A Look Back at Two Decades of Goodguys / March Performance Street Rod d’Elegance Winners
The Goodguys / March Performance Street Rod d’Elegance award celebrates the refined and elegant side of street rodding, those carefully crafted and coach-built rods that are more about style and grace than all-out performance. The award’s origins actually date back nearly 30 years, when the honor was intertwined with the first Street Rod of the Year competition at the Goodguys “Kar Kapades” event in Monterey, California.
The Street Rod d’Elegance moniker reemerged and began gaining prominence toward the turn of the new century and eventually became part of Goodguys’ elite “Of The Year” awards, now known as the Goodguys Top 12. Open to pre-’49 street rods, the competition is essentially a beauty contest – the selection committee looks for the most elegant and gorgeous car from among that year’s contenders. What makes a car elegant? That’s not always easy to put into words, but the winners tend to have graceful, flowing lines, rich details, and thoughtful design, in addition to impeccable fit, finish, and construction quality.
Street Rod d’Elegance was initially awarded at the All American Get-Together in Pleasanton, California, but the award competition moved to a permanent new home at the Del Mar Nationals beginning in 2003. The refined, upscale setting of the Del Mar Fairgrounds made a perfect home for this award. The facility is steeped in rich pageantry and tradition, a resort-like area where the wealthy and famous have come to play for generations. Nestled next to the sea, it’s the sort of place you’d want to cruise in a finely crafted street rod.
Over the past two decades, the Street Rod d’Elegance competition has attracted an incredible parade of candidates and the winning vehicles have included some of the most influential builds in modern history. Game-changing creations like Wes and Vivian Rydell’s Grand Master Chevy sedan, Ken Reister’s “Impression” ’36 Ford, and Bruce Wanta’s spectacular “Mulholland Speedster” ’36 Packard are among the winners. Fat-fendered rides from the mid- and late-’30s seem to have an advantage thanks to their alluring curves and Art Deco influences, as evidenced by cars like Kevin and Karen Alstott’s ’35 Ford roadster, Ron Cizek’s ’40 Ford coupe, or Wes and Vivian Rydell’s ’40 Oldsmobile sedan.
We thought it would be interesting to take a look back at Street Rod d’Elegance winners from the past two decades and see how the definition of d’Elegance has evolved through the years. It’s interesting to see the different design approaches builders have taken in their quest to earn this honor. It’s also worth noting how fresh and relevant many of these builds still look today. That’s the thing about well-designed and well-crafted elegance – it never seems to go out of style.
1929 Ford Roadster Pickup
Carlos Lara was always willing to push the rodding envelope and bring different styles into the mix, which is exactly what he and builder Roy Brizio did when they pulled European flavor and Italian flair into this lakes-influenced Model A. Built on truncated ’32 rails and powered by a Weber-side-draft-fed Jaguar six-cylinder engine, the car was part hot rod and part sports car. A polished aluminum fuel tank and equally polished Dutchman quick-change rearend were on full display behind the RPU body, while a Super Bell axle and Model A headlights made simple leading visual elements. Finished with British Racing Green paint and beautiful tan leather upholstery by Sid Chavers, this little roadster kicked off the new century in classic style.
1932 Ford Roadster
Leonard Lopez got his start in motorcycle and USAC Midget racing, so it’s no surprise that the hot rods he’s created at his Dominator Motorsports shop in the past quarter century frequently have a competition influence. Leonard’s personal Deuce roadster added enough refinement and flair to capture the d’Elegance crown in 2001 thanks in part to a smooth body coated in Ferrari Red paint and a curved-glass windshield. Even the power came from a refined source – there was a polished and well-detailed Cadillac Northstar V8 breathing through those polished side pipes. Polished Halibrand wheels provided sparkle, while European-style tan leather upholstery finished off the cockpit in fine style.
Wes & Vivian Rydell
’35 Chevrolet Sedan
Chip Foose was hitting his stride in the early-2000s and changed the street rodding game with Wes Rydell’s “Grand Master” ’35 Chevy, ushering in an era of clean-sheet coach-built cars. Every panel of the two-door sedan was reshaped or custom fabricated by Doug Peterson to achieve Foose’s design vision before the Foose team did the finish work and applied the jade green and silver finish. The custom chassis was as refined as the body, with an independent front suspension, Corvette-based IRS, ’96 Corvette LT4 engine, and one-off Foose wheels. A leather-trimmed cabin reflected the same elegance, helping the Grand Master to earn the 2002 Ridler Award in addition to its Goodguys Street Rod of the Year and Street Rod d’Elegance wins.
