Pomona, CA – For the last 68 years, America’s finest hot rod roadsters have gathered each winter in sunny California to stake their claim as America’s Most Beautiful Roadster. Yesterday was “Judgement Day”, as twelve fresh and fantastic hot rods crossed the judge’s stand here in Pomona, California at the 68th Grand National Roadster Show. The historic event, originally based in Oakland, California has been based here at Fairplex in Pomona, CA since 2006 and has once again found its rhythm as one of hot rodding’s premier gatherings.

We were lucky enough to witness the AMBR judging and get the first glimpse at the contenders. Ranging from coach built, mega-budget concours-style behemoths to old school roadsters on a budget, this year’s field was as diverse as the men paying the bills.

Here is the dazzling dozen:

Photographs by Michael Harrington

Matthew Gordon, 1932 Ford Roadster Pickup

-Matthew Gordon, 1932 Ford Roadster Pickup

Matthew Gordon, Hueytown, Alabama – “Time Merchant” 1932 Ford Roadster Pickup

Styled in ‘60s show trim, Gordon’s Roadster was a one year build with Goolsby Customs. Mathew is all about hot rod Ford’s but his father is an “Olds Guy.” The Time Merchant blends the family tastes together beginning with a modified Brookville Roadster Body. The Goolsby gang kept the body pretty straight forward smoothing it, adding an Oakwood bed and a custom dash featuring a ‘50 Olds cluster before bathing it in a custom Glasurit metallic blue.

Those fenders are ’36 Ford spare tire items. Olds flare rests between the frame rails with a 1957 380c.i. Rocket V8. The chrome beauty rings feature Olds centers. Yards of special finishes are courtesy of Advanced Plating. The award winning leather stitching is courtesy of M & M Hot Rod Interiors. If you thought Goolsby Customs just built muscle cars you’re sorely mistaken! This lil’ hot rod pickup is too bitchin!

Matt Taylor, 1927 Dodge Roadster

-Matt Taylor, 1927 Dodge Roadster

Matt Taylor, Concord, California – “The Fool’s Goldster” 1927 Dodge

Built in the East Bay Area on a budget mostly by Matt’s own hands, this throwback customized small block Chevy-powered hot rod blends Ed Roth elements with old world traditional roadster stylings. The Dodge Brothers body was seriously massaged before being channeled down over the kicked up and Z’d frame. The rear sculpting brings back shades of the Alexander Brothers while the steering wheel, based off a Dodge Polara is all Roth. The white Bob Divine stitched tuck & roll upholstery is period correct as are the steelies sporting ’56 Merc hubcaps with authentic Richard Zocchi bullets. The yellow and Murano pearl were sprayed by none other than Concord legend Art Himsl. Great job Matt!

32 Ford, roadster, hot rod

-Scott Hawley, 1932 Ford Roadster

Scott Hawley, Burlingame, CA – “Back in ‘47” ’32 Ford Roadster

Northern California’s Scott Hawley has turned out a steady stream of stunners mostly from the Roy Brizio stable but this flawless Brookville-bodied roadster was purchased from the estate of Glen Begor who had the car 75 percent complete before he passed away last year. Hawley and his partner Joe Rebozzi finished up the build together adding all original Henry steel from the cowl forward. After it was smoothed, both Darryl Hollenbeck and Darryl Schneider shot the custom mixed Washington Blue.

The tobacco brown leather interior is by Nor-Cal kingpin Sid Chavers as is the custom “Bop Top” with polished stainless buttons. Many factory original hot rods parts were used here including the ’40 Ford dash, column and steering wheel as well as original OEM brakes. Front & rear buggy springs are from Posies while Pete & Jake’s supplied the charged gas shocks. It sits perfect on a Super Bell dropped axle and thumps pretty good too courtesy of a throaty 383c.i. Chevy with T10 Borg Warner 4-speed. Original builder Glen Begor was born in 1947 hence the car’s name. This one is as traditional and as pristine as they come!

Dr Dan Pterson, 1932 Ford Roadster

-Dr Dan Pterson, 1932 Ford Roadster

Dr Dan Peterson, Austin, TX – “Hill Country Flier” 1932 Ford Roadster

Deep from the heart of Texas Hill Country comes this streamlined Bonneville inspired Brookville bodied deuce by Austin Speed Shop. With a remade cowl to fit the cut down DuVall windshield, it does truly look fast sitting still. Austin Speed Shop outdid themselves here with a house made chassis using American Stamping rails, ’32 Ford heavy axle by Super Bell, ’40 Ford wishbones, Roto-Flow vintage shocks, and real ’40 Ford backing plates with drum internals by Brian Bass.

