The Grand National Roadster Show, 2019

David G. Fox

AMBR Competition

George Poteet's Three Penny Roadster is the 2019 Grand National Roadster Show's America's Most Beautiful Roadster trophy winner. I'm sure there are many old-car guys, even some with a fair amount of knowledge about pre-war Fords, who will give this car a casual look and think, "great looking Ford." As is often the case in life, and especially with an AMBR winner, the devil is in the details. These pictures will only tell a little of the story (likewise, this text). The gist of it is: There may not be one part on this car that would fit a stock 1936 Ford.

If you think the profile is handsome, and quite like a lowered '36 Ford, it is. But, the wheelbase has been stretched three inches, all of the new length dedicated to expanding the length of the cockpit. The grille shell leans back, via pulling it forward at the bottom, so the hood retains the original length. Correspondingly, the fenders, ahead of the front tires, have also been pulled forward. The windshield posts, which include a 2.5-inch cut, lay back ten degrees from stock, and the lower body line has been altered.

If you think the car has a traditional appearance, it does. But, there is an untold number of custom-machined parts in it billet, in other words. Examples come in expected places, and in others that are not. Some include those raked back windshield posts, hood side vents, running board inserts, head and tail light bezels, the steering wheel, dash trim, seat tracks, door hinges, body mounts, engine valve covers, radiator tanks, gas tank ends, etc., etc. Then there are those machined wheels, complicated knock-offs with somewhat obscured vents, created for this car by Mike Curtis.

Custom modifications to the '36 sheet metal abound. The fenders have well defined peaks over their tops from end to end. The raked grille shell required re-fitment of the front of the hood and the area between the shell and the lengthened front fenders. Note the deck lid, which is described as "1939 style" and is cut out for the gas filler. Covered with upholstery, etc., perhaps every inner panel of the body is custom formed. There are partial belly pans underneath, sometimes in conjunction with compartments for electronics, fuel system components, and such. Plus, a glove box is accessable through a door in the floor.

Those compartments nestle in areas between the hand-formed rails of the custom built frame. The frame mounts an independent front suspension and a Ford 351 Windsor engine/TKO 600 five-speed transmission combination, trailed by a Winters banjo rear end. But, enough of the details. Where did the name come from?

Elsewhere on this website, it is observed that George Poteet is a patron of the art of hot rod design and construction. At this level it definitely is an art form. Noteable cars have been constructed for him at hot rod shops across the country. Some shop owners could say he established their careers. Word has it that George doesn't hover, doesn't micro-manage, rather he provides the genesis of an idea and the funds, then relenquishes control to let the builder create. Story goes that George visited Pinkee's Rod Shop, in Windsor, Colorado, after the car was painted. He asked what the color is, and was told by Mike Peratt, "chocolate milk." Then George related that when he was a kid, the cost of chocolate milk was only three cents. Hence, the Three Penny Roadster.

By the way, Mike Peratt and his Pinkee's Rod Shop are already well established. Mike built a Ridler Award winner in 1998, is a past Grand National Roadster Show Builder of the Year, and is a member of the Detroit Autorama Circle of Champions Hall of Fame. What George and Mike have created with the Three Penny Roadster is a custom coach-crafted automobile in the hot rod idiom.

If Mr. Poteet's AMBR winning roadster is a coach-crafted custom, then this darkest-of-blues blue roadster is a stripped-down, bare-bones race car, with every bit as much attention to detail, fit, and finish. And, it, too, has innumerable custom-made parts.

The development of the H&M Tulsa Roadster was a collaboration of effort between race car fabricator Jackie Howerton (a Tulsa native) and Steve Moal. These two met when Steve came to the Indianapolis 500 in 1974 as a racing crew member. Documentation available at the display suggested that much of the design, engineering, and fabrication work on the car was completed by Mr. Howerton, with secondary fabrication and finish work completed at Steve Moal's shop in Oakland.

The official registration tag listed the roadster as being owned (entered) by Steve Moal, but elsewhere in the documentation, the owner was listed as Bill Grimsley, a former sports car racer.

When I used the phrase bare bones above, I meant it in a very positive and literal sense. Note the exposed frame rails and shrouded transmission running through the cockpit, with its minimal, purposeful upholstery by Sid Chavers. The floor of the cockpit is the belly pan, below the frame rails. The belly pan extends through the trunk area. Thus, the gas tank and entire rear axle and suspension are aerodynamically enclosed. Another item of note is the ribbed aluminum panel at the firewall. This bulkhead is actually a motor plate, securing the rear of the engine block. The small block Chevy, with vintage-style valve covers, was built by Chas Rose. Sherms Plating was credited for the bright work on the car.

