The Grand National Roadster Show, 2016

David G. Fox

The AMBR Competition

Once again, the America's Most Beautiful Roadster competition was dominated by the modern interpretation of the traditional hot rod aesthetic. The same can be said of Ford bodies original or reproduction. There were no true race cars this time, although some certainly celebrated hot rodding's high performance base. Model A Fords were well represented among the contenders, along with some '32s and a pair of '36s. Marcel's supplied the sheet metal work for two exquisite presentations, one in French Art Deco style. Last year's competition was perhaps overwhelmed by the selection of eighteen entries. This year, the field consisted of thirteen roadsters. And, a few were builds first seen in years past.

Darryl and Terri Hollenbeck, of Concord, California, own this year's AMBR winner. Credited with the build are Dan Webb, Cory Taulbert, and Mr. Hollenbeck. As one would expect, given the tenor of the field, the tone of the winner is quite traditional. Specifications include a Brookville reproduction '32 Ford body, Edelbrock engine, and Sid Chavers upholstery. Darryl is an award-winning painter, and his final application of product to the precise bodywork is flawless. You decide if the color choice termed Rotten Avocado Green in the cover feature on the car in the issue of The Rodder's Journal that came out just days before the show was an inspired creative choice or hubris.

Hollywood Hot Rods was credited with two builds in the AMBR competition. First up is "The Long Beach Legend," a 1936 Ford Deluxe roadster owned by Jeff Romig, of Three Rivers, MI. Specifications on the car were sparse, but the look is certainly traditional, and the execution is worthy of contention. Twelve cylinder flathead? Must be a Lincoln.

The second car credited to Troy Ladd and Hollywood Hot Rods is Wesley Rawlins' '32 Ford roadster pickup. Wes is from Charlotte, NC. The body is Brookville's interpretation of what an American '32 roadster pickup should have looked like, and the killer engine started as a Ford 460 with Kaase Boss 429 parts.

Recalling the efforts of French coachbuilders during the 1930's is James Hetfield's "Aquarius." Termed a '34 Packard (derivation of the frame), the Rick Dore build uses bodywork by Marcel's, Art Morrison/Accu Air suspension, and Ron Mangus upholstery. I find the presentation sophisticated, stunning, and actually quite subtle, all at the same time.

Maureen Magnuson brought out "Magnatude," which she and her husband Jerry, plus a host of hot rodding luminaries, put together a few years back. The long team list provided included the DeLay's (Marcel, Marc, and Luc), Chip Foose, and the Kugels.

Ron Simm, of Desert Hills, Arizona owns one of several Model A bodied cars in the competition. His late roadster pickup is called Salt Scorpion. A hand-built tube frame supports a Brookville '31 body, '34 grille shell, 396 Chevy with Offenhauser cross-ram intake, 700R automatic, and Ford nine-inch. Ron credits Tom Medley (and Stroker McGurk) with providing inspiration for this car to an "Iowa farm boy back in the '50s."

Another late-A bodied car is Jack Stirnemann's flathead powered 1931 roadster. The '49 Merc motor connects to a C4 automatic and then on to a Halibrand quick change. Numerous subtle changes include: sectioned grille shell, body channeled two inches at the cowl, '32 cowl vent and windshield, bobbed fenders, rolled rear pan, etc. A full set of fenders on a car of this vintage is a nice deviation.

Jon Wright brought the second 1936 Ford roadster to the party. Jon has CustomChrome Plating in Grafton, Ohio. Called a tribute to Dave Bell, this car proves that very low and very black is still very cool. Included in the display was an original Dave Bell design rendering, to which the end result seems faithful. Rod or custom? It doesn't matter what you call it, and it is a roadster. I love the Lincoln hubcaps and white walls.

The white '32 smoothie belongs to Gary Matranga. Originally designed and constructed by Dennis King back in the late '80s, the white, Ford-bodied roadster features 401 cubic inches of '57 Chrysler, a 727 automatic, and a CAE quick change between independent rear axles. The motor is BDS-supercharged with Hilborn four-port injection.

"Blue Bayou" is also one of this year's A-bodied AMBR contenders. Owner Chris Evans brought his '31 Ford over from Scottsdale. Charly's Garage in Mesa, Arizona is credited with building the car to the look of Chris' 1956 high school dream. The steel body with '32 dash is channeled an inch and a half over a custom frame based on '32-style rails. Under the hood is another Hemi, this time a '54 331, with six Stromberg-style EFI throttle bodies from Auto Trend and a Hunt electric magneto. Trans is a TKO 600, and the rearend is from Winters.

Next up is a 1929 A-V8, built to Tom Lieb's design by Pete Chapouris, Jimmy Shine, et al. This car had been "percolating" in Tom's head since acquiring the roadster back in 1958. Among the numerous modifications are one-inch channeling of the body over the '32 rails and lengthening of the cab area by three inches. Nice to see a (modified) '29 shell used here, along with early-style wires. Head and tail lights are from a '23 Wills Ste. Claire. A 59-AB flathead from 1948 spins a 4.125 inch SCAT crank to get 288 cubic inches. Torque goes to a Halibrand third member between '36 bells and '40 brakes.

Phillip Ray's smoothed '33 roadster, called "Nugget," is out of Auburn, California. It sports a Magnuson supercharged LS-2, 4L-60 automatic, and a nine-inch Ford. Front suspension is from Jerry Kugel's shop.

Dean and Tammy Scott's very traditional appearing deuce highboy runs Ford power with a somewhat modern racing bent. The engine is described as a 1970 Boss 302 running Auto Trend EFI; it is backed by a late Ford AOD and a Winters V8 quick change. ASR Performance and Customs in Grass Valley, California accomplished the recent rebuild of the car for the Scotts, who live in Gilroy.


Rods & Customs in the Show

Last Year's AMBR Winner.

Could'a been a contender? Brian George's blue '31 in Altered Street Roadster class sports one of many Ardun engines spotted throughout the show.

Wayne Carini's "Speedway Roadster" is a Moal build based on a '32 Ford chassis fitted with torsion bar suspension. The hand-formed aluminum body shrouds a '48 Ford flathead "hill climb" motor.

Cherie Zocchi gives special thanks to her husband Richard "for his 'SLIGHT' input in the design of this car." The stunning pearl pink 1958 Cadillac has body work by John Aiello, interior by Freddie Diaz, mechanicals by Tom Fraser, and plating by Ogden Chrome. Art Himsl applied the paint, complete with the usual (for Art and Mr. Zocchi) outlined scallops featuring wonderfully subtle color variations.


Land Speed Exhibit


Outdoor Cruise In


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