2014 Grand National Roadster Show: The Grandaddy Of Them All

Copy Edit - GNRSRod Authority has the pleasure of collaborating with good friend and fellow contributor, Dennis Pittsenbarger. As of late, he had all but tossed in his typing skills for time behind either a microphone or video camera, leaving automotive journalism on hold. With the 65th annual Grand National Roadster Show, Dennis came through with some great coverage, combining video and the written word to provide Rod Authority with some exclusive coverage of “The Grand Daddy of Them All”. If you’re fans of beautiful customs, bikes, hot rods, gassers, and those daring enough to contend for the coveted title of Americas Most Beautiful Roadster take a trip through the halls of the Pomona Fairplex.

A Century Of Speed–Celebrating 100 Years Of Bonneville Salt Flats Racing


Teddy Tezlaff drove the Blitzen Benz to the amazing speed of 141.73 m.p.h., setting an unofficial record in 1914

Visitors wandering into building nine were greeted by the sounds of speed, Bonneville speed to be more specific. If you wanted to immerce yourself in the heritage of Bonneville’s prestigious history you were in the right place. Ron Main, a self-described wild man of the salt gave a personal tour of the amazing history that filled the building’s walls. From the Blitzen Benz and it’s hundred year old run of 141.73mph to several members of the 400mph club you could not stop being amazed by the velocity packed stories that roamed the collection. The “A Century of Speed” display, celebrating the 100th Anniversary of Bonneville past, present, and future of of the slat flats was a site all its own. Proceeds from the book sales are completely dedicated to help make sure that Bonneville is here for another 100 years.

Builder Of The Year–Steve Cook Of Steve Cook Creations


Steve Cook Creations debuted the 1956 Ford “Suncammer” at the Detroit Autorama in 2011 and captured the coveted “Riddler” award as well as several other awards.

One of the most flattering awards of the Grand National Roadster Show is being crowned “Builder of the Year”. This year’s recipient was Steve Cook from Steve Cook creations. For Steve and his team the process and passion of building cars is far greater than the award at the end of the show-car display.

Rod Authority sat with Steve and though warned by friends and Steve himself of his inherent shyness and quite nature, he opened up and shared a wealth of information. No ego, no boastful comments–just a real guy that has a passion, a vision, and the patience to build world class show cars that are fully functional. There was no doubt that Steve and his team were fully deserving of the honor.

2014 AMBR–America’s Most Beautiful Roadster Contender Breakdown

Next up was a tour through building four to check out the contenders for this year’s America’s Most Beautiful Roadsters. Helping Rod Authority with that task was Hollywood Hot Rods own Troy Ladd. Not only is Troy a gifted builder, he is also a judge, and if you check out the coverage from last years Grand National Roadster Show it is by no means an easy task to determine who the honor should go to. Nevertheless, Troy lead the tour of each AMBR contender and with the help of several other friends, insights, and notes, Rod Authority came up with its personal picks for 2014. You can check that out in a followup feature article. For now, here’s a peek at each of the contenders accompanied by video footage below.

Paul Gommi’s 1932 Ford Phaeton


Paul Gommi ’32 Ford Phaeton is not only a true all-steel example, but also sports a supercharged 21-stud flathead. The car was completely home built, including paint, body, engine, and interior.

Roseville High School’s 1931 Ford Pickup


This ’31 Ford roadster pickup built by Roseville High School out of Michigan was sporting fenderwell headers that framed the build perfectly–it was a crowd favorite.

Bill Enderson’s 1923 Ford Model T Roadster


Bill Enderson’s 1923 Ford Model T-Roadster called “Tub for 2” sat on white bearskin rugs and sported an array of chrome and classic touches including wide whites at each corner.

Ronnie & Debra Goodwin’s 1932 Ford Speedster


Ronnie and Debra Goodwin’s 1932 Ford Speedster was for all intents and purposes, a guideline for a traditional hot rod build. It was highlighted by great interior touches and poverty caps.

Dan Van Auken’s 1932 Ford Deuce Low Boy Roadster

AMBR1932Ford DeuceLow BoyRoadster

Dan Van Auken’s 1932 Ford Deuce Low Boy Roadster was another traditional build that took advantage of out-of-the-box colors to show off its beauty.

Richard Chiarenza’s 1934 Chevrolet Phaeton


Toss in some big block Chevrolet power with zoomies exiting the front fenders and anyone at the GNRS knew Rod Authority was hinting at Richard Chiarenza’s 1934 Chevy Phaeton.

Gerber Special 459 Syclone Motorsports Roadster


The “Gerber Special” has topped the 200mph mark over 35 times, but put aside its racing duties to make a run at the AMBR.

Larry Maddox’s 1932 Ford

AMBRLarryMaddox1932 Ford

Larry Maddox and Doug Dwyer’s 1932 Ford Roadster “Blue Steel” is a Ford 427 SOHC powered brute and was certainly the extrovert amongst the AMBR contenders.

Charlie & Karen Matus’s 1927 Ford

AMBRMatus1927 Ford

It’s no surprise that Charlie & Karen Matus’s 1927 Ford with its 1951 Flathead won best engine in the AMBR category. It was the small details that set this contender apart.

Bill Grant’s 1932 Ford Deluxe Roadster


Bill Grant’s 1932 Ford Roadster was another contender outfitted with everything one would need to win the AMBR. Between the clean feel and perfect stance, including full fenders made this ’32 a hit.

Wes Rydells’ 1935 Chevrolet Phaeton


When Wes Rydell decided to build a contender for the AMBR he surrounded himself with the best–Chip Foose created the design and Rad Rides by Troy made the magic happen.

America’s Most Beautiful Motocycle Contenders

The Grand National Roadster Show is not about to forget about how important and visually stunning two-wheeled creations are. Here is your personal peek at the contenders for the 2014 America’s Most Beautiful Motorcycle. The video below provides a look into what makes this part of the annual Grand National Roadster Show so special for enthusiasts of the two-wheel creations that gifted builders bring each year.

The Fun House–2014 GNRS Suede Palace

SPOVERALLIMAGEThe Suede Palace was established to provide a place for traditional low-buck, homebuilt hot rods and customs that preserve the heritage of heyday traditional hot rodding of the 40s, 50s and 60s. Axle Idzardi helps continue the trend of traditional hot rods by building with old school hardware and maintaining purist looks through genuine parts and early speed equipment. The Suede Palace is not only about the traditional and era correct rides, but also the lifestyle that goes along with the feel of Axle’s vision. Nostalgic clothing, neon signs, pinstriping, classic art, and of course beautiful pinup girls filled the building and rounded out this must-see portal into a time gone by but hardly forgotten.

AMBR–Most Beautiful Motorcycle And Roadster For 2014

Last and by no means least are the winners of both the AMBM–America’s Most Beautiful Motorcycle and AMBR–America’s Most Beautiful Roadster. It is and will always be one of the most coveted and prestigious awards the automotive community places each year. The history and richness of these awards brings out builders of past and present to accumulate their love of custom work that is hardly rivaled in the custom coach work arena.

Lupo of Lupo Racing and his custom creation that is as much hot rod as it is motorcycle was the recipient of this year’s AMBM. His language barriers were no match for his drive to create and build a special bike that had a constant audience throughout the show weekend.

Wes Rydell’s 1935 Chevy Phaeton built by Troy Trepanier of Rad Rides by Troy won the 2014 America’s Most Beautiful Roadster award. This outstanding effort of both design and function was a sight to see. From the smallest details to the largest of modifications this was the overwhelming “whispering winner” of the show. It was no surprise to us that in the end it took home the nine foot trophy and the title of America’s Most Beautiful Roadster.

Make sure to check out Rod Authority’s gallery of images below and for infomation on how to attend, vend, or exhibit that special vehicle in your garage at next years show, make sure to contact John Buck and the GNRS staff at www.rodshows.com.

About the author

Dennis Pittsenbarger

Admitted knucklehead and automobile aficionado to the bone, Dennis shares his car obsessions and current news with a hot-rod-loving audience worldwide.
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