The ’56 Chrysler 392c.i. V8 is equipped with four Stromberg 97s and you’ll quickly notice a unique combination of finishes, some from a house media blasting process and plenty of nickel by Advanced Plating. The hemi mill was machined and prepped by Billy “Roach” Cockrell. Inside is Espresso brown Relicate leather stitched by Cato’s Custom Upholstery and that vintage dirt track steering wheel is from Johnson’s Hot Rod Shop. The wheels, spinning vintage Veda caps, are from Rocket Racing and have been treated to the same media blasting process as other components. This car is way bitchin’.

Jim McPherson, 1934 Ford Phaeton

-Jim McPherson, 1934 Ford Phaeton

Jim McPherson, Nashville, TN – 1934 Ford Phaeton

Jim McPherson’s ’34 Ford Phaeton had a distinct sound when it pulled onto the judge’s stand. There’s good reason for that. Sitting atop the 400c.i. small block Chevy in his phaeton are extremely rare Al Barnes sprint car cylinder heads – killer’s in their time that were eventually banned from competition due to their efficiency! His cherry phaeton tugged on our heart strings as Jim and his machinist friend Bill Akin built this roadster entirely in McPherson’s garage.

A no frills black, brown leather, a 2-inch chopped canvas lid and loads of old school hot rod parts made it a favorite of ours. Rare, original Halibrand wheels are at each corner and there’s a genuine Halibrand quickchange out back. Interestingly, the firewall was never cut so the magneto had to be relocated on the motor. Thomas Industries supplied the trick solution. Neat guys with a neat car from Music City!

Shawn Killion - 1928 Lincoln Phantom Roadster

-Shawn Killion – 1928 Lincoln Phantom Roadster

Shawn Killion, San Diego, CA – 1928 Lincoln Hot Rod Roadster

San Diego Roadster’s member, belly tank racer, drag racer and hell raiser Shawn Killion set out in September to build a Lincoln inspired hot rod roadster and low and behold here it is in stunning hot rod maroon. The original ’28 Ford roadster body sits low but isn’t channeled as you can see. Stance is achieved via a radical 10-inch step in the back half. The rear crossmember is raised so high it takes up half the trunk!

Zephyr parts and pieces run through the car including most handles and other knobs. The iconic Zephyr speedo is centered in the dash, its white face offering a sharp contrast to the Ron Mangus maroon leather interior. The 331c.i. Chrysler Hemi is topped with a set of Stromberg 97’s and it rolls on steelies with Zephyr hubcaps of course!

Bill Grant, 1932 Ford roadster

-Bill Grant, 1932 Ford roadster

Bill Grant, Claremont, CA – “The Muroc Roadster” 1928 Ford Model A

Bill Grant and builder Terry Stoker of Stoker’s Hot Rod Factory in nearby Upland, California have built a car that could be transported in time to a dry lake bed. With a stock body coated in Centari black enamel by Albert DeAlba, stock frame, mechanical brakes and 1935 Ford wire wheels it retains vintage hot rod charm with immaculate fit and finish.

The factory B 4-banger has been hopped up with a “C” crank and a Miller-Cragar overhead conversion with two Stromberg 97’s. Factory transmission and rear end remain as does the stock suspension. Stoker made the headlight stands as well as the chopped, laid back windshield posts. Mark Lopez of Elegance Auto Interiors stitched up the properly appointed brown leather and cloth interior. Point it, stab it, and ride with the wind boys!

Bruce Wanta, 1936 Packard

-Bruce Wanta, 1936 Packard

Bruce Wanta, Bellevue, WA – “The Mullholland Speedster” 1936 Packard

Six years in the making, the Mullholland Speedster is back on the GNRS main floor after being shown here two years ago in bare metal. The finished product, a team effort between designer E. Black, coach builder Troy Ladd and owner Bruce Wanta, this car is on another level. Wanta was obsessed with the regal nature of a ’36 Packard grille, so he had a car built from scratch by Hollywood Hot Rods to sit behind the lavishly plated and polished grille. Builder Troy Ladd estimates roughly eighty percent of the car was hand formed, with sweeping pontoon fenders and vintage lines.

The team spent countless hours planning and plotting, redesigning and collecting rare vintage speed parts. The flathead Lincoln Zephyr V12 sports a set of Winfield Double D carburetors (the lost arc of hot rod carbs) as well as a vintage Latham supercharger. The chassis was designed as a figure 8 then welded up at HWHR. Featuring twin dropped I-beams in front with quarter elliptical springs, the rear features an equally elaborate set up with a Winter’s quickchange center on custom I-beam arms with quarter elliptical springs.

The handmade, gold coated wheel covers are anchored with Packard centers. Under the hand formed, lift-off aluminum top is a regal, concours-style tobacco leather upholstery by Mark Lopez/Elegance Auto Interiors. Mick Jenkins shot the “Mullholland Merlot” paint. Special cars like this don’t come around too often. Congrats to the entire team on their masterpiece!

