also masterfully applied the power hammer in shaping the bellypan and other sheetmetal. Additionally, master metal shaper Jimmy Kilroy broke out his English wheel and shaped much of the body. Look closely at the interior and you will gaze upon a combination of Weeks and Kilroy’s raw hammered aluminum allowing each of us to see the old-world craftsmanship represented in the metal shaping. The SO-CAL team along with the likes of Mike Curtis, Scott “Dirty” Howard, Monty “Moose” Hutchinson, Richie Norgueria, Ryan Reed, Eric Sandoval, Robin “Silky” Silk, and Eric Vaughn performed artesian levels of fabrication.

A number of handmade items are used in conjunction with hot rod ware ,such as the Dietz headlights on removable stands and custom taillights that convey a sense of ’39 Fords—the quintessential hot rod “teardrop”. Arguably one of America’s iconic hot rods is the Carroll Shelby Cobra, and the pair of external mirrors is genuine Cobra fare.

During the 11th hour the likes of Jon Ciauri, Jimmy “Shine”, Evin and Justin Veazie all from the halls of SO-CAL gathered up their talents and assembled this year’s AMBR winner. Anyone who has been involved in the final assembly of any hot rod knows the pressure is on—on time and no screw ups!

To achieve more sometimes you have to do less. The look is minimalistic but there are literally thousands of finely crafted individual components and it is this “more by less” appearance that gives this year’s AMBR winner a timeless appearance. Many years from now hot rodders will stand and stare as this hot rod that will look as good then as it does now.

I asked Howerton to sum up “his” hot rod’s journey, and this is what he said.

“SO-CAL did a beautiful job, and I’m so glad that Bill allowed the car to be finished first class. I’m really proud to be a part of the AMBR guys and be included in the SO-CAL legacy.”

Transition accomplished.