Grand National Roadster Show 2018, AMBR, Fuel Curve

First Look! 69th Annual Grand National Roadster Show!

We have been walking the Grand National Roadster Show (GNRS) floor the past two days during the judging for America’s Most Beautiful Roadster and show set up. As usual, this is the season’s first glimpse of all the fresh hot rods and custom cars as they get set up for a big weekend here in Pomona before the spring and summer event season heats up.

Wednesday’s judging for America’s Most Beautiful Roadster was interesting to say the least! We counted five black roadsters. All very nice but it was refreshing to see some cars with color on them. The field of 15 cars is the largest we have seen here, 14 of which are Ford roadsters. Rick Dore’s “Shangri La” is the only non-Ford in the bunch. Like all of the recent Dore creations, it features a completely coach built aluminum body by Marcel.

Here is a look at all 15 cars going for the AMBR Trophy. Below our AMBR contender gallery are Grand National Roadster Show set up day images showing the depth and variety of this year’s show.

1936 Ford Roadster

Grand National Roadster Show 2018, AMBR, Fuel Curve

Dana Elrod’s roadster is just plain wicked looking. Built by metal master Dale Boesch in Nebraska, its proportions have been radically changed. Its wedge sectioned, pie cut and has had three inches removed from the rear quarters and deck lid to “take the hump out. Powered by a Hilborn-injected 392 Chrysler hemi and riding on a custom chassis, it also features a leather interior by Tracy Weaver.

Grand National Roadster Show 2018, AMBR, Fuel Curve

Ford Model T Roadster

Grand National Roadster Show 2018, AMBR, Fuel Curve

Owner built, Dan Hostetter’s San Diego based hot rod is a throwback to the 60s. It was built from thin air – none of it is OEM. Nestled in the custom chassis is a little 241 c.i. Dodge Red Ram Hemi. The steam punk gauge cluster is way cool as is the diamond tuft upholstery. Just a neat little homemade hot rod.

Grand National Roadster Show 2018, AMBR, Fuel Curve


1934 Ford Roadster

Grand National Roadster Show 2018, AMBR, Fuel Curve

Now this is a roadster with a twist! Engineer Pete Aardema took this little ’34 cabriolet off the Goodguys AutoCross track where it was a perennial winner and made a show car out of it. The blue scheme with fawn leather is pretty. The motor is radical. It’s a big block Chevy with modified Porsche Heads. Say what? Pete is an engineer. You would have to be to make that engine combo work!

Grand National Roadster Show 2018, AMBR, Fuel Curve

Shangri La

Grand National Roadster Show 2018, AMBR, Fuel Curve

This is the latest stunner from the Rick Dore stable. It’s a completely handmade aluminum body by Marcels with a modified Morrison chassis and a Ram Jet Chevy V8 with a custom ‘57 Corvette fuelie style air plenum. Lots of polished brass and the Caddy wires look spot on!

Grand National Roadster Show 2018, AMBR, Fuel Curve

1930 Ford Model A Roadster

Grand National Roadster Show 2018, AMBR, Fuel Curve

Bill Nash’s Santa Monica based Model A roadster is a black beauty. Built by Precision Street Rods & Machines, the frame rails were “flattened” to keep the body lines straight.  It runs a mean 383c.i. Chevy with two fours, linked to a turbo hydro 350 with a Speedway Engineering quick change.

Grand National Roadster Show 2018, AMBR, Fuel Curve

1936 Ford Roadster

Grand National Roadster Show 2018, AMBR, Fuel Curve

Chris Parmelee’s ’36 Ford roadster is really pretty. Cloaked in burgundy, the glass body rides atop a custom tube frame. LS1 power, and the 4L60 E transmission have it set up for the road while a brown leather Ron Mangus interior offers creature comforts. The best part? Chris built the entire car in his Norco, California garage!

Grand National Roadster Show 2018, AMBR, Fuel Curve

1931 Ford Model A Roadster

Grand National Roadster Show 2018, AMBR, Fuel Curve

Out of Scott Bonowski’s Hot Rods & Hobbies stable, David Martin’s ‘31 Model A roadster combines hot rod and vintage race car flair. The Cleveland Blue is arresting while the mustard and red beltline stripe add speedy lines. We especially dig the old school hard aluminum tonneau cover. Under the louvered hood (270 louvers on this car!) is a thumping all-aluminum fuel injected Brodix small block by Ed Pink Racing Engines howling through twisty custom headers. The one off Indy racing style shot peen wheels are by Evod. The rust colored leather was stitched by Mark Lopez, Elegance Auto Interiors.

Grand National Roadster Show 2018, AMBR, Fuel Curve

1932 Ford Roadster

Grand National Roadster Show 2018, AMBR, Fuel Curve

This bitchin’ black ‘32 Ford hiboy Roadster is owner-built. Alan Johnson, of Yuma, AZ is somewhat of a Cadillac Northstar guru and this hot hiboy features a fully dressed & polished Caddy V8. Lots of CNC parts here. The chassis features ASC frame rails then Alan built the rest of chassis. Hi revving shift points are courtesy of a Tremec 5 speed. The Budnik “Gasser” wheels are spot-on as is the black leather interior by Mark Lopez.

