The Grand National Roadster Show, 2015

David G. Fox

The AMBR Competition

If the 2105 America's Most Beautiful Roadster trophy winner looks like a Bobby Alloway car, it should, because it is. Larry Olson's stunning 1933 Ford has numerous body modifications, but still looks very much like a '33 Ford - something at which Alloway excels. The fit, finish, and detail, are, as they must be, exquisite. And the small (241 inch) Dodge hemi provides an unusual touch. The sixty-year old engine runs modern fuel injection disguised as six carbs and is hooked to a Legend Super Sport five-speed transmission. Larry is from Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

This yellow track-nose T belonging to Urban Hirsch of Stanton, California, received the Blackie Gejeian award. The original 1927 Ford body is now filled out with leather covered bomber seats, Johnson disk brakes, and a drive train that consists of an aluminum SBC, 700R4 transmission, and a nine-inch Ford differential.

Per O. Martinsen, of Oslo, Norway, showed another of my favorites from the competition. Specifications: Brookville 1932 Ford body with the doors lengthened and switched to suicide opening, '36 style roll to the cowl and door tops, '32 Lincoln instrument cluster, fitted luggage, SCoT supercharged 284-inch flathead, Tremec five-speed, Halibrand quick-change, '32 front axle dropped four inches, Buick drums, and 16 inch wire knock-offs from Motor Wheel Service in the UK.

Ted Davis' Oklahoma City based 1931 Ford roadster pickup sports a '32 grill and shell, Duval-styled windshield, Donovan aluminum four with a supercharger puffing into a Riley two-port head, and '39 Ford transmission.

Another roadster pickup in the hunt was the Sun Seeker, owned and built by Steve Lykken of Solvang, California. The body is Brookville's version of the 1932 Ford RPU. The drivetrain is SBC, 700R4, and nine-inch Ford.

Greg Meyer, of Tigard, Oregon, may have taken a cue from last year's winner when he decided to bring a Chevrolet to the party. Starting with a 1933 Chevy coupe body, A&M Deluxe Customs fashioned this beautiful, steel reinforced, candy tangerine roadster with brown leather interior, LS6 engine, 4L65E transmission, and modified Jaguar IRS. Jerry Kugel's shop supplied the independent front suspension.

From Arvada, Colorado, came Larry Christensen and his Rivet Roadster. Pinkee's Rod Shop built the gold 1932 Ford and stuffed it with a fuel injected 392 hemi, TKO five-speed transmission, and Winters quick change. The low, flat stance is partially achieved with sectioned frame rails; the body is not channeled.

Jack and Gail Taylor from my old hometown of Knoxville, Tennessee, brought out the Speedstar Spyder. Termed a 1934 Ford, the car uses a Rat's Glass body and emphasizes its wedge shape with a '37 Ford style grille. A Nissan 5.6 liter DOHC V8 and six-speed power the Spyder. The suspension, independent front and rear, was designed by the owner.

How sweet is this? Dustin Smith brought the Mint T down from Spokane, Washington. The project started with a stock 1927 Ford body and a custom frame. All of the running gear, from engine to wheels, is late Model A.

Bert Diehl, of Mesa, Arizona, had Charly's Garage put together his "Disabili T." Also a 1927 with an original Ford body, this one uses a B motor with a Serr-Miller OHV conversion, '39 transmission, and a Winters quick change differential center with '40 Ford bells and brakes.

Okay, the last two were kinda stockers. This one has virtually no old parts. It's called a 1930 Ford, but, really, pretty much all the metal you see was hand formed in Sweden by a fellow called simply "Heavy." I spotted Paul Beck sitting, looking at the front of this car and sat down for a brief respite. Paul, who's built many more than his share of '32 Ford roadsters, said, "The more I look at this, the more I like it." I had to agree. The dramatic wedge shape and the overflowing 540 cubic inch, Hilborn injected hemi (with Viper six-speed T56) certainly suggest a competition car, probably land speed inspired. But the affable owner, Robert Hoffman, of Haninge in Sweden, says it was intended purely for the street; maybe that's why the fully independent suspension.

