Too Tough to Call
At the big car shows you usually can handicap the winners of the big prizes within a couple of cars. This year’s Grand National Roadster Show last weekend in Pomona was no exception, but that didn’t make it easy.
There were two cars that really socked me in the eye among the America’s Most Beautiful Roadster candidates. One was a car in the style of an early Indianapolis roadster. That one won the award, but in my eye it would have been tough not to chose “Sylvester III,” a low and menacing candy red Deuce with a spectacular chromed nail-head V8. Maybe I am too easily seduced by sparkle.
Bill Lindig of Houston Texas had the 2012 America’s Most Beautiful Roadster award-winner built by the famous So-Cal Speed Shop on 1927 Ford bones. The design is beautifully conceived and flawlessly executed.
Oval track roadster nose with classic Ford tail, neatly blended with sharp details like chromed leading and trailing arms and matt-finished twin side pipes with the headers poking through the hood.
An Indy-style Roadster with aluminum shell buckets providing minimal accommodations for a passenger – or is that “riding mechanic?”
First Runner-up – IMO
Can you blame me for being seduced? Paul Shaughnessy of Santa Rosa (Thanks for Ashley Gibb’s correction) brought Sylvester III, his brilliant ’32 Ford. He’s compensated for missing the AMBR award by wins in the Paint and Undercarriage categories. Oh, yeah – and Engine, too. Ya think?
While we are talking Nail-heads (the Buick V8 with the vertical valve covers – an early OHV engine favored by many hot rodders) Here’s a nice example powering Eddie and Kevin Baumann’s self-built ’29 Model A.
Don Smith of Bedford, Texas brought a handsome ’32 Ford powered by a rare Riley OHV conversion on the Ford Flathead, and won the Best-Dressed Flathead Award, along with Best Display.
A flat black finish on a Lamborghini or Rolls might be in questionable taste, but on a dry lakes racer maybe not. Heck, lots of works in progress ran in hot rod primer. Maybe that was the reasoning of Larry Reynolds of Boise, Idaho, behind his ’28 Ford Roadster. Proper flathead Ford V8 with Offenhauser heads provides power, while plywood shell bucket seats promise little comfort.
The judges can get up close & personal, so they can appreciate the details – like hand-woven Italian leather – that gave Dennis Varni’s ’33 Ford “Livin the Dream” the Interior Award. Black interiors unfortunately are not photographer-friendly. Mark Vaughn of Autoweek quotes builder Steve Moal saying the blown V8 is so fast the Lincoln Greyhound hood ornament lost its skin – it’s a skeleton.
Two more AMBR Contenders, these upholding the honor of flathead Fords. Top: 1928 Ford Roadster “Hot Rod.” Bottom: ’33 Ford “American Speed”
Steve Lyman of San Juan Capistrano, CA chose a Ford V8 to power his ’33 Ford Roadster “Merlot.” No surprise there, but this is the first seven liter (427 cubic inches) Ford I’ve seen called a “small block.”
Hayden Groendyke, of Enid, OK, based his entry on a classic Marmon V16, of which only 400 were made. It’s usually a given that you stuff a big motor in a car to make a hot rod, but when you start with eight liters and sixteen cylinders, what would be the point? Hot rods are usually small and light. This thing is HUGE!
As I wrote last year, this scene is a bit of terra incognita for me. My indoctrination was into road racers, not dry-lakes speed runs – independent suspensions and unsprung weight, not nine-inch Ford rear ends and GMC blowers – British Racing Green, Italian Rosso, and German Racing Silver, not flames, metal flake, and pinstripe patterns. But as you learn when you start talking to people no matter the event, it’s all just cars. Start talking to someone about his project, and then try to shut him up! But why would you? There are so many great stories out there!