Ok, so here we are smack in the middle of 1,500 of the coolest cars from around the mid-south at the Goodguys 7th Nashvile Nationals and we have to choose 10 of these cars that we liked the most. Sure this is going to be an easy task. There are beautiful factory stock numbers matching vehicles, highly modified extreme horsepower producing street rods, totally hand-built and fabricated rolling works of art, and we can’t forget the old school traditional sleds.
There is no mathematical equation or check list to review or a special formula for us to use. We figured the best thing to do was find 10 cars that in one way or another stood out amongst the many we could choose from. Whether we grabbed one because of the sheer creativity of what was used to pull the car together or the divine excellence in the execution and style. There may be those that caught our attention due to the extreme raw power we heard while passing by.
In the end we did our best to find at least one car in each of the different styles and classes. You may not agree with all of our choices, but seriously when you have this many cars, think of how difficult it would be to pair one against the other. We hope you enjoy!
Richard Cramer’s ’52 Buick Roadmaster 76R
Here we have a great example of a classic old school hot rod. There were only 10,000 of this year Roadmaster 76R built in 1952 and as far as Richard knows, there has only been 10 restored across the United States. He has meticulously gone over every part to bring it (for the most part) back to the original shape, with some modern technology.
The modifications that have been done are subtle, yet bold with a rockabilly flair. He understood the old straight eight and original suspension wouldn’t be that reliable with today’s driving conditions so he decided he should start with the drivetrain and chassis mods first. He dropped a 310 horsepower Chevy 350ci crate motor in the hole and topped it off with an Edelbrock intake and carb. This bolts to a 700r4 automatic transmission with overdrive. Up front he added rack and pinion steering and there is ’92 Caprice police cruiser rear-end, holding 3:08 gears and disk brakes all the way around.
With the chrome Lake Pipes, wide whites, and subtle pin-striping this car gives off almost an old gangster look to it. Richard told us he wanted to put this car together to look the way they would have back in his day. But he also wanted to be able to drive it any where he wanted. Coming from the pan-handle of Florida, he said it was a nice and comfortable ride and can keep up with just about anything on the road.
Somehow we always are drawn to these open wheeled, slammed, chopped, and channeled road beasts. The sound of those custom open headers hanging out of a big mean Flathead motor catches everyone’s attention. This motor is not just any Flathead, it has been bored .060 over, boasts a Eddie Myer intake, Navarro heads, and dual Stomberg carburetors. An aluminum fly wheel attached to a T-5 5-speed transmission and bolted to a 10-bolt Chevy rearend with a 3:55 gear helps push forward. Now that’s what we call some raw wicked power!
The aggressive stance Jason gave this car was achieved by chopping the top 5 inches, channeling the body 2 inches and building a custom frame, which was Z’d 4 inches in the front and 12 in the rear. Slap on a set of 16″ artillery wheels, wrapped with black walls and what you end up with is a car that will turn heads everywhere it goes.
But it doesn’t stop there. In order to see where he is going when the sun goes down, he found a set of 1930 Model A headlights amd 1946 Ford tail lights in the rear. There are a few touches of chrome, such as the steering column, but not too over done like we have seen on some others. The paint is a custom mix gray/blue color, that really sets this rod off as different from the rest.
Dan Labonte’s 1967 Promax Venom
Now if you want to talk about extreme street machines, this Promax Venom might be the center of the conversation. We don’t know anyone who could walk past this car and not have your attention drawn to the incredibly modified complete custom work that has been perfectly executed. This was the 11th of 28 Venoms built by Rich Roberts, owner of Promax. Dan, who owns Gelpro Rod & Muscle then took this complete car and customized it to what you see here.
The massive power this car produces is reached via a 572 General Motors crate motor and is connected to a Tremec TKO 600 5-speed transmission. It has a Nodular Ford 9-inch with a custom 4-link rear set up. The highly polished Boyd Coddington wheels are a massive 20×10 in the rear and 18×8 up front. The stopping power comes from Baer brakes and polished rotors. Lay down and look under the car to see some of the finishing details and you will find a stainless steel custom exhaust and stainless steel gas tank.
If you were lucky enough to take this car for a cruise you’d be sitting in a completely customized cabin and would be able to hear nothing but the sound of the deep, low growl of the exhaust. That is until you turned on the stereo – Dan customized and installed a massive sound system for some background music just in case. While sitting in the seats you could probably get a good back massage from the four Punch 10-inch subs and four Punch 6-inch midrange speakers.