A tremendous amount of detail is found in and around the front suspension of the Tulsa Roadster. The chassis sits very low and the axle rides in front of the grille shell, lengthening the wheelbase. Custom fitted grille bars in the Deuce shell are sculpted for clearance behind the axle. Jewelry-like bits and pieces link the axle and shocks, the spindles and longitudinal torsion bars that are the springs, etc.

Cory Taulbert, of Clarkston, Michigan, built his and Ashley Taulbert's 1932 Ford roadster. Cory had help from Vintage Color Studio for paint, Sid Chavers for the interior, H&H Flatheads for the engine, Astro Performance for the transmission, Chris Schlaff for the instruments, Jon Wright's Custom Chrome for plating, plus Stefan at Authentic Detail. Accompanying the display was a map showing the 3300-mile route over which the all black roadster was driven from the Detroit area to the 2019 Grand National Roadster Show. Brave indeed.

Chad Adams' blue '32 is dubbed "Cool Hand Luke." The car was constructed at Adams Hot Rod Shop, in Rydal, Georgia. Body, paint, and interior work were spearheaded by Chad, with the custom chassis credited to AHRS' Dennis Elmore. The windshield came from Dick Rodwell, and Butch Henderson supplied the custom wire wheels. Powering the roadster is a 312ci Ford Y-block built by Ellis Simmons and backed by a T5.

Tweety Bird, as seen in the November 1958 issue of Hot Rod Magazine. Originally constructed in 1951 by Jim Govro of Austin, Tweety Bird has been restored by Rex Rod & Chassis, of Johnson City, using a variety of Texas contractors. The 331ci Cadillac was put together by Keith Tardel, following machine work by Texas Engine Machine. Shorty's Custom Paint handled massaging the body and wielded the spray gun. The interior was redone by Carlos Castaneda, in Austin.

The red and black 1924 Buick touring car belongs to Ryan Rivers, of Fullerton, California. Built by the owner, the Model 24-SIX-45 still uses Buick power, now a 263ci straight eight from 1952. The I8 is backed by a GM 700R4 automatic and a mid-50s Pontiac differential. The top mechanism originally mounted to a 1923 Reo; it has been chopped eight inches. Paint was credited to Mark Mahood, with pin stripes by Frank Smika. Gabe Lopez did the upholstery, and the bright work was finished by Buena Park Chrome. Owner-crafted components include the radiator shell and artwork, engine parts like the valve covers and manifolds, the wheels, numerous trim items, the dashboard, etc.

Built by Dan Kerbo's Kustom Klassics, Ann and Andrew Bowen's "Vintage Spirit" 1932 Ford Roadster features early hot rod power by way of a 276ci Mercury flathead motor and a '39 Ford top loader transmission running Zephyr gears. A Halibrand quick-change with '39 Ford axle bells and Lincoln drums finalizes the drivetrain. The front end features a stainless steel axle and radius rods, together with So-Cal brakes. All those parts fit a frame made up of original 1932 Ford rails and K-member plus Model A front and rear cross members. The grille shell and firewall are Ford, but the body came from Brookville. Mick's Upholstery in Middlesboro, Kentucky upholstered the interior with Townsend cowhide and German square weave wool carpet. A 1933 Dodge supplied the gauges. The Bowens live in Corryton, Tennessee.

Ray Enos' 1930 Model A was put together by Hilton Hot Rods, with engine work by Ross Racing Engines, interior by Mikey Seats, and paint by Bucky's Ltd., Tuki, and John Shank. Ray lives in The Plains, Virginia. Old school looks cool with a polished and injected Ardun and painted wire wheels.

The dark red phantom 1933 Ford Phaeton belongs to Tom and Joanne Sargis, of Redwood City, California. An original Ford Phaeton body was converted to a two-door, which required not just filling the rear door areas, but also fabricating lengthened front doors, revising inner bracing, and more no mean feat. Steve's Restorations provided help with the conversion. The body was also mini-tubbed to fit wide rear tires, as the phantom's drive train consists of a supercharged 502ci big block Chevy, B&M Turbo 400 transmission, and Currie nine-inch Ford. Campani Color applied the PPG paint and Ron Mangus provided the stitch work. Wheels are from Jim Farnham. Final assembly was completed by Nitro Street Rods, in Sparks, Nevada, with detailing by Stefan Lungstrum. Red Lizard Moldings made the special trim pieces.

Like a piece of art, the body on Gary Corkell's AMBR entry came with a certificate of authenticity. The Phantom Phaeton 1932 Ford wears number three of the thirty-two bodies, designed by Chip Foose, that Brookville Roadster intends to produce. One Off Rod & Custom further modified the body, which was then positioned on an Affordable Street Rods "spec" frame. The suspension consists of a mix of Johnson's Hot Rod, SoCal, Super Bell, Posie, and Ride Tech parts. "The heart of the car embraces a 1953 291 Desoto Hemi with 6 deuces, custom vintage intake, T5 5 speed transmission, Winters Quick Change rear and a custom aluminum drive shaft." The overall profile of the finished car is altered by modifications such as a laid-back grille shell with a custom front apron, an extended and reshaped hood and cowl, re-arched rear fenders, and custom running boards. The headlights are 1937 Cadillac units, and the grille came from Alumicraft. Gary brought the car from Middletown, Delaware.

"Ndeuced" is Cliff Mattis' radically modified, full-fendered 1932 Ford. The brown roadster was constructed and painted by Lucky 7 Customs. Rich Santana sewed the beautiful interior, and Sid Chavers made the top. Chrome was applied by Sherm's Plating. Hill's Rod & Custom did the exhaust and plumbing. Cliff resides in Vacaville, California.

John and Tina Evans, of Camino, California, call their 1927 Ford Model T touring car "Teed-Up." Joe Brusaschetti's J B Custom Designs in El Dorado rebuilt the car, which had already been a hot rod. The ubiquitous small block Chevrolet is used here, with fuel injection by Autotrend in Diamond Springs. Lots of red paint was sprayed on by Legends Motor Car. Once again, this car presents upholstery by Sid Chavers. It also presents chrome by Sherm's Custom Plating in Sacramento.

Boise, Idaho's Jim and Jan Grant entered this traditional-on-the-outside 1929 Ford in the competition. Termed a "home built" hot rod, construction was based on a TCI Pro Street Chassis. Within that is fitted a Chevrolet LT1, GM 200R4, and Ford nine-inch rear end. The injected LT1 was the responsibility of Mike Herring. All of the sheet metal is original Ford steel, with the exception of the hood. Bodywork and fitment was completed by Roger Allen in Boise; the owner applied paint. Jim stayed fairly local for subcontractors on the build. In Boise proper, Kenny's Rod Shop did fabrication, wiring, and exhaust, and EPSCO did powder coating. Northwest Chrome in New Plymouth did the plating. And, Brandon Herzberg, at Interior Revolution in Caldwell, trimmed the inside.

"Timeless," Tim and Dawn Kerrigan's Sonoma, California, based 1933 Ford, was built by Dominator Street Rods from a design by Eric Brockmeyer. The supercharged DOHC 4.6l Ford engine, with Imagine eight-stack injection, feeds power through a Tremec five-speed transmission and Winters quick-change differential. Both the front and rear suspensions were hand-built and are independently sprung. Shaun Love supplied the bespoke EVOD Industries wheels. The '33-style body was hand-built by Paul Blatt and painted House of Color Candy Brandy by Steve Martinez. Sid's Custom Upholstery did the tasteful leather interior; Sherm's Custom Plating did the chrome. The bright, full-length belt-line molding lends a nice custom touch.


Model A Celebration

One GNRS building was devoted to acknowledging the importance of the Model A Ford to rod and custom endeavors. Invitees included past AMBR contestants, record setting race cars, magazine cover cars, cars from builders of note, and interesting modern builds. Five photos below show a sampling of AMBR contenders, starting with the first winner, in 1950, the Bill Niecamp roadster. That car is currently part of the Petersen Museum. Second is the Dick King car, which shared runner-up status with the Niecamp roadster in the 1951 competition. Two views show builder George Barris' Ala Kart, which won the big trophy twice. The Ala Kart was named AMBR in 1958 and 1959. Restored to its exact original Barris appearance by Roy Brizio Street Rods prior to the 2008 GNRS, the Ala Kart now belongs to John Mumford. The last photo of this group shows Dennis Varni's 1992 winner, built by Boyd Coddington (left), and John Corno's 1980 winner, built by John Buttera and Mike McKennett (right).