Beau Boeckmann and Galpin Ford have recreated in great detail the Hot Rod cover car (November 1960) and muse for the Monogram model kit, the Grass Hopper. As before, this car uses a 303-inch '49 Oldsmobile engine with a 4-71 blower, '37 LaSalle transmission, and Halibrand quick change. The body is an original 1915 Ford.

The Veloce Spyder is Willard Stryker's Penngrove, California, based 1928 Ford. Certain styling elements suggest a somewhat modern sprint car inspiration, but there are many vintage cues. The early A body rests on a '32 Ford frame that also supports a Weiand-blown flathead with a pair of Weber carburetors.

A Packard-like grill and twin turbochargers escaping the engine compartment alter what would otherwise be a fairly conservative 1932 Ford. The burgundy and black paint, fitted luggage, and Kugel independent suspension all seem pretty comfortable. But the 1600 horsepower 428-inch Ford is extreme. Perhaps the duality led Mike Gordon, of Fallbrook, California, to name his car Psyco. (Mike, where's the h?)

Hillsboro, Oregon, is home for Jerry Logan and his Diachuk Special. Built by Bob Diachuk, the black 1932 Ford sports a hood with large NACA ducts on the sides to help move air around a SBF. A Winters QC lurks out back.

Remember when black cars were pretty much unheard of in a competition like this? Not any more. Dale Fode, of Redwood City, California, calls his all-steel roadster 34.5. I guess that means something beyond a 1934 Ford; it very well is in terms of fit, finish, power, and luster. It's full-fendered, it has a laid back grill and lots of other sheet metal mods, plus it has a supercharged LS7 engine, 4L60E transmission, and Kugel independent suspension, front and rear.

Ross and Beth Myers brought the newest body-style roadster to the big show, all the way from Boyertown, Pennsylvania. Built by Iron Hill Hot Rods in Delaware, the 1936 Ford is unusual in several respects, including the use of a McCulloch-supercharged 430 cubic inch Lincoln MEL motor. The engine connects to a Tremec five-speed and a Halibrand Champ rear end.

I remember the Bob Morris roadster, but I guess I'm out of the loop. Was that Nickel 1 or Nickel 2? And plating aside, wasn't that one, and isn't the one below, so inspired by the Doane Spencer car that they should somehow pay homage to that in the name? Anyway, I love this car (and those predecessors).

The Nickel 3 1932 Ford is owned by Gene Hetland, of Oak Grove, Minnesota, and was constructed in Oregon by Mike McKinnett. The original Ford body has the requisite '36 roll to the cowl and door tops. In front of the Duval-style windshield is a pair of cowl vents; a stainless steel top, brushed here and polished there, takes off from the windshield. Under the smooth hood, a 302-inch Ford engine is graced with an ultra-rare pair of prototype four-valve heads (made by Ford in 1993) and Hilborn fuel injection. The motor is backed by a Tremec five-speed transmission and a magnesium Halibrand quick-change. Wheels are coated magnesium.

Eighteen cars. I'm not privy to the politics involved here, but it seemed like a lot. One might wonder if the racecar inspired theme for AMBR cars of late has about run its course. Some of those here might have been a bit far out. The winner and many of the perhaps more attractive cars were kind of smooth, but still with authentic appearance and choices around drivetrains, etc.


More Inside Cars

Aquarius is a collaborative effort of James Hetfield and Rick Dore. A custom Marcel's body rests on a modified '34 Packard frame with modern air suspension. The body reflects influence from the "work of French coachbuilders" and the "sinister elegance born from American customizers of the late '40s and early '50s."

Here we have two takes on the modified 1950 Ford coupe. The first illustrates the beautiful Valley Custom way of slicing a car in days of yore. The white car, of course, appears less modified, but none-the-less on the ground.

And here we have two takes on the 1936 Ford three-window coupe. This time the white car is the old one - it's the restored Pierson brothers' ride.

John D'Agostino provided another wonderful custom in the form of this 1968 Buick Riviera.

A few cars from the celebration of the 1940 Ford.

And more.


Outside Cars

What a nice 1956 Fury.

Every old F1 Ford needs a bit more motor.

And more.


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