Put all that in one package with a very cool custom paint job and what comes out of the mixer is a car that not only looks good, but also sounds good and you probably wouldn’t want to mess with it on the road.
Ok, so someone’s going to say, ‘what’s a boat doing in your top 10 car picks’? There is no way we could pass this one up. If for no other reason than the crazy creativity and impeckable craftsmanship of the boat and car combination. According to Happy, it all started when good friend who owns the car, Donny, asked if there was any way they could paint the boat to match the El Camino. But being the incredible body man Happy is, he heard something completely different and he started thinking way outside the box.
The car is a 1959 El Camino with a 400 small block Chevy motor, 400 Turbo transmission, with Zoom clutch and Hurst shifter and 4:11 gears in the back. It has had a complete frame-off restoration and at that time he lowered the front and added air suspension to the rear. From what Donny says, this is one of those cars that he dares people to try to grab the $100 bill off the dash, when he’s driving 55 mph and mashes the gas.
The boat is for the most part an all original 1963 Montgomery Ward Sea King with the original 35hp motor. It also has a real chrome 1959 El Camino rear bumper and taillights that light up when the brakes are pushed in the car. Happy used ’59 parts and pvc piping to creat the same rear fins as the car. Chrome trim, matching paint and even an El Camino steering wheel and a one of a kind matching pair was created. We offered to take it down to the river to cool off, but I think they were afraid we wouldn’t come back. Great Job guys!
Monte & Christy Hampshire’s 1950 GMC Pickup
This truck caught our eye for one reason, the color of course. However, once we got closer to this very cool machine it was easy to see that Monte & Christy have worked very hard to bring this classic pickup back to life. It isn’t just a nice truck with a cool paint job, it has been gone over with a fine toothed comb and has had a lot of custom parts and mods that flow together nicely.
First, this is a true GMC and not an old Chevy with the emblems changed. Although, it is running a very stout Chevy 350 which has been bored .030 over and gets fed through a set of Edelbrock 500 carbs. The engine compartment is clean enough to eat off of. The truck has been lowered 3 inches and sits on a set of chromed out Cragar wheels wrapped with Kumho tires.
The body has been shaved and the headlights, gas cap, and antennas have been frenched along with a custom fit parking light from a ’67 Olds Cutlass. The front clip and rearend of the truck have been taken from a 1977 Trans Am. When you walk around the back and glance down at the bed you’ll find beautifully stained and polished wooden planks with chrome strips that perfectly accent the truck.
Monte was sure not to forget about the inside of the truck and used viper skin and black leather upholstery and retro fitted the steering column after robbing it from a Cadillac. With way more details to the truck than we can list here, we feel this it was easily one of the more outstanding hot rod trucks on display.
Rick Browning’s 1951 Mercury Lead Sled
If there is one car that takes us back to a time when life was much different and more simple it has to be a cool led sled. Seeing this car cruising low and slow through the streets will make even those who aren’t car fanatics stop and stare. Rick has done an excellent job not only transforming this car, but also doing his best to keep it period correct, with a few modern conveniences.
It’s hard to know where to start listing all the little tricks that have been added to this car. It’s obvious the flames firing across the hood and fenders, along with the low stance make this car seem as if it were in motion, even when it’s standing still. The old Merc has been Chopped, shaved, decked, frenched, and louvered. That in itself is a whole lot of work, but he didn’t stop there. He also added a Desoto grill, air-ride suspension, and Radar Wheels with very wide whites.
Rick spared no expense with the custom black and white leather interior. Sitting in the seats you would be looking at a 1959 Chevy dash which houses a Vintage Air system, a steering wheel out of a ’56 Mercury, and Classic Instrument gauges. You can’t have an old school sled without being able to hear some good ol’ rockabilly music, so Rick installed a Kenwood Excelon sound system, however the whole system, including the speakers, are hidden from view to keep with the total look of the car. If you ever see this car rolling down the road, you will probably be taken back a few decades to more simple times, and that’s the reason Rick built his lead sled!
