The NSRA Southeast Street Rod Nationals Plus has been a staple of the Tampa Fairgrounds for many years. The days of Pro Street muscle, chrome on top of chrome, and flagrant displays of horsepower mixed with period customs and immaculate restorations are distant memories. While such cars are still around they are few and far between as modern functionality, comfort, and driveability have taken center stage to the “Pro Fairgrounds” scenes of yesteryear. We’re not sure if the “resto-mod” term had been coined back in 1991, but that type of build is quite popular in today’s Street Rod scene.
The weather had unseasonably warm temps in the low 90s with plenty of umbrellas and pop up canopies to shelter participants and spectators from the Florida sunshine. The NSRA 2014 season closer gathered 1,242 participating registered cars at the 27th annual Southeast Street Rod Nationals this year. There were a good mix of quality cars and trucks from different genres on display. NSRA Special Events Director Mike Chrispyn was able to get us a list of the award winners and special picks from this year’s show. As it turns out several of our picks made the same list which you’ll find further down in this feature.
Hot cars and hot weather is a recipe for success in the Sunshine State so lets take a trip around the fairgrounds as we feature our favorite picks from the Southeast Street Rod Nationals.
One of the first cars that caught our eye once entering the gate was this amazingly black 1970 Buick GS Convertible. Car owner Joe Miele had just parked and started wiping down the classic muscle car when we stopped by to chat. The build was designed and coordinated by Classic Vintage Speed out of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida and built at Ravenswood Paint and Body in Dania Beach, Florida. This head turning resto-mod has a sinister jet black paint job from Ravenswood Paint and Body. It is done so well that it makes you forget that there’s supposed to be chrome trim on the car.
The subtle one-off hood adds that special something to the otherwise factory paneled car. TA Performance designed a 494 ci pump gas dream for Joe pushing out 717 hp on 91 octane fuel using an Imagine Injection flex fuel compatible fuel management system. A JW Performance 700R4 trans and lockup converter transfer the power reliably to a two-inch narrowed Ford 9-inch rear housing from Currie Enterprises. The rearend sports 3.50:1 gears for cruising the highways.
Global West tubular suspension, Boyd Coddington’s “Nemesis” series wheels, and some serious stopping power from Wilwood brakes equip the GS for that brisk hustle when the urge arises.
NSRA rules require participating vehicles to be 30 years or older bringing Pontiac’s 1984 model Fiero up for eligibility this year. Thanks to Tracy Powell from the Suncoast Fieros club we have a fine example of a custom Pro Street monster on hand. A road race inspired front blends well with the drag race/pro street style so popular in the mid-80s out back. Mid engine, blown injected transverse axle and wheelie bars? Yes please. Tracy also came home with the Thump’r Award from the Comp Cams Performance Group this weekend, a nice score for arguably the most radical car in the show.
The ’51 Ford Dumper is owned by Mike and Debbie Boyd of Valrico, Florida and is another Pro Street influenced example. Flat black paint, big meats out back, and a dual quad tunnel ram big-block Chevy on nitrous sticking through the hood–you can bet whatever they are hauling gets there in a hurry. The Rod Authority crew expect a resurgence and updating of such cars and trucks as more mid-80s and 90s cars become eligible for NSRA event participation.
We ran across several wood paneled or themed cars including a rare 1947 Chevy Country Club coupe (center) owned by Richard Geller, notable for its dealer installed wood panel side trim. The Woody wagons of the era came with the wood paneling installed in Detroit while the coupes were shipped with the wood in the trunk. Only a few dealers bothered with the installation, making this a rare gem indeed.
Ron Koontz’ WOODN T ’27 Ford
Our favorite of this bunch was the all-wood bodied ’27 T built by Ron Koontz out of Pine Island, Florida. Ron and his wife Mary Margaret are regulars here at the Southeast Street Rod Nationals and get a lot of attention for their one of a kind ’27 T-bucket.
Alan Sargeant picked this car for the event’s Special Award. Sargeant resides in Scotland and was in town for the show. The car features an all-wood body using strip plank canoe building technology from the late 70s which Ron was involved in for twenty years.
Ron decided to blend the two hobbies by using the running gear and tilt wheel from a 1986 Caprice wagon, and building the frame and body from scratch. In total it took over three years and about 3,000 hours of work. The rear suspension is a transverse leaf spring design with a traditional four-link and one-off friction shocks. The red running gear and steelies with subtle chrome trim rings add just enough color accent for Ron’s WOODN T.
Mid 50s cars make for popular builds and there were several fine examples on hand this year. One resto-mod standout belongs to Tony and Jayne Alcorn from Orlando. The crocus yellow/laurel green color combo has that, “Take me to the beach!” attitude. The frame off resto-mod features all-original sheet metal coated in the fresh original colors.
