Written and Photographed by Steven Bunker
We had the pleasure of walking the floor at the 67th Sacramento Autorama – one of the longest running indoor car shows in the world. The event is known to attract the country’s top custom cars. Radical customs, mild customs, and custom rods flock here with such prestigious awards up for grabs such as the Custom d’ Elegance and King of Kustoms awards along with the Bagdasarian, Barris, Bertolucci and Bailon awards. It is a must attend for custom stylists and fans alike!
With over 500 custom cars, hot rods, muscle cars, pickups, and motorcycles scattered throughout the Cal Expo Pavilion buildings, we bounced the entire grounds to take it all in. Many buildings were dedicated to specific genres of vehicles but the majority of the show’s top cars are placed together in the main two-story hall with customs ruling the roost.
The doors opened on Friday at noon and the show is open all three days this weekend with the major awards being announced last evening and the rest to be handed out on Sunday afternoon. Here’s a quick peek of our top 10 favorites at the 67th Sacramento Autorama!
Unveiled just a few weeks ago in Pomona at the Grand National Roadster Show, Matt Taylor’s “The Fool’s Goldster” 1927 Dodge is on display this weekend in Sacramento. Taylor’s throwback customized roadster body was seriously modified before dropping it over the Z’d frame. Many outer influences are seen in the work Matt did from the Alexander Brothers to Roth. The majority of the work was done by Matt’s own hands with the yellow and Murano pearl paint being applied by none other than Art Himsl.
One of the cars in the 25th Anniversary Roseville Rod & Custom display is Matt & Colleen Beckdolt’s 1954 Chevy Sedan which was built in 2008 by Ben York and his crew. If you remember back that far, it was a Top 5 finalist for Goodguys Custom of the Year. The car came back to California for York’s celebration from South Dakota and it plans a western swing of shows through spring. Riding on an Art Morrison frame and powered by a hearty 572c.i. fuel injected big block, the Beckdolt’s Chevy is one of the main attractions and really pops with PPG Indy / Shamrock green paint with a House of Kolor pearl White roof. Evod Industries built the one-off wheels and the Sherm’s Plating is looking as good as new after all these years!
Rarely do we come across a customized 1959 Edsel but Bruce Van Etten of Citrus Heights, CA let his imagination roam and the outcome was pretty spectacular! Named “Redemption”, Bruce’s Edsel is as custom as custom gets. The silver and black custom interior mimic the over-the-top paint job. Topping it off are wire wheels and white striped tires. This one is a true show stopper!
Ray Poletti of Seattle, WA hauled his 1940 Lincoln Zephyr down to Sacramento and it fit right in at this world-renowned custom show. The body modifications started with a five-and-a-half-inch chop followed by peaking the hood and cowl. The fenders were molded seamlessly and a complete engine cover artistically hides the 350c.i. small block under the hood. The taillights came off a 1937 Zephyr while a full custom leather interior decks out the inside fitted with A/C.
“The Mistress” 1951 two-door Mercury came from Vacaville, CA and is owned by Steve Santos. As the saying goes “it takes a village to raise a child,” and that adage applies to Steve’s heavily customized Merc. Many hands built “The Mistress” from the metal fab to upholstery, but the paint job is the real eye catcher which Steve handled himself. Credit needs to be given where it’s due so Steve was quick to thank Secret Speed for the metal fab, Engrave It Inc for the engraving, Sherm’s for the plating, Tri Valley glass, Lucky 7 Customs for the top chop, Roadmaster Rod & Custom for the molding modifications, ABC Upholstery and C&C Customs for the many one-off parts. This was a 2016 Top 5 Finalist for our Custom of the Year and easily the finest paint job on the floor.
The late Richard Zocchi’s 1961 “Super 88” Oldsmobile was brought out of a semi-retirement to show in Sacramento. In true Zocchi fashion, the Oldsmobile body has been extremely manipulated with a ’61 Ford Starliner roof being stitched featuring a ’67 Camaro rear window, ’60 Merc grille, ’60 Buick headlights and handmade skirts by Flin. All body work was performed by John Aiello with the paint being applied by Art Himsl. Bob Divine handled the custom pink interior while Bill & Tom Fraser took care of the engine and suspension work.
