This year marked the 49th Annual L.A. Roadsters Car Show and Swap and this year was the 34th year being held at the Pomona Fairplex in Pomona, California. The event was established in 1960 by the Los Angeles Roadsters Car Club.
The magnitude of attendance for early era models and the comprehensive scale of vendors and its swap meet have earned this event the title of the “greatest Roadster show on Earth.” This is one of the country’s biggest events paying homage to roadsters of course – but also dragsters, asphalt shakers, salt flat racers, and early era customs. On top of all this, it’s been giving car loving father’s something to look forward to every year during Father’s day weekend for almost half a century!
Every year, people come from all over the world to celebrate Father's Day and to pay homage to the classic roadster and hot rod. Photography: Mike Alexander
The sheer amount of cars present at this show is beautifully overwhelming, and we know all too well what the sight of chrome and the smell of exhaust fumes can do to an individual’s composure. Amongst all the amazing custom cars in attendance there was an expo that was uniquely special.
This year’s L.A. Roadsters event featured the AMBR Legends Exhibition. This exhibit rounded up and brought together twelve historically significant roadsters, for the first time ever, under the same roof. On top of that, Sunday featured a beautiful U.S. Army Color Guard presentation with a magnificent artillery salute in honor of our armed forces. As if gorgeous cars weren’t enough, they threw in the big guns just for good measure.
There was also a celebration for the 40th anniversary of American Graffiti. The Fairplex’s Building #4 showcased music from the iconic film as well as appearances by Candy Clark and Bo Hopkins. They spent the day chatting with guests and spreading the spirit of nostalgia.
The Roadsters Car Club also honored the loss of members Hugh Mason and Bill Townsend this year. The event’s printed program paid tribute to both the members and their club cars with testimonials honoring their lives and contributions to the club. Rod Authority expresses its condolences to the family and friends of Hugh and Bill, we send out our prayers to those who mourn your passing, but will remember your contributions and spirit of camaraderie for generations to come.
Roadsters were lined up in every direction as far as the eye could see.
The Roadster is one of the most iconic cars in the hot rodding world. From its humble beginnings in the 20s, the Roadster became a model canvas for the first wave of hot rod enthusiasts that emerged between the post-depression and World War II era.
Southern California is often regarded as the birthplace of hot rodding. The region encompassing Los Angeles County and the interspersed desert flats that dotted the territory were a hotbed for an underground culture of economically disenfranchised yet innovative community of gearheads.
Straight line duels with souped-up coupes provided a much needed rush for those who had lived and breathed war for half a decade. It was also an escape for those whose daily life was highlighted by financial and social hardship. Ford roadster Model T’s and Model A roadsters comprised a majority of the early hot rods due to the fact that they were cheap, plentiful, and lightweight. Having no top and only a single seat, they were ideal for racing on the salt flats of Southern California.
Image Street Rods brought out a few top builds to wow the crowds including this fresh debut ’49 Lincoln. Stay tuned for the FULL exclusive feature.
Since hot rodders typically owned no more than one vehicle, these vamped up rides doubled as daily drivers as well as their prized competition cars. The all-around role of these vehicles lent itself to spreading the culture of custom hot rodding all over the West Coast and eventually across the country.
The standard list of customization we swear by today was inspired by necessity and increasing the performance of the hot rod during the first wave. Stripping parts was intended to decrease unnecessary weight; fenders, running boards, ornaments, and even the windshield were thrown out. The end result was a streamlined, lightweight, no frills vehicle.
Raking, the repositioning of either a grille and/or windshield, was done to decrease wind resistance. The big and little tire combination was a two-fold upgrade, the small front tires further lowered a car’s front end making it more aerodynamic while large rear tires improved gear ratios at high speed. Louvers were manually cut into the hood, body and rear to improve engine cooling and to vent trapped air.
Here are just a few examples of modern custom rods who's form emulates the first wave of hot rods and salt flat racers.
What some consider stylistic musts in today’s hot rodding community were factors of customization that catered to convenience and function back in the day. Practicality and resourcefulness defined this culture of cars in the L.A. and So Cal hot rod scene – not flaunting luxurious upgrades – that is the true spirit of the hot rod.
The Los Angeles Roadsters stay to true to that tradition of streamlined flat racers and still pay homage to many of the greats. With basic paint, dropped tops, and a subdued version of notorious aerodynamic stances, their cars channel the spirit of the first wave. And although many of their more modern rods have creature comforts, they still pay respects to those past traditions.