Bill O’Brien’s 1956 DeSoto Fireflight Driver
Bill O’Brien and his clean driver, a ’56 DeSoto Fireflight, hail out of Ocala, Florida. The car was purchased out of western Montana in Deer Lodge with just 53,000 miles on her when Bill flew out to have a look before driving it back home. The Fireflight features the original interior and 330 ci DeSoto Hemi, factory power steering, brakes, windows, seats, antennae, and tinted glass. Yeah, she was optioned out for her time.
Requiring only minimal body work, once back in Florida the car was repaired and repainted the factory color. In the two years Bill has had the car some modern additions were added including four-wheel disc brakes, overdrive transmission, a posi-traction rearend, electronic ignition, and air conditioning, all making it a much more road-trip worthy car. In fact, Bill and his wife returned from Philadelphia just three weeks ago and use it for road trips often. This DeSoto is basically a survivor car with minimal upgrades for comfort and safety on today’s highways, a setting that she sees often.
Here at Rod Authority we love old trucks and here are four that stood out at this years show. These bad boys span the genre from fine restoration to pulled-off-the-back-lot shop truck.
Mint Restorations ’61 Impala
John Dubois from Mint Restorations in New Port Richey, Florida had three early-60s Chevys here for the show with his newest creation, just finished the day before the event for owner Joe Abrantes, catching our eye first. The Budnik Ice rims and Continental Tire touting Impala features an LSA supercharged engine from a CTS-V Cadillac and sits next to John’s own 1960 El Camino. The “survivor” Impala has all original stainless trim and is beautifully slathered in Matrix White by Lee from Hot Wheels paint and Body in Holiday, Florida.
We say survivor loosely as that was the condition of the car when purchased, certainly not anymore. ISCA representative Chas Sydney was in attendance and chose Joe’s Impala for one of two ISCA picks at the fairgrounds.
All three cars feature modern horsepower, fuel efficiency, and all the amenities including; power windows and locks, power steering and brakes, stereo, air ride suspension, and air conditioning.
John built street rods for many years and now works on older muscle cars where he cut his teeth. John says, “These cars are a lot more fun and pleasurable to drive for me, and people seem to appreciate them as they’re more familiar with the old muscle growing up.” Look for full features on two of these classic Chevy muscle cars in early 2015.
There were plenty of roadsters to behold and cars from every genre gracing the lot. We stopped for a chat with Jack Klingel and the Butcherbilt crew out of Weeki Wachee, Florida who had three clean ’32 Ford roadsters on display. Built in-house, the three have a hidden convertible top conceived and designed by Jack’s crew and tucked into a fiberglass body–an advantage on longer trips where inclement weather might otherwise hamper the fun. Jack’s two-tone black over green example features a ’40 Ford Deluxe dashboard, Coke reproduction American Racing Wheels and ’32 Studebaker headlights that give the car a unique look out front.
The trio feature the same crate GM Performance small-block and drivetrain for reliability while Jack’s deuce sports Cadillac valve covers and an air cleaner for a different touch. All three made the trip to the LA Roadster Show just after completion in the Spring of 2004 and now clock over 30,000 miles on the odometer.
Cecil And Fern Taylor’s ’37 Ford Woody Wagon
This ’37 Ford Woody wagon is owned by Cecil and Fern Taylor from Tampa and built by Hercules Motor Car Company which Cecil owns and established in 1974. The shop has specialized in ’32, ’34, and ’37 Ford woodys for about 25 years now. This one in particular is the 125th car out of the shop.
The entire body is fabricated in house at Hercules with Cecil preferring the ’37 model which is 10-inches longer and four inches wider making for a more comfortable road experience. Power comes from a 290 hp 350 ci Chevy crate engine mated to a 700R4 overdrive transmission–a popular combo to drop in these older street rods.
The body sits on a TCI Engineering chassis with independent front suspension and a Ford 9-inch rear housing. The attention to detail and simplicity doesn’t come through in photographs of this custom wagon. The paint is deep and the steel-spoke wheels give nostalgic hints to what is otherwise a contemporary build, designed with comfort and reliability, for an enjoyable show cruiser.
Long Distance Award Winner Lynn Hubbard
Lynn Hubbard gets the long distance award from us–this is her fifth trip from California to this event. Shown here with friend, Vivian Ramsey, who has accompanied her for the last two years. Her trusty 1941 Deluxe Ford coupe is a proven road worthy cruiser with about 35 body modifications–the rear window being the only factory piece left on the body. The build was completed in 1996 by Lynn and her late husband where they earned Executive Director’s pick at the Columbus, Ohio Street Rod Nationals in its show debut. Since then the old Ford has logged hundreds of thousands of miles using a 330 horsepower 350 ci Chevy and 700R4 transmission combo nestled onto a Chevy S10 pickup frame.
With the 2014 NSRA season in the books it’s time to reflect on the year and make plans for 2015. What will the hot new trend be next year? Who will bring the show-stopper to the LA Roadster Show? Rod Authority will bring you coverage of events across the country once again. Don’t forget to pick your faves from the Southeast Street Rod Nationals and let us know in the comments below.