Grand National Roadster Show 2018, AMBR, Fuel Curve

1932 Ford Roadster

Grand National Roadster Show 2018, AMBR, Fuel Curve

Started by Don Thelan over 25 years ago, Bruce Meyer’s “Nickel Roadster” features impeccable craftsmanship and yes, plenty of nickel plated parts and pieces. All the So-Cal hot rod heroes had a hand in this car including the Pete Eastwood chassis. Steve Davis and Ron Covell shaped the metal including the removable hard top. Power is from a snarling Gurney/Westlake GT 40 V8 with 48mm IDA Weber carbs. It’s cloaked in black lacquer and the green leather interior is spot on. The drilled sprint car steering wheel (with a machined knock-off center) is pure art. Those are real Halibrand wheels in front, Evod wheels in back shod with Dunlop Racing tires.

Grand National Roadster Show 2018, AMBR, Fuel Curve

1932 Ford Roadster

Grand National Roadster Show 2018, AMBR, Fuel Curve

This candy Burgundy ‘32 Ford hiboy was garage-built by San Jose’s John Leonti. The body was shaped by John himself with a 5” hood-stretch! It rides on a custom TCI chassis with polished IFS. Ron Mangus stitched up the red leather interior. Got rake?

Grand National Roadster Show 2018, AMBR, Fuel Curve

1932 Ford Roadster

Grand National Roadster Show 2018, AMBR, Fuel Curve

From the Chad Adams Hot Rods stable down in Rydal, Georgia, Adams’ latest righteous roadster is bad in black with the perfect stance. Adams is renowned for his chassis business but he builds a better roadster than most. Highlights include a 420hp small block Chevy, deep black paint, Bop Top canvas lid, and a custom tobacco brown interior stitched by Adams and his team. The dash and column are beautiful. Adams clears the surface then “smokes it” with a torch until it “browns up” to his liking. This is a hell of a roadster built for John & Pat Miller

Grand National Roadster Show 2018, AMBR, Fuel Curve

1932 Ford Roadster

Grand National Roadster Show 2018, AMBR, Fuel Curve

This is what happens when a hot rod meets a Corvette Stingray. From the original Corvette 327c.i. V8 (with 9.6:2 compression and camel hump heads) to the Corvette gauges, steering wheel and interior stitching (by M&M Hot Rod Interiors) Sean Black’s Alabama based roadster is rowdy and raked. The Daytona blue is spot on as are the ET III wheels. Neat car!

Grand National Roadster Show 2018, AMBR, Fuel Curve

1932 Ford Roadster

Grand National Roadster Show 2018, AMBR, Fuel Curve

From Riverdale, New Jersey comes Scott Helliesen’s 50s style hot rod roadster. Scott and Jason Anagnostis built the car as a team with the goal of keeping it classic and simple in the mold of the classic McGee roadster. Mission accomplished! They started with rails from Shadow Rods then fabbed up the rest of the underpinnings with a Chassis Engineering X-member. The 258 c.i. Flathead adorned with Offy heads and intake is shifted through a Chevy S10 T5 manual trans with an adapter going to torque tube. Trick! The red is ravishing as is the tan leather interior by Harry Parker. Retro roadster indeed!

Grand National Roadster Show 2018, AMBR, Fuel Curve

1932 Ford Roadster

Grand National Roadster Show 2018, AMBR, Fuel Curve

This sweet Ice Blue hiboy by Cruzer’s Customs is all class. Keeping the color scheme consistent is the dark blue leather interior by Gabriel & Sons. The Edelbrock crate small block Chevy is ready for the road and the bias ply-shod ET Wheels are the perfect choice. It is a Texas car built for Brian Cruz of New Braunfels.

Grand National Roadster Show 2018, AMBR, Fuel Curve

1929 Ford Model A Roadster

Grand National Roadster Show 2018, AMBR, Fuel Curve

Last but one of our favorites is the historic Eddie Dye roadster painstakingly restored by Orange County’s Circle City Hot Rods. It rolled in way late but got inside building 4 just in time for judging. The car is exactly as Gil Ayala built it for Dye in 1951. In 1952 it adorned the cover of Hop Up Magazine. In front of the track nose is the chromed tubular nerf bar. It is channeled over the deuce frame and has a stroked flathead with Evans heads and intake. You might notice the mismatched hubcaps (Ford in front, Merc is back) – that’s the way it was originally shown. The white pleated upholstery is a throwback. Congrats to everyone who pulled off this bitchin’ restoration.

Grand National Roadster Show 2018, AMBR, Fuel Curve

Bonus Grand National Roadster Show Set Up Day Gallery!

Senior Editor, Digital Media

With three decades of automotive journalism under his belt, John Drummond serves as Senior Editor – Digital Media for Fuel Curve and Goodguys Rod & Custom Association where he has worked since 1990. Drummond got his start in motorsports reporting by making a fake press pass to gain starting line access. The ruse worked and he began covering auto races as far back as 1986 in Northern California, eventually getting his stories published worldwide. He has owned and driven everything from a 1957 Plymouth Belvedere to a ridiculously modded Subaru WRX as well as a string of Mercedes AMG’s, most of which had the warranties voided the day after leaving the dealership.

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