Clear weather, rockabilly style, music for all generations, and of course, hot rods and customs to turn every kind of eye; the hot rod gods were smiling down this weekend as the Goodguys Rod & Custom Association pulled into Loveland, Colorado for the 16th Colorado Nationals.
Held at The Ranch Events Complex right along I-25, the show once again proved to be the Mecca for Front Range hot rodders, tempting enthusiasts from as far as South Dakota, Montana and even California to spruce up their rides and make travel plans.
Just like last year, we were lucky enough to be able to attend this unique “mile high” show firsthand and if we walked away with anything new this time around, it’s that hot rodders of all kinds aren’t afraid of a bit of altitude!
With a cold front threatening the eastern slopes of Colorado, we didn’t know what to expect for Saturday’s show when we woke up to cooler-than-average temperatures and tons of wind. But to our delight, we found that those who made the trip to Loveland for the 16th Goodguys Colorado Nationals weren’t deterred by a bit of Mother Nature’s charm and were setting up camp as soon as the show gates opened.
Adaptive as usual, many rodders were taking shelter in their vehicles, unwilling to let a bit of wind scare them away, but protecting themselves from the inconsistent Colorado weather at the same time. Although some hoods remained latched down and doors closed tight, we were able to get a glimpse at all kinds of build styles, generational changes and unique touches among the vehicles there.
And while a few show-goers remained somewhat inaccessible for the early part of the day, others took the wind in stride, making only slight modifications to keep their vehicles protected from damage while still showing it off to the crowds that scoured the event center’s lawn.
From matte finishes to candy coatings, the best paint jobs were on display at the Colorado Nationals.
As the day wore on and the wind died down, the crowds began to swarm. From early T-buckets to classic musclecars, the Goodguys Colorado Nationals provided eye candy for every type of automotive enthusiast. In true Goodguys style, we saw tons of first-gen Camaros lined up right next to ‘32 Fords and even a few lead sleds joining the fun as enthusiasts showed what they had put their heart and souls into over the winter.
Sitting on the lawn at The Ranch, some of the rides we came across were professional wonders while others took shape as extremely impressive garage builds.
Hot rod culture is known for its high-dollar stigma, but time and time again we were confronted by folks that with a little bit of cash and a whole lot of heart and dedication were able to transform their rides into show-stopping pieces competing right along side those built by some of the nation’s top builders.
Of course, we’ll show you more of them when we reveal our Rod Authority Top 10 of the Colorado Nationals later this week, but here’s a sneak peek!
From interiors to rearends, every vehicle that showed up at the Goodguys Colorado Nationals was capable of turning heads. When it came to picking our favorites, it was one tough task!
Want more information on these amazing rides? Don't worry! We'll give you the full scoop on each one later this week!
Builder’s Choice Row
In addition to the hundreds of hot rods that covered every inch of the event center’s property, we were instantly drawn to the front of the complex where rodders with rides they thought were worthy of being Builder’s Choice Award winners were parked for consideration by the famous Eric Peratt of Pinkee’s Rod Shop.
This ’68 LeMans may look like a classic musclecar, but the LS1 engine under the hood is anything but vintage, making it perfect for the AutoCross course.
While it was all fun at Thursday night’s kick off party, Peratt was up against some pretty big decisions on Saturday as he combed through the good, the great, and the down right amazing to make his honorary builder’s choice award picks.
Among them, we found glistening Chevelles, bubble top Impalas, classic Deuce Coupes, wondrous wagons, crazy T-buckets and even a few “out of the box” type rides.
One such standout was a classic Pontiac LeMans wearing Green paint and boasting a modern GTO powerhouse under the hood.
Not too far away, we found vintage trucks in every kind of candy color imaginable, Tri Fives from classically restored to extremely modified, and even a couple Kaisers and a creepy graveyard-themed roadster among the mix.
Cherry and charming, rides competing for the Builder's Choice Award as well as other awards throughout the complex grounds drew our attention left and right.
Primed And Ready To Roll
With finished hot rods of all styles taking up the front part of the complex’s property, those with rides to sell, vintage rods in the works, and even the random smattering of parts set up to the East, tempted even the highly-satisfied hot rod owner to consider a different vintage component or new project vehicle.
From complete Ford Flatheads to taillights, door handles and trim pieces, there was a bit of everything available to enthusiasts willing to pay the right price.
Among the vehicles for sale, we found some really worthy project contenders and some rust-buckets at best. In addition to an NCRS Duntov Award-winning Corvette, a vehicle that’s rarely seen let alone up for sale, we found a rust-free ‘51 Studebaker with plenty of nifty mods, a rat truck and even a high-performance boat for sale.
These mixed with toys, peddle cars, and even a few random things like airplane emergency exit doors, made for one heck of a market for deal makers and deal finders alike.
While the swap meet and car corral offered enthusiasts unique vintage pickings, the Vendor Midway offered the latest from some of the industry’s top companies. Right inside the show entrance, we found Meguiar’s, Edelbrock, and Jet Hot Coatings offering racks of products in front of similarly themed semi trailers. Inside one of the event center halls, more companies like Kindig-It Design, Speedway Motors and Classic Instruments were set up, with a constant stream of people eying the new products on display. On the other side of the complex, on the way out to the autocross course, even more vendors were set up, with Airaid taking a front-and-center approach to business.
From coatings to carbs, the Goodguys Vendor's Midway at the Colorado Nationals had something for every hot rod builder, driver and owner.
Carvin’ Cones With The Best
One of the spectacular offerings of many Goodguys shows, and something that draws crowds every year at the Colorado Nationals, is the AutoCross competition.
Set up in a back parking lot at The Ranch, this year’s course proved to be one of the toughest ones yet, ramping up the need for superior driving skills and a watchful eye among those brave enough to attempt the competition.
Although the wind didn’t help competitors early on Saturday, with the breeze toying with the timing sensors, competitors lined up to take on the cones of one of the toughest Goodguys AutoCross courses we’ve seen.
Among the competitors on the AutoCross course were familiar faces from last year as well as newbies testing out their skills on the course for the first time.
Whether they were aiming for serious numbers or just seeing what their vehicles could do, all the competitors that entered had a blast ripping around and finding friendly competition at every turn.
Not only were there pro-touring beasts set up for the competition on the course, we also saw our fair share of stock vehicles wind through the obstacles. But that’s not where the competition ended.
Adding to the crowd’s delight were some not so average AutoCross competitors, like a 7.0L diesel-powered 1956 Ford hauler that whipped through the course with fewer than all its tires on the ground most of the time.
And while this special competition vehicle had to make a three-point maneuver in the middle of the course due to tight quarters, it was still a crowd favorite with everyone cheering when it appeared at the starting line. Lucky for us, we got to ride along on the truck’s last run of the day!
Every Goodguys show across the country offers amazing rides, opportunities to buy new and old, and a place to compete, whether it’s bench racing or on the AutoCross course, but the Colorado Nationals brings something unique every year. Maybe it’s the elevation or the mountains towering high just west of town, but no matter what it is, the Colorado Nationals is one heck of a high for our show-going season!
Hemmings Muscle Car of the Year Finalist: Ray Christensen Fort Collins, CO 1970 Chevy Nova
Street Rod Headquarters Truck of the Year Early Finalist: Dale Buck Mesa, AZ 1937 Chevy
Vintage Air Custom Rod of the Year Finalist: Gil Losi Murrietta, CA 1961 Impala
Pinkee’s Builder’s Choice Awards
Dennis Wellbrock Lakewood, CO 1962 Impala
Matt Martinez Thornton, CO 1956 Nomad
John Walker Draper, UT 1965 Galaxie
Harold Chapman Andice , TX 1933 Ford
Marvin Meyer Fort Collins, CO 1957 Bel Air
Jay Gruba Rapid City, SD 1937 Packard
Dan Coleman Arvada, CO 1956 Ford
Deral Knight Rockport, TX 1959 Corvette
Don Heidt Dickenson, ND 1957 Buick
Gil Losi Murrietta, CA 1961 Impala
Classic Instruments Trophy Dash: Dennis Wellbrock Lakewood, CO 1962 Impala
Goodguys AutoCross Shootout Winner: Rob McGregor San Bernadino, CA 1969 Chevy 41.775
Goodguys AutoCross Street Machine Winner: Kevin Miller Baldwin City, KS 1969 Camaro
Goodguys AutoCross Truck Winner: Bob Boileau Monument, CO 1966 Datsun PU 43.887
Goodguys Gazette Pick: Greg Morris Hugoton, KS 1932 B-400 Ford
Goodguys Staff Pick: Brad Blackborn Pueblo, CO 1932 Ford
Long Distance Award: Joseph Sweeny Louisville, KY 1931 Ford
Ogden Chrome Award: Marvin Meyer Fort Collins, CO 1957 Bel Air
Best Ride on American Racing Wheels: Rick & Paula Wheeler Casper, WY 1935 Ford
Coker Tire Best Wide Whites: Harry Lindsay Littleton, CO 1948 Ford
Flowmaster American Thunder: Tom & Sandy Ulrich Watkins, CO 1968 Le Mans
Meguiar’s Magnificent Masterpiece: Rudy & Vicky Grossman Billings, MT 1957 Bel Air
PPG Paint Pick: Terry & Nikki McDonald PuebloWest, CO 1935 Ford
Jet Hot/ HPC Coatings Young Guys Pick: Kyle Magill Loveland, CO 1963 Chevy II
Best Ride on Billet: Jim Lippert Green, KS 1967 Nova
Speedway Motors Homebuilt Heaven: Chris & Nancy Swisher Loveland, CO 1964 Buick
Hottest Hot Rod: Bob Halley Newport Beach, CA 1933 Ford
Magnum Axle/Real Hot Rod: Jim Johnson Wheat Ridge, CO 1932 Ford
Speedway Motors Traditional Homebuilt Heaven: Kevin &Robin Tutor Gunnison, CO 1931 Ford
Host Club Pick: Don Gooding Loveland, CO 1937 Ford
To end the day, we got our very own parade as show-goers cruised out of The Ranch Event Complex and headed to their hotels for the night!
Check out more sights from the Goodguys Colorado Nationals in the GALLERY below: