Indy Style Wins at Grand National Roadster Show

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.

2012 AMBR Perspective

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.

2012 AMBR Right Profile
2012 AMBR Left Side Detail

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.

2012 AMBR Interior

An Indy-style Roadster with aluminum shell buckets providing minimal accommodations for a passenger – or is that “riding mechanic?”

First Runner-up – IMO

2012 AMBR Candidate SylvesterIII Engine
SylvesterIII Undercarriage
SylvesterIII Profile
SylvesterIII Front
Sylvester III Left Side Engine

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?

Honorable Mentions 

2012 AMBR Contender 1929 Model A Nail-head

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.

2012 AMBR Candidate 32 Riley-Ford
1932 Ford Riley OHV Conversion

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. 

2012 AMBR Contender Flat Black 28 Ford
2012 AMBR Contender Flat Black 28 Ford - Plywood Shell Bucket Seats

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.

2012 AMBR Contender Livin the Dream

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.

 Flatheads Forever

2012AMBR Contender 1928 Ford W/Flathead
2012 AMBR Contender '33 Ford American Speed

Two more AMBR Contenders, these upholding the honor of flathead Fords. Top: 1928 Ford Roadster “Hot Rod.” Bottom: ’33 Ford “American Speed”

1012 AMBR Contender Merlot

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.”

2012 AMBR Contestant Marmon V16
2012 AMBR Contestant Marmon Detail

 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!


About carmacarcounselor

I'm one of those people that friends call "that car guy," except I've made it into a profession. Since 1988 when a friend found my help in choosing, finding, and negotiating for a new car was worth a fee, I've helped countless people, listening to their car questions and challenges, and helping with their car purchases, insulating them from the adversarial process that is the new car retail model today. Their word of mouth is my only publicity. My newsletter CARMA won the description "The clear crystal ring of truth" from award-winning automotive journalist Denise McCluggage. Now I'm going global!
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5 Responses to Indy Style Wins at Grand National Roadster Show

  1. Ashley says:

    Corrections: Sylvester III was built by owner Paul Shaughnessy, from New Metal Kustomz near Santa Rosa, CA… not Steve Lyman. And its actually a ’32 Ford. Sylvester II competed in the GNR show in 1962, then was forgotten only to rust for about 40 years before Paul found and restored it impeccably to its original show condition (or better)! Gorgeous car, and Paul is incredibly talented (and only 30 years old)!.

    • Thanks for the correction, Ashley. I try to take a picture of the entry form of ech car as I photograph them and that one seems to have gone missing. I mistakenly used the info from the Merlot Roadster. I’ll make the correction and acknowledge your comment. Let me know if I get your name wrong.

  2. Hi Carmacarcounselor.

    We noticed your story on the Grand National Roadster Show, 1927 Roaster winner and would like to run the story and your images on our website the Shannons Club ( – We are frequently seeking rich motoring content for this online community which was developed by Australian Insurance brand Shannons. With over 15,000 members this site is a social networking website site for motoring enthusiasts.

    Could you please email by Friday 10th August with permission to proceed.

    Thanks and regards,
    Erin @ Shannons Insurance Australia

  3. Hey, I think your blog might be having browser compatibility issues.
    When I look at your website in Ie, it looks fine but when opening in Internet Explorer, it
    has some overlapping. I just wanted to give you a quick heads up!
    Other then that, awesome blog!

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