The Sacramento Autorama Returns This Weekend, February 15-17, 2019

Get ready folks, the 69th Sacramento Autorama is coming this weekend!

The Autorama is truly our favorite west coast car event and is arguably, the granddaddy of all kustom kar shows. Another RodShows biggie, the Grand National Roadster Show was held last month in Pomona, California and while cars of all stripes were present, the focus was on pre-war cars and early-Fords.

The Autorama highlights post-war cars and if you like block-long kustoms with canted headlights and sky high fins, this is the wailing wall of the genre. Almost every other genre of show car is presented as well, but the Kustom is king here.

Darrin Sheridan brought this neat 1935 Ford in 2018.

Editor Dave Cruikshank will be on the ground Friday, and stream live feeds of the show to Rod Authority Facebook as well as pics and updates to our website throughout the weekend.

If you haven’t been to Cal Expo, that itself is a reason to go to the Autorama. Think of your local fairground cross-pollinated with the spaceship port in “2001, A Space Odyssey,” and you’ll get the picture. In fact, one could film a sci-fi film onsite at Cal Expo with little alterations.

Cal Expo in Sacramento. The tall towers are part of the “Calisphere,” and would make a good movie set for a lunar rocket base.

Covering a vast 350 acres, Cal Expo has a horse racing track, water park and opened in 1968 by then California Governor, Ronald Reagan.  The grounds feature sheer concrete towers, multiple fountains and ponds, a mini-monorail, and cluster-globe lightening throughout the grounds. The best part is it is all unmolested and untouched. Like many a failed kustom, great architecture has been ruined forever with unsympathetic “updating.”  Visiting Cal Expo is the closest we can get to teleporting back to the  best of the 1960’s.

Kindig's 1957 Corvette won big at the 2018 Autorama.

What does all that have to do with kustom kars, you ask?  Great design, whether stationary or rolling, is something to behold and when you drive several hundred automotive masterpieces into an equally impressive architectural space, the cool factor rises exponentially.

Known as the “Kustom Capitol of the World,” the Sacramento Autorama will bring together the best customs, hot rods, pickups, motorcycles and muscle cars from across the country to compete for the coveted “Custom d’Elegance” and “King of Kustoms” titles as well as 400 other awards on February 15-17, 2019.

Full Circle Restoration showed this work-in-progress at last year’show. Will this LT4 powered restomod bulletnose Studebaker debut in final form? We’ll find out!

Sacramento, Calif. (February, 2019) – The Sacramento Autorama, one of the longest running indoor car shows in the world, is returning to the Cal Expo Fairgrounds in Sacramento, California on February 15-17, 2019.  The three-day show will feature over 500 vehicles on display inside of the Cal Expo buildings competing to win the prestigious “Custom d’Elegance” award, or one of the show’s many other awards, as well as an additional 300 cars participating in the 11th Annual Sacramento Autorama Drive-In on Saturday and Sunday.

The Sacramento Autorama was started by Sacramento businessman Harold “Baggy” Bagdasarian in 1950 when he brought together the members of a local car club to settle friendly arguments over the outstanding merits of their customized cars. Now in its 69th year, the show has grown to be the big kahuna kustom show in the Untied States,  showcasing the country’s best and most radical custom cars and hot rods, all competing for one of 400 awards recognizing the best customs, restored classics, motorcycles, trucks, hot rods, muscle cars and street machines.

Roger Rabbit, your car awaits. Ron Berry’s VW bus took the Barris Award last year? What will he bring this weekend?

The most coveted award of the show is the “Custom d’Elegance,” which is given to the best chopped, channeled and sectioned vehicle from 1935-1948 that embodies the true spirit of a classic custom. This year, 10 of the best custom owners and builders in America will be competing for the title, the $2,000 purse and to have their name added to the historic perpetual plaque alongside iconic customizers like Gene Winfield, Joe Bailon, George Barris and John D’Agostino.

The other highly sought-after award at the show is the “King of Kustoms,” which recognizes the best 1935-1964 custom build with particular focus on bodylines, design, flow and quality of workmanship.

Builder Lucky 7 brought the magnificent “Thor” last year. We will keep our eyes peeled for the latest from Lucky 7!

In addition to “Custom d’Elegance” and “King of Kustoms,” there are an additional 47 “outstanding” and sweepstakes awards up for grabs as well as seven special judges’ picks known as the “Big B Awards.” Of these special accolades, the H.A. Bagdasarian’s “World’s Most Beautiful Custom” award is by far the most prestigious. This award is open to any custom from 1936 to present that features a major silhouette change and is chosen by show founder H.A. Bagdasarian’s family. The winner gets their name enshrined on the 8-foot tall perpetual trophy and takes home $500 in prize money.

“We couldn’t be prouder to present the 69th Annual Sacramento Autorama,” said John Buck, owner of Rod Shows and producer of the Sacramento Autorama. “This is an incredibly historic event and one of the longest-running indoor car shows in the world, and we can’t wait to continue Harold Bagdasarian’s legacy in 2019.”

In addition, the 69th Annual Sacramento Autorama will present multiple new feature classes. Featured displays for the show include the Lowrider Showcase, the Tri-Five Chevy display, Vintage Motorcycles and the return of the traditional-style hot rod display known as the Suede Pavilion.

Mike and Rita Garner’s Merc one of our faves last year.

Beyond all the amazing custom rides, live music and good food, show attendees will also have the chance to watch the best pinstripers in the nation ply their craft as they create custom pinstriped works of art live during the show at the Autorama Panel Jam. All of this artwork will then be put up for auction, the proceeds from which will be donated to help the children of the U.C. Davis Children’s Hospital.

The 69th Annual Sacramento Autorama will also feature appearances by Joe and Amanda Martin, owners of Martin Bros. Customs in Johnson City, Texas and stars of the hit Motor Trend Network series “Iron Resurrection.” Both Joe and Amanda will be meeting their fans throughout the weekend.

Clifford Mattis’ 1941 Buick earns World’s Most Beautiful Custom & Custom D’Elegance Honors at the 2018 Autorama.

The Sacramento Autorama opens to the public at noon on Friday, February 15 and runs until 6pm on Sunday, February 17. Admission for adults is $20 each day, children ages 6-12 are $10 each day and ages 5 and under are free. Tickets are also available at all participating O’Reilly Auto Parts stores in Northern California for $18. Parking is $10 and the entrance to the lot is located at the Main Gate and East Gate off Exposition Blvd. For more information about the Sacramento Autorama, please visit our website.

Remember, Rod Authority will be there with full coverage on the RodAuthority.com and RodAuthorityFacebook.

See you at the 69th Autorama in Sacramento this weekend!

About the author

Dave Cruikshank

Dave Cruikshank is a lifelong car enthusiast and an Editor at Power Automedia. A zealous car geek since birth, he digs lead sleds, curvy fiberglass, kustoms and street rods. He currently owns a '95 Corvette, '76 Cadillac Seville, '99 LS1 Trans Am and big old Ford Van.
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