Grand National Roadster Show 2020 – A Gander At The AMBR

Its that time of year again folks. Spring draws nigh, and for hot rod folk, nothing signals the coming change of seasons more than the Rod Show’s Grand National Roadster Show in Pomona, California, at the end of January.

Not only is GNRS the “Acadamy Awards” of hot rodding, but the whole affair is conducted on the lush, manicured grounds of the Pomona Fairplex, the former L.A. County fairgrounds. With streamlined, modern architecture, getting lost on the grounds is a treat in itself.  You can feel the buzz of a thousand past events pulsating in the air when navigating the venue.

The 71st Annual O’Reilly Auto Parts Grand National Roadster Show is packed many other cool attractions in addition to AMBR. The Suede Palace, a perennial favorite, featured rat rods, primer, rust, and rolling bones builds with a heavy dollop of cool.  New for this year was the “Drag Racing Then & Now in Building 9. With a mind-boggling assortment of rails, dragsters, and gassers, this was probably the most extensive gathering of speed ever assembled in one place. Add the outdoor Grandaddy Drive-In, which is a huge show-and-shine that attracts the best local cars from around Southern California, and you can see why GNRS is the most important rod show on the west coast.

America’s Most Beautiful Roadster is the big kahuna event at GNRS though, and Rod Authority editor Dave Cruikshank was on the ground over the weekend bringing you back pictures, up close and personal, of all the contenders for AMBR. We wanted to give a shout out to world-class fastener manufacturer ARP for sponsoring the award this year with it’s $12,500 purse. So, in no particular order, here are the beauties vying for the most prestigious title in the hot rod hobby.

John Ivy’s 1927 Ford Roadster

John brought this cool little roadster sprayed out in a shade of Porsche Stone Grey. Built by Shrader's Speed Shop, it was cute as a bug. Running a 276ci Ford mill, it sported track-nose shaping by Luc Delay and interior by Rogellio's Auto Upholstery.

Gary and Deborah DeVine’s 1932 Ford Roadster Pickup “Warpaint”

This little truck was built by Denny Lesky of Ionia Hot Rod Shop and Dave Shuten of Galpin. Its pale purple paint and gold Halibrand-esque wheels were a fresh color combo.

1932 Ford “K’s Roadster”

This little red roadster came all the way from Japan, with a posse of guys and gals in red jackets. Built by Andy’s Rod Works with a Rods Bods body, and Dearborn Duece fenders. It is dedicated to the memory of Ken Katashito.

Monte Belsham’s 1932 Kugel Muroc Roadster 

This is the fourth Kugel Muroc roadster and it looked badass under the lights in building 4. Running an LS1 with Hillborn stacks, its curvy body was updated, restored, and flamed by Squeeg’s Kustoms out of Chandler, Arizona. Dig the cherry red interior by Gabes and Dakota Digital gauges.

Walter and Thenia Sigsby’s “Leg Show” T

Whew. Talk about nostalgic, this former Rod and Custom cover car was lost for years but has been thoughtfully resurrected. Unbelievably, the car was parted out back in the day and took some grappling to get all the components back together, but boy, was it worth it. Expertly sprayed by hotshot painter Dan Gogh and striped by Mr. Rhythm. If we were judging this event, Rod Authority would pick this kustom bucket for AMBR.

V12 1934 Ford Roadster “Lady Laird Lincoln “

This Adams Rod Shop built 1934 roadster was powered by a jewel-like V12 flathead built by the ubiquitous H&H Flatheads. Simple, sweet, and pure, owner Brandie Laird's little roadster was stunning.

Tom Firth’s 1932 “Brownstone Roadster”

Stoker’s Hot Rod Factory built this ’32, and if there were ever an embodiment of the adage “God lives in the details,” here you go. Flathead powered with nary a flame or scoop in sight, just pure unadulterated sculpture. Interior features an Olds clock steering wheel, cool Cadillac heater, and Classic Instruments gauges. Believe it or not, the color is an off-the-shelf, late-model GM.

 

Gary Mower’s 1932 Ford “Mower Roadster”

This black and green '32 built by Showtime Kustoms features LS power dripping with cool jewelry and the perfect rake and stance. Ron Magnus handled the interior.

Mike Dwight’s 1932 Ford Roadster

If licorice were a hot rod, this would be it. Owner Mike Dwight had some of the best guys in the hobby chipping in. Roy Brizio did the body and fabrication, Sid Chavers sewed up the interior, and Gary's Rods & Restorations did the paint. All Ford with 302 V8 for motivation.

Dustin And Dawn Smith’s “Twin Fan Special”

This old skool rod boasts a 1927 Ford shell, six-cylinder Ford power, and chromed louvers and deck lid.

Who will win?  We’ll know Sunday night. Again, we like “Leg Show” as it’s such a breath of fresh air mixed with a heavy hit of nostalgia. Stay tuned to Rod Authority for all the updates of the winner of GNRS AMBR 2020.

Special Mention: Ross and Beth Meyers “Kooky Kar” 1922 T Bucket Pickup

Not an AMBR contender, but featured smack dab in the middle of the action so we included it here. Unearthed along with the Golden Sahara, the Kooky Rod is about as famous as it gets. Originally built by Norm Grabowski, it was returned to its original TV show splendor by Roy Brizio. Its debut is a bit bittersweet as we recently lost namesake Edd "Kooky" Burns, but the car and his memory live on.

 

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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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