Adding to his already impressive car collection is Tim Kerrigan from Sonoma, CA. Tim’s 1963 Buick Riviera sports PPG Brandywine paint while rolling on Billet Specialties wheels. We caught up with Kerrigan for a moment who told us he recently purchased this car from Ohio and that it was originally built by Hot Rods Forever. Flirting with the line of custom and custom rod, Kerrigan’s Riv features a 5.7 liter LS1 V8 under the hood with Flowmaster exhaust and a 4L60E transmission. The interior was reworked to resemble the stock appearance, but it now sports a new Ultra Leather interior with Auto Meter gauges fitted in the dash. Keep an eye out for the ravishing Riv as Kerrigan plans to hit the show circuit hard this year!
“GM” Joe Cusumano designed and built his radically customized ’54 Merc dubbed “Tangerine on Ice” as a tribute to the late, great Blackie Gejeian. Cusumano’s Merc is more than just a tribute to Blackie. Back in July of 2016, Blackie approved of the new House of Kolor paint that was prepared by The Glass Shack, while HOK owner Jon Kosmoski approved of the name “Gejeian Orange”. Not only did Cusumano design and build his radical hardtop custom, he also handled the engine and drivetrain work as well as final wiring. The intense amount of body work and paint was taken care of by GT Motorsports while Dave Stoeckel Interiors stitched the custom white leather interior.
Fresh off its prestigious AMBR win in Pomona at the Grand National Roadster show, the highly-anticipated Mullholland Speedster designed by E. Black, and coach built by Hollywood Hot Rods for owner Bruce Wanta – it made significant history last night. The custom roadster captured the World’s Most Beautiful Custom award making it the first-ever car in the 67-year history of the Sac AutoRama and the GNRS to capture both! It was also awarded the historic Sam Barris Award. The car was designed and built around a ’36 Packard grille shell and even after spending a weekend in Pomona drooling over it, we were still picking it apart in Sacramento finding things we hadn’t seen before. Check out our Grand National Roadster Show Coverage for more on this one! Congrats to Troy, Bruce and the entire team on their historic achievement!
The famous Betty Elizabeth Shampoo Truck of Joe Bailon was recently found and purchased by Bob Dron of Isleton, CA and re-debuted at the Grand National Roadster Show just last month. As many will recall, the car…err…truck has deep-rooted history in our industry as it was originally built in 1952-53. For a refresher, the 1949 Ford Convertible was heavily customized with modified ’46 Olds bumpers, a ’51 Ford top grille bar, ’53 Pontiac taillights, chopped three inches, sectioned another five inches and has a removable custom-made lift off top. Caddy power is under the hood. The team that tackled the restoration consists of Nickell’s Customs for the metal fab, Kandy Man Ramirez for the body & paint, San Joaquin Chrome, Ron Mangus interiors, Steve Fernandes striping and Tony Gomes with Tri-Valley Glass.
We first stumbled across the “Showmad” ’57 Chevy Nomad at the 2016 SEMA show in Las Vegas. Built by A&M Deluxe Customs Inc, Ron & Dianna Maier from Hillsboro, OR, are the proud owners. The heavily customized mad wagon rides on an Art Morrison chassis with a custom A&M crossmember for the Dutchman Motorsports IRS. The roof features a two-inch chop while the fender openings were raised two-and-a-half inches in the front and two inches in the rear. The rear hatch is now one-piece with hidden struts and an electric window. A unique fresh air intake was molded and styled into the hood while the iconic “bullets” in the front bumper were removed. The stainless-steel exhaust featuring Magnaflow mufflers exits through the rear bumper. When it comes to power the Showmad is no joke with a 427c.i. LS7 engine under the hood pumping out over 500hp to the rear billet five spoke wheels.
The newest creation from stylists John D’Agostino and Oz Welch is “Rita” – a coach-built custom 1958 Packard concept built as a tribute to Hollywood movie actress Rita Hayworth. A strong contender in the radical custom convertible category, “Rita” is already a huge hit at the Sacramento Autorama with both the media and spectators alike. The unimaginable amount of body mods performed by Oz Kustoms grabs everyone’s attention as well as the bright purple House of Kolor paint. An AccuAir air ride system was installed on the stock chassis by Oz & Kyle Welch and Rita rolls on Coker wheels and Coker wide whites. John D’Agostino never disappoints!