Larry East’s 1930 Ford Coupe
When we were walking past this slammed coupe, owner Larry was starting this nasty beast up. And suddenly we could hear nothing but hard hitting open headers and we had no other option but to stand in awe of this one-of-a-kind build. This is one of those cars that you might see sitting at a light next to that young guy driving his eco-friendly hybrid and he looks over like you’re the reason for global warming, and you just stick your foot in the pedal and then watch that face of his change. Yes that may be harsh, but we are hot rodders and those loud Zoomie pipes are as good as it gets.
This car is powered by a Chevrolet 400 small block that gets it’s fuel through three deuces. It is obvious when you hear it running that it holds a massive radical cam and 12:1 pistons. The front is a straight drop axle and the rear has a custom 4-link suspension with coil over shocks. It has been chopped and channeled to give it an aggressive stance that will send chills down anyones spine. Why did we add this car to out list, simply because if it’s loud and mean, and it deserves every bit of attention it receives!
There were plenty of convertibles and original iron here at the show, however this all original LeMans convertible got our attention not necessarily because it was perfectly clean, but as soon as we saw that it was a daily driver, that sealed the deal. The interior of this car was in great shape with original buckets and center console. These cars were (and still are) fun to drive on a nice warm Summer afternoon. Just throw the top back and let the wind blow while cranking up the stereo and listen to some good old Molly Hatchet or Black Sabbath.
Steven told us this car has been in the family for several years and has had the numbers matching 350ci rebuilt at 102,000 miles and currently the car has 117,000 miles. The transmission has also been rebuilt and is also original from the factory. It’s driven almost every day that the weather will allow. Even though this car may have a few dead bugs on the front bumper, to us that only adds to the intrigue and cool factor of such an original driver. Knowing it is able to get out and breath, instead of being held up in a garage somewhere without being able to see the sun light is why this one became one of our top picks.
John Sutton’s ’56 Chevy Belair Hardtop
How could we not pick this amazingly customized peice of classic American iron. As soon as you step up to this very blue car you mouth almost starts to water while staring hypnotically at all the chrome and detail work. Owner John Sutton, has owned the car since 2000 and told us, “I have made a lot of changes and improvements, but I think I’m finally at the end of it. I can’t think of much more I can do.”
It started by having a custom tubular frame built, then adding a 4 link suspension in the rear. He then capped off the front and rear with chrome 18-inch Luxor Wheels up front and 20s in the rear. John installed a Chevy 350 with an English ram induction carburation system and bolted it to a Tremec 5-speed transmission to thrust it down the road.
He didn’t stop at the outside, not on a car like this. The dashboard has been smoothed out with Dakota Digital Guages and an LCD screen. John has had a custom center console made to lay between the front buckets. The clean look of the white tuck and roll interior was made by a friend at Collins’ Interiors. Throw in a custom billet steering wheel and painted accents to match the exterior color and the car is as complete as they come. For this we say, ‘great job, John’. It still amazes us to see what can be done to a car that at one time was nothing more than just a way to drive to work.
Charles Beasley’s Radical 1930 Model A 2 Door Tudor
Yes we have one more spot and chose another open wheeled car. But you should have know we would have to throw a radically altered rat rod into the mix. Every show we attend these rats are infesting the grounds, but don’t think we are saying that because we don’t like them. In fact it’s just the opposite. How can someone not appreciate the time, effort, and almost mad scientist type of creativity it takes to put something like this together.
As you can see in the pictures, this car has plenty of crazy junk added to it to make it a really cool ride. One of the biggest features of this car is the right hand drive. Charles explained to us, “I’m dyslexic and had my instructions turned upside down. When I got through putting it together it ended up on the wrong side”. In his words, not ours he says, “I got a picture of my wife on the back. The eyes glow red at night, that’s how her eyes are every time I talk about this thing.” Yes we love hanging out with those old hot rodders who have nothing but a good time and love to joke around.
By looking at this rod it’s easy to see that it has had a pretty serious chop and channel job and the big 402 motor is crazy radical. Charles tells us, “It will pull the front tires up, I just can’t afford to replace the front end so I don’t do it that often.” He made sure to put a “rumple” seat in the car that he made from an old tractor seat. He said that’s where his wife sits and for her safety he added an old log chain to keep her in so she won’t fall out. According to Charles he doesn’t have a whole lot of money wrapped up in this car. He just has a blast driving and enjoys people coming up to him to ask him about it. ” I like this one cause I’m too old and lazy to have one I gotta clean and shine all the time.” In many ways it makes perfect sense to us.