The Grand National Roadster Show, 2020

David G. Fox

AMBR Competition

Monte Belsham's "'32 Kugel Muroc No. 4" is the 2020 winner of the America's Most Beautiful Roadster trophy.

Several years ago, Jerry Kugel commissioned the artisans at Marcel's Custom Metal Shaping to create ten steel "Muroc" highboy roadster bodies. Perhaps it's simplest to say the design of these hand-formed bodies represents a highly modified 1932 Ford. This car was initially completed by Angie's Auto Center for Nick Barron, and wore red paint with a tan interior. Kugel Komponents supplied Muroc body number 4, a chassis complete with their independent front and rear suspensions, plus other associated parts for the build.

Fast forward a few years, and the car came under the care of Monte Belsham in Houston, British Columbia. Monte "thought it needed to look more like a hot rod." So, the car and a list of changes went to Chandler, Arizona and Squeeg's Kustoms, where Doug massaged the car here and there and then conjured the flawless repaint and those delicious flames. Gabe's Custom Interiors is credited for the upholstery. The aluminum top, reminiscent of the one on the "Nickel Roadster" and quite complementary to the Muroc, was formed by Matt Tomb.

The Chevrolet LS-1 engine sports Hilborn fuel injection and is backed by a 4L60-E automatic.

Jerry Kugel was obviously very delighted to see one of his "babies" in the big show. And, it won!

Resplendent in red is Ken Katashio's posthumously completed 1932 Ford "K's Roadster."

In 1989, Ken Katashio (1967-2015) had the opportunity to obtain a Stage 2 Deuce Factory (Carl Fjastad) chassis that had been brought to Yokohama by Deuce Factory Japan. Ken's dream was a "life time long project" to build a roadster, starting with that chassis. As funds permitted, parts for the build were accumulated, and the car was partially mocked up. Parts included an all-steel Rod Bods body, Dearborn Deuce fenders, 383-inch SBC, Richmond five-speed, Halibrand quick-change, PS Engineering kidney bean wheels, etc. When Ken passed away suddenly, Shun Kasai of Deuce Factory Japan and other close friends took the task to complete the car in memory of him. The accumulated material in Ken's garage was taken to Andy's Rod Works in Chiba for body finishing, paint, and final assembly. Upholstery work was completed by Car Interior G2 in Yokohama. Ken's roadster debuted at the Mooneyes Show, December 2019.

"Lil Evil" is the 1932 Ford roadster designed, owned, and built by Mike Dwight, of Gilroy California. The long list of credits accompanying the car include: Roy Brizio and Jack Hageman, Jr. for chassis fabrication and design; Mr. Hageman again and the late Mel Green for sheet metal fabrication; Mr. Green again for machine work; and Sid Chavers for upholstery. The drivetrain consists of a 302-based SBF measuring 347 cubic inches from Ford Racing, a Tremec five-speed transmission, and a Winters quick-change differential. Much like the collapse of a massive star, the black motif of "Lil Evil" emits little light for photography.

Jack channeled the body over the frame rails on a bit of a taper, beginning at 4.5 inches at the firewall, less to the back. A bright ornamental bezel covers the floor drop behind the door at the channeled area; it was hand-made by Mel Green.

Gary and Deborah DeVine, Glendora California, competed with "War Paint," their 1932 Ford roadster pickup. Built by Denny Lesky at Ionia Hot Rod Shop in Michigan and Dave Shuten at Galpin Auto Sports in California, the truck features PPG Envirobase paint by Hot Dog, chrome by Advanced Plating, upholstery by Elegance Auto Interiors, and EVOD wheels.

The "Ivy-Reed" 1927 Ford roadster is owned by John Ivy of Azusa California. The centerpiece of this 1957 Porsche 356 Stone Grey hot rod is the engine. Built by JMS Racing and Schrader's Speed Shop, the motor is based on a 276 cubic inch 1951 Ford block and carries Tattersfield-Baron heads and an Edmunds intake. A 1939 Ford transmission backs the flathead; the differential is a Winters quick change.

The gorgeous track nose was shaped by Luc De Ley. Bodywork, spraying the Porsche paint, and final assembly were handled by Schrader's Speed Shop. Stitching was credited to Rogelio's Auto Upholstery.

Gary Mower, Big River California, 1932 Ford. The Chevrolet LS-1 powered "Mower Roadster" features fabrication and paint by Showtime Rod & Custom, wiring by Get Wired, and an interior crafted by Ron Mangus.

Tom Firth and Jodi Lant, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, brought their 1932 Ford "Brownstone Roadster" to the AMBR competition. The car was built by Stoker's Hot rod Factory in Upland. Elegance Auto Interiors, also in Upland California, did the upholstery.

Danny Eichstedt's "Leg Show" Model T was the decidedly non-traditional hot rod cover car on the January 1971 issue of Rod & Custom Magazine. Owned and refreshed by Walter and Thenia Sigsbey, Los Angeles California, the 1915 Ford roadster leaves very little to the imagination every picture is worth a thousand words.

Changes to the car since 1971 include the cut down Deuce-style shell with a Dan Fink grille, the Jaguar rear end modified by Curt Hamilton, and Wilwood brakes. The body and top are still credited to Eichstedt and the gas tank to Jim Babb. (Babb undoubtedly built the abbreviated but original T-style radiator shown on the magazine cover, also.) Current paintwork is credited to Dan Gogh (Dan Hansen) Master Refinishing with striping by Rhythm, and props for plating go to Shilling Metal Polishing. Interior and top stitch work was accomplished by Ron Mangus.

Adams Hot Rod Shop (AHRS) down in Georgia built this Lincoln V12 powered 1934 Ford for Brandie Laird of Bear Delaware. Hence the alliterative name, "Lady Laird Lincoln." American Speed Company supplied the body, and Dennis Elmore at AHRS constructed the custom chassis. Additional fabrication work is attributed to Chad Adams and Gary Mealor. Chad and his crew applied the paint after massaging the body. The Lincoln V12 came from H&H Flatheads.

Dustin and Dawn Smith's Spokane Washington based 1927 Ford rolls with an original Ford steel body shell, save the superbly crafted and louvered aluminum panels plus the cut down Deuce grille and shell. The unusual engine choice for the "Twin Fan Special" was a 226-inch Ford inline six. Power from the six goes through a 1939 Ford transmission to a quick-change rear end. A lightweight Ford V8-60 supplied the front axle.

George Poteet's splendid 2019 AMBR winner, the "Three Penny Roadster" out of Pinkee's Rod Shop.

Chip Foose's 2000 AMBR winning design "0032." The 1996 AMBR winning "Boydster II" was originally drawn by Chip and built by Hot Rods by Boyd (Chip's employer at the time). A couple of years later, when Chip was on his own with Foose Design, the owner brought the car to him for a refresh more closely resembling Chip's original renderings. Thus was born "0032." Like all of Chip's efforts, "0032" looks terrific still today.


Rods & Customs in the Show

The original "Kookie" 1922 Ford Model T roadster pickup, now restored by Roy Brizio Street Rods, was presented in a prime space within the area of the AMBR cars. Looking perhaps better than ever, maybe it should have been in the competition? (It was already judged in 2019 at Pebble Beach.) Brizio credited Vintage Color Studio for body and paint, Sherm's Custom Plating, Sid Chavers for upholstery, and John Gianoli for rebuilding the 1952 Cadillac V8.

Ross and Beth Myers, of Boyertown Pennsylvania, rescued Norm Grabowski's trend defining T via Dana Mecum's Indy auction in May 2018. Norm sold the car in 1959 to customizer Jim Street, who promptly made it pretty much unrecognizable. Street toured the car for a while, then it was basically hidden for half a century. Fortunately, when the car came to light, it was found that under the repaint, the twin blowers and dually rear tires, the garish seating and the windshield-high exhaust pipes, and the quad headlights, things were pretty much as Grabowski left them. Cue the Brizio crew to perform their magic.

All of this reminds me. I need to try again to find 77 Sunset Strip on DVD.

Note: Background information for the "Kookie" car taken from Mecum Monthly Magazine, Volume 7, Number 1, as available on their website. As this is written, pictures of the restoration are shown on the Brizio Street Rods website.



A good complement of Mercury cars typically participates in this event; most are heavily customized, some not so much. I thought this time to give them their own block. Some of these Mercurys are in the show for class judging, some are shown as part of a vendor's display, and others are there for the fun of participating in the outdoor cruise in.

The first group consists of customs in the Nick Matranga idiom. These 1939 and 1940 Mercury coupes each have a chopped top that is also revised to flow smoothly into the rear deck, radically transforming what, as a stocker, is a rather bulbous car. Each has its own additional "streamlining" modifications.

1939 Mercury, John Foxley, Pitt Meadows, BC

1940 Mercury, Mike Bello, Chula Vista, CA

Ever since Sam Barris chopped the top and smoothed the body panels on his nearly new 1949 Mercury, radical customs based on the 1949-1951 series of two-doors have been aspirational.

The Chevas Family's 1949 with a Dick Dean Chop

1950 Mercury, Richie Valles & Juli Fennel, Burbank, CA

These last two Mercurys are nearly stock 1954s. The single photo of the white-top car shows a Monterey hardtop. Its only modifications appear to be Dodge Lancer hubcaps and the faux spare tire cover on the rear deck. Looking very straight and original with just a little patina is one of the rare Sun Valley glass-tops.


Outdoor Cruise In

The weather on Saturday was quite good, even by LA standards for late January. That brought out a very nice array of machinery for the outdoor cruise in.


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AMBR Competition

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