’33 Mercury Coupe
Yes, we know it’s not really a Mercury (that marque wasn’t established until 1939), but Chip Foose chose a Mercury theme for Ron Whiteside’s ’33 Ford coupe after cutting down a ’50 Merc steering wheel to use on it. The coupe’s frame was built by Foose’s old boss, Boyd Coddington, and was outfitted with a Chevy LT4 engine, Wilwood disc brakes, and 16- and 17-inch Foose wheels. Marcel’s Custom Metal did the initial slicing on the much-modified body, which was refined and painted in a BASF “Sedona Fire” hue by Foose’s team. Finished with two-tone tan leather upholstery by Jim Griffin, the coupe won the 2003 Ridler Award before taking the Goodguys Street Rod d’Elegance crown.
1937 Ford Coupe
The wife of a car enthusiast, Caryn Burch wanted a cool ride of her own for poker runs and found this ’37 Ford at the Goodguys Lonestar Nationals. It had been built by Alan Johnson at Johnson’s Hot Rod Shop with a chopped Lincoln Zephyr top, deep red paint, a 502c.i. big block Chevy, and a low-slung chassis. Caryn and her husband Bob returned the car to JHRS for some freshening up with some design input from Chip Foose and Chris Ito. The refreshed “Scarlett Phantom” sported one-off 18- and 20-inch Foose wheels, big Baer brakes, custom side trim, and a one-off dash complementing the custom leather upholstery by Paul Atkins. The end result was red hot and just right.
Jim & Nancy Morgan
1940 Ford Coupe
Jim Morgan’s history with this ’40 Ford dated back to the ’60s, when a friend owned it and it was the baddest car in town. Jim jumped on the opportunity to buy it in 2000 and brought the coupe into the new century with a Scott’s Hot Rods chassis, RideTech air springs, 19- and 20-inch Boyd Coddington wheels, and a small-block Chevy V8 backed by a Richmond six-speed. Marcos Garcia and the team at Lucky 7 Customs finessed the body with peaked front fenders, a rolled rear pan, custom taillights, a billet grille, and beautiful PPG purple and champagne paint. With a custom dash and vanilla-colored leather upholstery by Sid Chavers, this coupe exuded elegance.
1936 Ford Roadster
Known as “Impression,” Ken Reister’s incredible ’36 Ford roadster started as a sketch on a napkin by Chip Foose and resulted in an incredible coach-built street rod that would capture the 2005 Ridler Award, the 2006 America’s Most Beautiful Roadster honor, and both Street Rod d’Elegance and America’s Most Beautiful Street Rod from Goodguys in 2006. The Marcel DeLay body blended ’36 and ’37 Ford design elements and rode on a custom chassis with independent front and rear suspensions, an LS1 engine, and one-off 18- and 20-inch wheels. Foose claimed there were more than 4,000 custom-machined and one-off parts on the car, which was finished in a pewter BASF hue and elegant two-tone leather upholstery. Impression definitely raised the bar.
Kevin & Karen Alstott
1935 Ford Roadster
Builder Roger Burman and owners Kevin and Karen Alstott had a tremendous couple of years with this ’35 Ford roadster, capturing the coveted Ridler Award at the 2006 Detroit Autorama and America’s Most Beautiful Roadster at the Grand National Roadster Show in 2007 before taking home the Goodguys Street Rod d’Elegance honor. The sleek hand-formed body by Marcel DeLay was covered in distinctive two-tone PPG paint, rode on a stretched custom frame with an all-aluminum 408c.i. Donovan engine and one-off 17- and 20-inch wheels, and wore elegant Recovery Room leather upholstery inside. It finished the 2008 season in style, too, capturing the Goodguys America’s Most Beautiful Street Rod award in Pleasanton.
Doug & Flo Hoppe
1935 Ford Coupe
Builder Roger Burman had back-to-back Street Rod d’Elegance wins with ’35 Fords, bringing home the honor in 2008 with Doug and Flo Hoppe’s stylish green three-window coupe. Designed by Jason Rushforth, the coupe’s nose was stretched, the grille laid back, the body wedge-sectioned, and the top chopped, all of which was covered in a distinctive Estate Green hue. A modified TCI chassis rolled on one-off wheels designed by Rushforth, while a detailed and polished Roush-built 402c.i. Ford V8 was topped with eight-stack injection. A custom-built and woodgrained dash led the way inside, complemented by brown calfskin leather upholstery with basket weave inserts, all stitched by the Recovery Room. “It’s been a great ride!” Doug exclaimed after winning.
1939 Ford Convertible
Marvin Bok had quite a year in 2009 with his sophisticated ’39 Ford convertible built by Roseville Rod & Custom, winning both the Goodguys Street Rod d’Elegance and America’s Most Beautiful Street Rod honors. With a wedge-sectioned and thoroughly refined body and a laid-back, chopped windshield, the convertible looked sumptuous under its rich PPG Cabernet paint. The TCI chassis incorporated RideTech air springs and many polished and plated components and rolled on one-off chrome-plated EVOD wheels, with a supercharged 4.6-liter Ford V8 for power. European-style tan leather upholstery gave the cabin an equally elegant feel, as did the custom dash with a large oval speedometer from a ’35 Olds and matching custom gauges.
1932 Muroc Roadster
A Chip Foose design and Marcel DeLay-crafted body were a winning combination for the limited-production Muroc roadsters, which is what Jerry Magnuson started with when building his “Magnatude” award winner. Built around a Kugel chassis with polished independent front and rear suspensions, Magnuson’s machine incorporated an LS1 Chevy engine force fed by a Magnuson supercharger (of course) and backed by a Tremec six-speed to get a set of one-off Foose 17- and 20-inch wheels rolling. The two-tone butterscotch pearl and champagne paint was complemented by a custom cloth top, DuVall-style windshield, fabricated trim, hidden headlights, a custom dash, and beautiful two-tone leather upholstery stitched by Jim Griffin.
1933 Ford Roadster
Designed by Chris Ito and built by Steve’s Auto Restorations, this custom steel roadster was crafted from scratch with hand-formed steel panels. The sleek body reimagined the ’33 Ford in a more sultry and angular shape, which was adorned with a custom grille, headlights, and split windshield. The chassis was also a hand-crafted affair, with tubular crossmembers, an innovative split dropped front axle, and a Mustang Cobra IRS with cantilevered coil-over shocks. Power came from a supercharged Mustang Cobra 4.6-liter modular engine, which had no problem spinning the Boyd-carved wheels. With the deep black and metallic red finish complemented by Sid Chavers-stitched black leather inside, this custom roadster had all the right d’Elegance elements.
John & Nancy Coenen
1937 Ford Sedan
John Coenen’s “Laid Back” ’37 Ford sedan had a long build journey, starting at Hot Rods by Boyd before Coddington’s passing, spending time at Dominator Street Rods and at Mickey Galloway’s shop, and getting finished at Charlie Hutton’s Color Studio. The smoothed body incorporated laid-back A-pillars, a laid-forward rear panel, wedge-cut body, flush glass, and custom grille, trim, and taillights. It was bathed in custom two-tone PPG paint. The one-off 17- and 20-inch Boyds wheels connected to a modified Art Morrison chassis motivated by a supercharged 5.4-liter Ford Lightning V8. The cabin sported a center-mounted ’50 Ford gauge cluster and elegant leather stitched by Gabe Lopez, resulting in a sedan that was not only laid back, but also stunning.
1940 Ford Coupe
Builder Andy Leach was a relatively new shop owner in 2013, but his CAL Automotive Creations team knocked it out of the park with Ron Cizek’s jaw-dropping “Checkered Past” ’40 Ford, which also won the 2013 Ridler Award and Goodguys Street Rod of the Year. The coupe wore a chopped top, wedge-sectioned body, scratch-built hood, and re-contoured body panels under cranberry paint by Charley Hutton. Custom-carved 18- and 20-inch wheels by Atomic Machine got turning thanks to a supercharged ’52 Merc Flathead backed by a T-56 six-speed. One-off custom details could be found throughout the cabin, where Boss Interiors stitched saddle brown English leather with distressed inserts over the custom seating and the modified dash housed a custom gauge cluster.
Wes & Vivian Rydell
1935 Chevy Phaeton
A few months after capturing the America’s Most Beautiful Roadster crown, Wes and Vivian Rydell’s “Black Bow Tie” ’35 Chevy Standard Phaeton took home the Street Rod d’Elegance honor in Del Mar. The rare phaeton (one of just 217 built) was finished and painted at Rad Rides by Troy after initial construction at Rydell’s Toy Shop and design work by Chip Foose. The body was lengthened 2-inches, the wheelbase stretched 3-inches, the grille shortened, and the windshield laid back. A Roadster Shop chassis employed Heidt’s independent suspensions and a 383c.i. Chevy RamJet engine. Finished with red leather upholstery, nickel plating, a black canvas top, and a period-style luggage rack, this was one bitchin’ bow tie!
1935 Ford Coupe
When Canadian Randy Marston set out reconstruct his 48,000-original-mile ’35 Ford coupe, he had one person in mind to steward the build: Roger Burman. Burman has crafted many ’35 Fords at his Lakeside Rods & Rides shop and turned Marston’s three-window into a winner with a stretched wheelbase, chopped top, wedge section, laid-back grille, and beautiful black paint. A 6.2-liter GM LS9 backed by a Tremec six-speed gave it plenty of punch, while a Pete & Jake’s chassis with a TCI IFS and Kugel IRS tucked up the Schott wheels. Tracy Weaver trimmed a stunning gray leather interior at his Recovery Room shop, with Dakota Digital gauges and a Billet Specialties steering wheel finishing things off.
Wes & Vivian Rydell
1940 Oldsmobile Sedan
Leave it to Wes Rydell to dream up an elegant street rod crafted from a 1940 Oldsmobile 90 Series sedan. Named “Agness” after the piano teacher who first owned her, the Olds was a collaborative effort between Rad Rides by Troy, Pinkee’s Rod Shop and Rydell’s longtime in-house stylist Doug Peterson. Modifications included raised rear fenders, a pie-cut hood, double-sealed doors, and beautiful tan and green paint. A Roadster Shop chassis supported an LS3 engine and Cadillac CTS-V independent rear suspension, with beautiful custom wheels modeled after ’58 Olds hubcaps. Inside, the dash and garnish moldings from a ’49 Cadillac were complemented by yards of luxurious leather and modern amenities to make this a truly regal ride.
1936 Packard Roadster
Bruce Wanta’s spectacular “Mulholland Speedster” ’36 Packard was a coach-built masterpiece, with a classic design by E. Black and incredible craftsmanship by Troy Ladd and the Hollywood Hot Rods team. Most of the car’s body was hand-formed, with sweeping pontoon fenders and sleek lines flowing back from the classic Packard grille. The chassis was designed as a figure-eight structure with a twin dropped I-beam front suspension incorporating quarter elliptical springs, a Winter’s quick-change rearend, and gold wheel covers wrapped in wide whitewalls. A Latham-supercharged Lincoln Zephyr flathead V12 provided power. Concours-quality tobacco leather upholstery by Mark Lopez at Elegance Auto Interiors finished this gentlemen’s car off in regal style and made the Mulholland Speedster a once-in-a-lifetime car.
1940 Ford Convertible
Known as “Lucille,” Debbie Walls’ ’40 Ford convertible blended classic custom and street rod elements in a rich-looking package. Subtle but extensive modifications by Goolsby Customs included a chopped ’48 Ford convertible top, ’39 Ford Deluxe front clip, ’46 Chevy bumpers, and ’41 Studebaker taillights, all covered in beautiful merlot-colored BASF paint and augmented with custom trim. A Roadster Shop chassis provided a more modern foundation, while the small-block Chevy engine was well dressed with Borla stack injection, custom valve covers, and vintage-style turquoise paint, with a Bowler-prepped transmission behind. Inside, the custom dash featured a gorgeous one-off center waterfall feature and gauge cluster, a beautiful custom steering wheel, and elegant, classic-style leather-and-cloth upholstery.
1933 Ford Roadster
Tim Kerrigan’s sleek and stylish’33 Ford roadster enjoyed a second spin in the spotlight after originally being built in the early-2000s. The first build and recent facelift were both performed by Dominator Street Rods using a hand-built full-fendered body with a custom-crafted grille, headlights, trim, and taillights. Steve Martinez sprayed the rich House of Kolor paint. The body covered a custom frame with independent front and rear suspensions, Winters quick-change rearend, and 18- and 20-inch wheels by EVOD. A 4.6-liter Ford Cobra-R engine with a ProCharger and Imagine Injection stack-style EFI provided power, while the two-place cockpit was outfitted with custom gauges from Classic Instruments and two-tone tan leather by Sid’s Custom Upholstery.