The BIG One: Inside Look At The 10th Annual Ink-N-Iron Festival

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Words and Photos: Juan Trevino

Southern California due to its ideal weather plays host to many cool events like custom car shows, concerts, and culture festivals. There are several events that combine all three but none have nailed the unique characteristic that the Ink-N-Iron festival has grown to cover in the past ten years.

The 10th annual Ink-N-Iron Festival was held at the beautiful Queen Mary grounds in Downtown Long Beach, California on June 7th through June 9th, 2013. The weather could not have been better and the seaside location made for a great weekend of cars, music and all the unique show experiences.

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This event has become a definite must attend over the last ten years. The car show portion is referred to as the Long Beach Motorama and it is held inside the Queen Mary Dome that is adjacent to the Queen Mary ship along with many more overflow cars and trucks gathered on the outside grounds. There were hundreds of beautiful traditionally styled kustoms, hot rods, lowriders and vintage styled dragsters in attendance this year. 

This year’s Motorama showcased a large number of the nation’s finest kustoms that were competing for the prestigious titles of “America’s Kustom D’Elegance” and “America’s Kustom Extraordinaire” for this year’s awards.

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Some of the West Coast's finest were on hand and cleaned up nicely for the crowds. Including Eric Conner's freshly finished '50 Chev from So Cal Suspension.

Inside The Dome

Stepping inside the dome, besides the awesome show cars, you were also treated to some killer displays that featured racing and customizing history as well as history on the early years of the Long Beach Motorama when it was hosted by The Renegades Car Club. There was a display illustrating the history of Lions Drag Strip that featured some period correct Gassers and Altered Fuel Dragsters side by side next to the functional starting tree and drag strip diorama.

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Rez, a member of Corsairs, brought out his sinister looking ’29 Ford roadster that features a heavily raked stance and a 331 engine with a Weiand Drag Star intake manifold with a six-pack carb setup.

There was an area that housed many historical artifacts from the Renegades Car Club like pictures of their cars and functions as well as some of their car club gear like their old jackets and shirts. There was also a tribute wall that had a display of pictures of the kustomizing pioneers as well as a casting of their hands holding the tool of their trade. Spread throughout, there were also a few vendors inside the dome if you wanted to purchase some Kustom Kulture items like pinstriped panels or artwork by Tom McWeeney of Kustom’s Inc. or sand casted aluminum art by Grider Co. out of Santa Maria, California.

But of course the main highlight of the Motorama inside the dome is the cars and trucks and this year the contenders did not disappoint. John D’agostino brought out a beautiful 1951 “baby” Lincoln named “Ruby,” it is a fantastic period correct Kustom. It had all the kustom touches – chopped, frenched in headlights, ’54 Merc taillights, a full kustom interior and a gorgeous “Ruby” red paint job.

Feature Car Highlights

Rudi “Rudog” of the Barons car club from Pasadena brought out a very tastefully done 1931 Ford Coupe that was the recipient of the “Respect Tradition” award selected by Troy Ladd of Hollywood Hot Rods. Galpin Auto Sports and Dave Shuten brought out “Iron Orchid” a 1934 Ford 5-window coupe that featured a custom 60’s show-rod styled paint job by Darryl Hollenbeck of Vintage Color Studio.

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Joe and Angela Wallem’s chopped 59 Impala featured a great paint job by fellow Loco Banditos car club member Kyle “K-Daddy” Gann.

Eric Conner and Bo Swan of the Fellas Car Club both brought out a beautiful pair of Kustom Chevy’s that had a crowd around them all weekend. The winner of the top trophy, the Kustom D’Elegance award was Don Kirk’s 1940 Ford that was built and shown by Charly’s Garage in Mesa Arizona.

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Mitch Gramata had his heavily customized, yet daily driven 1959 Ford F-100 laidout next to his fellow car club members from Fellas So Cal.

We can’t forget about the outdoor portion of the Ink-N-Iron/Long Beach Motorama show! It too has its share of some awesome hot rods and kustoms that come from near and far. With the sun shining all weekend it made it easy to see the sparkling candied and flaked paint jobs.

The Outside Action

On one end of the grounds there was a dragster and boat display and every few hours there was a cackle fest which amused the crowds. As you walked to another section there was the Tiki Drive-in area that featured one of the many stages for music acts.

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If there's anything that really stood out to us this year, it had to be the spectacular paint from all genres and styles. Flake, candy, panels, fades - you name it and there was a bitchin' car on display in similar fashion.

Cars were lined up in front of the stage which featured a screen that played movies at night. In this area Conrad Garcia had his cool Ford Coupe displayed and also Mike Filion of Pro Design Hot Rods had his ’49 Merc “Miss Lead” featuring a black satin base with candy gold flake flames laid flat on the ground.

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Australian Mat Egan brought out his killer ’54 Ford. The slammed stance and multi shaded candy orange panels shinning in the sun kept a crowd around it all weekend long.

Aladdin had his cool 1929 Chevy Roadster parked here as well along with his club The Cavaliers. Walk a little further down the grounds and you come to the village area and there you would find more kustoms and hot rods sprawled as far as the eye could see. Here we came across displays by Sultans of Long Beach, Mercifuls of Long beach and the Taildraggers So Cal.

Of course there is so much more to the Ink-N-Iron festival then just the cars and trucks (although, of course that’s our favorite part, but we may be a wee bit bias). The nightly concerts rock on the main stage in front of the ship on Friday, Saturday and Sunday and of course the world famous tattoo hall that features tattoo artists from around the world working all weekend long. There are also fashion bazaars, art shows, tattoo contests, burlesque shows and even aerial trapeze shows!

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Jeff “JP” Proud drove his 1932 Ford Pickup from Fullerton. His little truck had all the right modifications and custom touches. A great low stance, candy painted steelie wheels with white walls, chopped roof and a triple carbureted small-block with straight exhaust.

At one point on Saturday afternoon there were two World War Two era fighter planes circling around the Long Beach skyline just for the show, which is just “plane” awesome! This is why people from all over the world make the trip to Long Beach to participate in 3-days of automotive custom bliss. If you have attended the festival in the past then we’re sure you’ll return and if you haven’t, then we recommend that you make your plans now to attend next year’s Ink-N-Iron Festival. We’ll see you there!

For more exclusive photos check out our GALLERY below:

About the author

Mike Alexander

With over a decade of automotive print and editorial experience, Mike Alexander enjoys shooting and writing about cars, and has several projects cars in his stable.
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