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56th Grand National Roadster Show - Being There

56th Grand National Roadster Show - Being There

26.1.05.  It's hard to believe but the word on the street is if you want to win the "Big Daddy" of car shows, the Grand National Roadster Show, (held at Pomona Fairplex over Jan 23-25) then a million bucks don't cut it. A cool mil' is just the cover charge, it doesn't even come close to guaranteeing you a chance at the coveted trophy.

Started back in '49 by Al Slonaker, the award for America's Most Beautiful Roadster has been bestowed upon a wide variety of rods that in the early days were either street roadsters of lakes racers dusted off and put on display. They weren't show cars by any stretch of the imagination. However, as man is want to, we couldn't resist throwing more and more baubles at them until sometimes they resembled circus wagons more than hot rods.

Best Display Award also went to the Hansen car which has more scoops than a Baskin Robbins ice cream parlour

Trends come and go and having gone through the Boyd Coddington "smoothster" phase this year's winner, built for  Paul and Erik Hansen by Steve Moal, evidenced a lot of blisters, scoops and grilles. There's no denying that the car, a '32 Roadster, which debuted for the 2004 Ridler Award in Detroit—which it didn't win—is a fine piece of craftsmanship if a little too busy for some tastes.

Mucho chrome adorned the 383 small-block Chevy motor of Paul and
 Erik Hansen's Steve Moal-built Roadster

Coming in at a lot less than the $1.5 million reported for the Hansen car, was a bit of an oxymoron—a finished rat rod. Styled after a radically lowered Model A Roadster pickup and built by Pinky's over a two and one half year period for a rumoured quarter mil', this was the one that attracted the crowds. They were camera deep all around it all weekend and sadly it didn't win.

Billy F Gibbons, front man for ZZ Top entered this sano traditional hiboy built by Rudy Rodriguez

There were other contenders: Troy Trepanier had a really beautiful Deuce Roadster on display but maybe it was too subtle for the judges. It was also placed away from the main contenders which didn't do it any favours.

Troy Trepanier's oh so subtle Deuce Roadster

Last year's winner, a '36 Roadster owned by Charlie Lambetecchio was there as was the reconfigured Roadster built by Barry White and featured in the Discovery Channel's Hot Rod Build Off TV show. Despite another chunk of cash invested in what reportedly already cost $1.3 million to build, this car didn't even pick up an award for anything other than being there.

JJ Barnhardt's SO-CAL built stack-injected 392 Chrysler Hemi-powered Roadster didn't even got a look in.

So, what does it take to win? Well, it takes either a lot of hours or, a lot of money or, both. You either do it yourself and invest the time or, you pay a professional and step up to the bar.  Right or wrong, that bar is constantly being raised and each year the investment, whether it be in time or money puts Al's tall trophy out of reach of the average rodder.

Rick Dore, known for his customs, entered this mint green custom '34 Roadster. An unusually nice car that deserved more recognition

That said, you can still make an impact as did the guy from Australia with his '55 Chevy stuffed full of Rolls Royce P-51 Mustang aeroplane engine. Now that was a car to take home.

P-51 Mustang engine-equipped '55 Chevy - and it fits!

'60s style customs are back - so much work!

Graffiti pair put in an appearance

Story & photos: Elliot Jacobs

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