History Of The L.A. Roadsters C.C.
The Los Angeles Roadsters are an important part of Southern California’s identity. Founded in 1957, the club has expanded from its humble beginnings to include over 30 active members, 11 lifetime members, 19 associate members, and 5 honorary members all sporting pre-’36 Roadsters.
In 1960, just three years after the birth of the club, the Roadsters pooled their resources and through joint efforts of family and friends, established the very first show and swap meet. It has now evolved into a Father’s Day tradition. Every June under Southern California’s clear summer skies, people from all around the world come out with their families to spectate, pick, barter, and cruise in honor of one of America’s most iconic eras.
In 1968 the club was chartered as a 501(c)(4) non-profit corporation. The club dedicates its resources to community service and the preservation of American Hot Rodding culture. This year’s revenue was used to contribute to the Learning Center at Fairplex, the Child Development Center at Fairplex, Baldwin Park School District, Antelope Valley Veterans Association, Pegasis Riding Acadamy, the Petersen Automobile Museum, Palm Springs Cruisin’ Association, Ronald McDonald House, Anne Darling School, the Semper Fi Fund, Beacon House, and the Senior Resources Center in Colorado.
The Roadsters Car Club is a beacon for community and altruism in our society and the fact that passion for cars is utilized as a vehicle to spread love makes it that much better!
Joe Kugel’s ’32 Roadster – Winner of this year’s L.A. Deuce Award.
L.A. Deuce Award 2013
During this year’s Roadster show and swap, the recipient of the 2013 L.A. Deuce Award was celebrated. The award was presented at the Grand National Roadster Show in January. This award is highly sought after amongst Roadster enthusiasts and this year it went to La Habra Resident Joe Kugel’s 1932 Ford Roadster, congratulations Joe – gorgeous ’32!
This weekend was a showcase of slick paint jobs, smoothe lined rides, and some beautiful chrome power. Everything from flatheads to nailheads, blown and turboed, tripple dueced, and Hemied out – all could be found if you looked hard enough. Check out some of the magnificent engine work below that was showcased during this year’s event.
This year's show had some very impressive and unique engines spread throughout the show grounds.
Los Angeles to St. Paul Excerpt – Tall Tales From The West
After the festivities of this year’s 49th L.A. Roadsters Show and Swap, four club members and three guests embarked on a cruise from Los Angeles, California to St. Paul, Minnesota. Under the candy colored skies of the late afternoon three red highboy ‘32 Roadsters, one blue ’33, a ’32 sedan, a ’32 five window coupe and a Chevy Suburban gazed towards the Mountain range and made way for the Northeast.
Sunday night they arrived at Mesquite, Nevada. The quiet of the desert and the night heat offered something between peace and discomfort. Upon entry into Colorado, the ’32 sedan suffered a broken rear axle. In the face of hardship the stout Roadsters showed no signs of dismay and continued the journey ditching the ’32 to later recover it.
Continuing onward, the Roadsters entered the majestic Great Plains of Nebraska but misfortune tailed them. A ’32 highboy had lost a wheel setting the members back five hours behind schedule. Unvexed, the club made it into Iowa braving a night drive through a heavy rainstorm.
By Thursday afternoon, despite treacherous obstacles and the blind eye of Mother Nature, the Roadsters made it to St. Paul just in time to register their cars for the “Back to the ’50s” event.
This 2,000 mile expedition raises the bar for what it means to dig deep in the face of adversity and disregards the notion that there is a cutoff time for being able to enjoy a trip as grand as the Roadster’s experienced. One is never too old to set out on the open road and experience the vast expanse of our country’s landscape with friends, family, and a pack of roaring steel striding alongside through lone highways and desert roads.
Half A Century Is Just Around The Corner
Rod Authority would like to extend its gratitude to the efforts of the L.A. Roadsters and groups like them who sacrifice blood, sweat, tears, and oftentimes money out of their own pockets in order to establish and perpetuate an event. 49 years is an impressive run and would not be possible without the principle of community and passion at work. On behalf of our team, we salute the efforts of the men in red and white and we’ll definitely be seeing you next Father’s Day to celebrate Fifty Years!
Check out Rod Authority’s exclusive GALLERY of this year’s 49th Roadsters show below: