The Grand National Roadster Show, 2014

David G. Fox


AMBR Competition

A more traditional look has pretty well taken over the AMBR competition. It's been coming for a while. While fit and finish, chrome and polish still rule, there was not a single swoopy, reimagined '32 Ford body in the field of eleven left for the final competition. There was a legitimate Bonneville racer in the mix, plus a couple of speedsters and a competition-inspired car. Of the rest, none could be called a resto-rod, too many changes for that. Even traditional might be a stretch. In all, it was a nice mix of early open hot rodded cars. Some variant of dark red or burgundy was the most common color.

Bill Grant's full fendered '32 looked really sharp in '53 Chevy horizon blue. It's mostly early Ford, but with nice custom touches like '50 Pontiac taillights, '41 Ford DeLuxe bumpers, and beyond extensive chrome underneath. An early '60s feel is nailed down with the wheel and tire combination.



Ronald Goodwin brought his darker blue '32 all the way from Smithville, Tennessee. The very traditional car has a Brookville body and a SBC with three-twos. For me, there is something of a late '50s early '60s vibe with this car, too, given the white firewall and very pretty and unusual for today interior.



Steve Tracy's Gerber Special from Syclone Motorsports is a legitimate land speed car, with 35 passes at over 200mph. A Dodge Cup motor running through a Jerico four-speed pushes the purple C/STR.



Blue Steel is Larry Maddox' '32 roadster. A SOHC Ford dominates.



The story is that Paul Tregembo's '31 roadster pickup was built largely by auto shop students at Roseville High School in Michigan. Help with funding for the project came from donations to a charitable foundation set up in conjunction with a local Methodist church. What a great way to get some young folks involved in the hobby.



Paul Gommi's '32 phaeton looks for the world like a restored stocker, except for that chopped top. Most of what you see is early Ford, but actually there are numerous functional changes, like the ScoT blower. At a casual glance, the chop makes the car seem like a much larger classic.



The Havasu Speed Equipment Low Boy is Dan Van Auken's '32 Ford. The Brookville body is channeled 2 1/4 inches, and every piece of the exterior has been massaged or especially constructed to get the perfect stance. Note the raised rear wheel arches and the top that stretches past the rear of the cockpit, so the crown is moved back for additional headroom. The power train consists of a 304" flathead, T5, and Winters QC. Just enough sparkle?



Charles Matus' flathead powered '27 Ford speedster is called Chocolate Rose. The body has been lengthened a bit and the custom chassis gives the wheelbase quite a stretch. Quarter elliptic springs up front are mostly hidden within the frame rail ends.



Bill Enderson's '23 "Tub for Two" is also something of a speedster. Here's another 304" flatty with three-twos.



The '34 Chevy two-door phaeton of Richard Chiarenza sports forty- seven modifications to the fiberglass body. Scoot comes from a 671 supercharged 454/T400 combo going to a C4 Corvette IRS. Front suspension is Heidt's.



And the winner is..... apparently difficult to capture. Wes Rydell's '35 Chevrolet four-door phaeton received the big trophy this year. Beautiful in burgundy and black, design props go to Chip Foose. Looks like a mid'60s Corvette FI under the hood.



Last year's winner still excites me.


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Patron of the Arts

So. Why does George Poteet's Blowfish have an Edsel grill depicted within the racing team graphic painted on the hood? I've seen this car numerous times, and never really focused on the image to wonder what that meant.

I don't mean to imply here that I know George Poteet. What I know anyone could know from reading coverage of his cars and activities in the magazines. He wouldn't know my name, but I have talked to him several times at various events. Perhaps I'm just a bother, but when I've taken an opportunity to chat, I've tried to pick a time when he appeared not to be busy. He has always responded very graciously. Late on Saturday I spotted George sitting alone near his most recently constructed '32 sedan delivery. I sat in the next chair and asked why the graphic on Blowfish. He talked around the question a bit, but the final answer was that he just likes Edsels, '58s at least. It turns out we have something in common. He has (and I would very much like to have) a first body style Ranchero with an Edsel front clip, wagon taillights, trim, etc. This particular vehicle has great sentimental value for him as is, so don't expect a major buildup. We talked some more about his number of land speed runs over 400 mph, Tennessee, etc. It wasn't a terribly long conversation, but it was an interesting peek into his personality.

George's orange '34 coupe, the Goodguys 2013 Hot Rod of the Year, was sitting nearby, and I wandered over to take a snapshot. David Lane is as personable a young man as anyone has the right to expect. He was standing by the '34, which he built, and when he was free I asked a little about the car and its owner. I remarked that it seems as if George is on a mission to employ as many hot rod shops as possible and to make them famous. David referred to George as a "patron of the arts." Like with painters, etc., of old, patrons are necessary for the hot rod art form to survive and grow. He indicated that a builder couldn't hope for a better client, one who is easy to work with, allows freedom to create, etc. High praise indeed. When I got back to the hotel, I looked at the FastLane Rod Shop's website. At that point there was extensive material presented devoted to the build of George's '34. It's amazing all of the subtle changes and creative work that went into developing a car that in the end looks, quite simply, like a perfect '34 Ford hot rod.


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More Cars from the Show

Without much ado, here is a sampling of snaps from the wonder of the Grand National Roadster show apart from the AMBR competitors.

Speaking of..... This fabulous fastback Studebaker wagon belonging to Dennis Varni was also at SEMA last fall. The FE motor it sports features at least the outward parts of a prototype fuel injection system demonstrated in the June 1959 Hot Rod Magazine. The E400 valve covers on the Hot Rod cover motor marked it as a 361 inch..... Wait for it. Edsel. It put the E in FE.




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Race Cars

The Bonneville display was very impressive with the array of machines, old and new, presented. The first two (old and new) are from Dennis Varni's stable.









I thought Arizona's CopperHead was the fairest example from the drag racing exhibit. A Buick motor always helps in the looks department.


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Other Inside Stuff

Tom Branch's channeled and Studebaker powered '32 is a welcome sight always on the Salt Flats during Speed Week.



James Hetfield and Marcell's Custom Metal's coachbuilt '48 Jaguar.



Some intestinal fortitude to mess with a MkII. It is still pretty though.



Call this portrait "Grey Three-Window with Ardun."



The Iron Orchid is a nice tribute to '60s show car excess. Ford 427 for show and for go?



Enjoy your beer? Move it along, please.



Gorgeous Square Four.



There can never be too many Mercs. I still like Hegman's the best.








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Outside Stuff







This Fleetline just moved me. The smooth body, orange paint, and Oldsmobile hubcaps. Oh, and every old Chevy should sit like this and rock a gorgeous Buick nail head.





Okay, so it's nice and all. But the reason it's here is because it reminds me of mine (1967-1973). It even has '60 caps. But it needs to be an XL with white buckets and pinstripe Wide Oval tires on 7x15 Boss 302/429 steelies.


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