1998 Goodguys West Coast Nationals Time Capsule
It’s hard to imagine the 1998 Goodguys West Coast Nationals was over two decades ago. What did hot rodding look like 20-plus years in the rearview mirror? Well, here ya go!
Long known as the “Crown Jewel” of Goodguys events, the West Coast Nationals, or “P-Town” as some call it was just eleven years old at the time and had already become mecca for hot rodders, vendors, and automotive media. Everyone was there! And really – it was and still is the premier event for hot rods and customs in the western U.S.
At the time, the West Coast Nationals was restricted to 1954 & earlier vehicles. Not one tri-five rear fin anywhere in sight!
The legends were there too. Goodguys founder Gary Meadors, Tom Medley, Andy Brizio, Bill Burnham, Tom Gale of Chrysler Corporation, Norm Grabowski made frequent appearances as did Lil’ John Buttera, Pete Chapouris and of course the king of billet – Boyd Coddington. It’s hard to wrap our heads around it, but most of those icons have passed away.
Traditional hot rods, rat rods and vintage vibes hadn’t yet become mainstream. We seemed to still be stuck in the pastels, monotones, scallops and billet wheels but those stylings were all the rage at that time.
Speaking of scallops, you will notice the hot-licked Plymouth Prowler going through the awards ceremony. Back then, Goodguys was closely intertwined with the Chrysler Corporation and the Prowler. Chrysler’s Tom Gale was a personal friend of Gary Meadors and chose the Goodguys Spring Nationals in 1991 to debut the all-new Prowler. Here at this event, Chrysler had given a prowler to Goodguys as a giveaway car. As you can imagine, it got custom paint treatment.
Awards are a huge part of the West Coast Nationals. Tom Medley himself would come up from LA to pick the Stroker McGurk award (best roadster). It was also an emotional ceremony in terms of the Bill Burnham Memorial award. Just a year and a half earlier Bill passed away and the entire Burnham family presented the winner with the second-ever Billy B Memorial.
Ya know what’s really frightening? One of the little kids pictured in this story is now the head of design for a major auto manufacturer. Others are no doubt titans of hi-tech. Oh, how time flies!