The Sadd, Teague, and Bentley land speed racer has been restored by Al Teague, and now resides in the Price Museum of Speed, in Salt Lake City. Talk is that the Holmes, Kugel, and McGinnis number 265 car may make its way from Jerry's shop back to the Salt Flats for more record attempts. Last in this group is 22Jr, stitcher Tony Nancy's early drag race car.

The late Gary Meadors' gorgeous yellow track nosed roadster.

Jake's tub.

Magoo's (Dick Megugorac's) shop-defining car.

Scott Miller's Washington Blue '31 Fordillac is super low, partly due to a five and a half inch chop and a six inch channel. The beautiful mill is a '50 Cadillac 331 cubic incher, backed by a T5. Ford wire wheels from 1935 sport 1932 Packard covers.

Street Rodder writer the late Bill Burnham's blue baby.

Craig Lawson's 1928 A pickup. Craig was one of my roommates way back in college. At the time, his dad had a nearly new '64 Thunderbird and a one-owner '52 Victoria. I remember seeing Flathead parts splayed out on a workbench at the house in Idaho Falls, somewhere around 1966. So, Craig came by the Blue Oval fetish quite naturally.


Rods & Customs in the Show

Numerous builders reserve exhibition space in the show. Chip Foose had a corner diplay this year, with builds going back several years. I am generally enamored of his designs, and the Eldorod shown below is no exception. Here is some history on the car, paraphrased from information on the Foose website. This 1948 Cadillac was originally completed at Hot Rods by Boyd. It was the first car Chip designed at Boyd's when he was chief designer there in the 90's. After Chris Andrews purchased the car, he was interested in Chip's somewhat different initial vision for the project. Using his original concept sketch, Chip completely redesigned the front and rear bumpers and changed the grille and grille insert. Maroon when it left Boyd's, Eldorod was repainted a brilliant blue, as per the old sketch. Also new are the Carson top, roofline with chrome trim, leather interior, and "recut faux white-wall wheels." Most excellent.

Following are two cars from Bobby Alloway. First are some images of a 1958 Corvette given the Alloway treatment. After those is an image of the 1958 Edsel that was also seen at SEMA last October/November.

Three cars are pictured from Roy Brizio's extensive display. The big '32 Lincoln Victoria deserves at least two photos. The Lincoln is owned by Larry and Juana Carter, of Los Gatos, and, yes, it is a hot rod. Power comes from a Ford Coyote. The sweet traditional SBC powered red '32 highboy belongs to Joe and Kathy Rebozzi, of San Jose. Finally, the blue '32, with Kugel suspension and a Roush 402 Ford, belongs to Beth Myers, of Boyertown, Pennsylvania. Beth's car uses another of the Brookville Phantom two-door phaeton bodies.

Rick Dore owns and designed the art deco inspired, coach-built Illusion. The body by Luc DeLay at Marcel's sits on a chassis built by Art Morrison and Steve Wilk.

Two cars from the heyday of the radical custom. The Jade Idol was recently refurbished by the man who created it in the late '50s, Gene Winfield. The sectioned 1956 Mercury features 1957 Chrysler quarter panels and a superb faded paint scheme. On this and the next car, the tops appear to be surprisingly stock.

The Marquis was originally created by Bill Cushenberry in 1963-65. Starting with a 1956 Ford, the Marquis is also sectioned. It incorporates 1959 Buick rear quarters, and most of the Ford panels have been reworked. Note the asymmetrical peak on the hood; it was a'60s thing. The car still looks neat today. It has been restored by John Aiello and Jose Meredia of Acme Auto.


The Suede Palace


Outdoor Cruise In

The weather, quite good even by LA standards for late January, helped deliver a very nice array of machinery for the outdoor cruise in. Forty Fords were well represented.

Conventional wisdom says don't try to customize a '40 Ford coupe, you'll just mess it up. Tony Miller's blue beauty below illustrates that maybe one just has to try a lot harder. A HAMB posting from January 2012 describes much of the build up to that point. There is also a Custom Car Chronicle posting from February 2015 that shows later progress. In addition to photos of the redesign as it advanced, the later article shows the "digital restyling" that helped define the look of the car. The bottom line is that this custom, a coupe to begin with, has been sliced here, stretched there, melded with windshield and side glass parts from a '51 Victoria, and given a Carson top and a hand-made faux Mercury grille. The result is an elegant convertible, one with a surprisingly graceful profile.


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AMBR Competition

Model A Celebration

Rods & Customs in the Show

The Suede Palace

Outdoor Cruise In

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