Glen McElroy, 1937 Ford roadster phantom

-Glen McElroy, 1937 Ford roadster phantom

Glen McElroy – “After Shock” 1937 Ford Roadster

A Rick Dore presentation, Glen McElroy’s “After Shock” is listed as a 1937 Ford but that’s purely for show classification. This is anything but a ’37 Ford. The Art Morrison chassis may have components of a ’37 but that’s where it ends. Like Dore’s “Aquarius” – this coach built custom features a masterfully sculpted one-off body by Luc Delay who worked off an Eric Brockmeyer design. Other styling cues include the ornate Dan Fink grille, yards of polished trim pieces by Sherm’s Custom Plating, and an exquisite Ron Mangus Interior.

The unique color, bordering on a light champagne, is PPG material sprayed by Richie Viez. A full AccuAir suspension setup gets the ride height wherever McElroy pleases and it rolls on one-off wheels by Curtis Speed with Coker tires. We’re guessing it has an LS motor but does it really matter? This is another signature work from one of the modern masters of custom cars – Rick Dore.

James Hetfield - 1932 Ford roadster

-James Hetfield – 1932 Ford roadster

James Hetfield, Vail, Colorado – “Black Jack” 1932 Ford Roadster

Rock & Roller James Hetfield, front man of world renowned rock band Metallica is back at the Roadster Show with a period correct hot rod called “Black Jack.” This deuce roadster, built by Marietta, Georgia’s Mills & Co is quite a statement. Styled after a 1940s Southern California hot rod roadster it features only original Ford parts and genuine early speed equipment.

The body, floors, doors, hood, decklid, grille etcetera is all OEM. The windshield was chopped slightly giving the removable padded Carson top a bit of rake. The original Ford frame is equipped with a 1936 Columbia two-speed axle and the ’39 trans is fitted with Zephyr gears. The 1946 296c.i. 59L flathead has a hopped up Winfield Cam, Osiecki Racing heads, Edelbrock high rise intake and a Harmon & Collins mag.

For comfort, Hetfield will rock down the road in distressed leather upholstery occasionally looking down at the 1933 Dodge Instrument panel to check vitals. A few things come to mind here. Why haven’t we heard more of Mills & Co and who chased down all these original OEM parts, pieces and way-back vintage speed equipment? We’d like to meet them.

Don & Linda Lindfors, 1932 Ford roadster pickup

-Don & Linda Lindfors, 1932 Ford roadster pickup

Don & Linda Lindfors – “Boss 302” 1932 Ford Roadster Pickup

Built by the owner and finished in glorious “Hugger Orange” by Pete Santini, Don Lindfor’s ’32 roadster pickup is loud, proud and potent. Running a BOSS 351c.i. Cleveland V8, this hot hauler calls on tried and true hot rod materials such as a Brookville Roadster body and frame, a Winter’s quickchange, E/T Wheels, a top loader 4-speed and Mangus interior. Polished to the nine’s, loaded with louvers and ready for the road, you can guarantee once this one leaves the ‘Roadster Show floor, it will soon be screaming down Arrow Highway. What a bitchin’ homebuilt truck. Ya gotta build ‘em, then drive ‘em!

Gord & Carolina Gray, 1932 Ford roadster

-Gord & Carolina Gray, 1932 Ford roadster

Gord and Carolina Gray, Surrey, British Columbia – 1932 Ford Roadster

Built by Canada’s B & N Hot Rod Fabrication, Gord & Carolina’s deuce roadster is in the Doane Spencer tradition – black, laid back, down low and hot, hot, hot. The Brookville body is louvered, smooth and clean, and the polished flathead Ford V8 by H & H Flatheads is on point. The chassis is by Kiwi Connection and the Pete & Jake’s front end assembly has it sitting so perfect you’d think Alan Johnson was involved. But this baby is the pride of Canada at this year’s GNRS and we’re loving it. More applause for the interior by “Inside Edge.” This one might reside north of the border but it’s a Southern California hot rod through and through. It exudes both form and function!

Wayne Johnson, 1929 Ford Model Roadster

-Wayne Johnson, 1929 Ford Model Roadster

 Wayne Johnson, Hillsboro, OR – “Probiscus” 1929 Ford Model A Roadster

Designed and fabricated by A & M Customs with body & paint by Crossroad Customs, Wayne Johnson’s ’29 Ford track roadster hails from Oregon. Detailed to the nines, it has been smoothed and restyled to engaging proportions. The man hours in the grille alone make us shudder but we’ve come to expect nothing less from A & M Customs. They are masterful metal shapers who also shaped the custom dash etc. Cloaked in Sikkens “Crossroad Black,” the roadster is elegant yet menacing. Those rear tires might give some indication as to a dirt track lineage as does the 537 horsepower, 420c.i. small block Ford! Yay – a Ford in a Ford! You can’t see it but the Tremec T5 trans is polished and painted ahead of a narrowed 9-inch posi rear end. We’re digging the custom Dayton knock-off wires too! Neat car. Hope to see it sliding sideways a little this summer!