When it comes to one of the biggest car shows in the country, the Goodguys Rod and Custom Association is at the top of the list. But to say that it’s just a car show does this extravaganza a serious injustice. It all began many moons ago as a “gathering” with a bunch of gearheads, and decades later it’s become the show of shows, with just about something for everyone.
With Goodguys, you have your car show on Friday and Saturday for vehicles up through 1972, and that portion of the event spreads across the entire fairgrounds in Del Mar, from the first moment you walk inside the gate until you’re at the other end of the grounds. The show includes vehicles from the daily cruiser to the never-cruised, best-of-the-best show cars – like this year’s Ridler Award winner Ron Cizek’s 1940 Ford.
Cizek’s custom, blown street rod, was also the recipient of the Street Rod d’Elegance award at this year’s Del Mar show. It’s been making the rounds in the show car circuit, and is the epitome of what custom car builds are all about. But the event doesn’t start or stop with show cars, not by a long shot. While Cizek has every reason to be proud of his award-winning ride, the pride and dedication to the hobby is all around, as you can find awesome vehicles in every nook and cranny of the fairgrounds.
Cool Customs, High-Dollar Builds, Non-Stop Admiration
When entering the show at the East end of the fairgrounds, the first big building to the left is O’Brien Hall, which is where spectators found most of the high-dollar builds and customs. The cars in this building were, in a word, amazing. From Ron Cizek’s Ridler Winner (above) to any number of custom builds making their way around the show circuit, the Hall was filled with mile-deep paint jobs, mirror-finish chrome, and dropping jaws all weekend long.
To pick a favorite almost seems sacrilegious because it makes you feel like you didn’t like any of the other cars equally. With just about every stop, it’s something different, and then again, something the same: awesome rides with liquid paint jobs.
The atmosphere inside O’Brien Hall is just what you’d expect at almost any outdoor show for high-end customs; people were carefully dusting off their show cars, answering questions, and thanking those who showed admiration and respect for their rides.
As we made our way around, some people stopped to tell us how much they respected us photogs who go around trying to capture digitally what our eye-sockets pick up from the glare and reflections in all of these great cars.
Several other buildings had either show cars or activities going on, from model building, car model displays, games, and vendors who sold almost anything – from appetizers to wheels, and everything in between.
Two more buildings off behind O’Brien Hall, the Bing Crosby Hall and the Exhibit Hall, each had their share of customs. One of the great things about the Goodguys shows is that you get to see lots of cool customs that you don’t regularly get to see. When you start taking a closer look at the owner cards on the windshields, it makes you wonder where these cars have been hiding because many of them are locals to the venues, within an hour drive. It’s hard to imagine seeing these cars at local outdoor shows, however, because many of the paint jobs and custom builds seem to be worth more than the homes in the area.
Another nice thing about this event is that we didn’t see any vehicles roped off like we have at other big shows. Even the Ridler winner was right there where you could get up close and check out the detail – all without a telephoto lens on your camera. Everyone was approachable, and the show was non-stop when it came to people moving from one car to the next, and from one building to the next.
Getting decent pictures, without a crowd around a car, that was a difficult task. It’s hard to admire a car through a lens and try to convince those around the car that they can’t get up close as well, because enjoying these cars from a distance isn’t what these shows are all about.
As we made our way around, we tried to pick out some favorites for you, and while we know the golden rule is “you can’t please all of the people, all of the time” it would hold true if we were to pick all of them as our favorites – because it’s just that tempting! On that note, we give you the Rod Authority Top Quick Picks from Meguiar’s 13th Del Mar Nationals.
Rod Authority Top Quick Picks
As we mentioned, picking the Top Five would be difficult, but we still managed to find a few that we liked for various reasons. Some were just clean and uncluttered, some were unique, and others had engines that completed the whole package. We narrowed it down to a few, and tried to keep our picks varied and unbiased. Yes, that was a hard thing to do because we liked them all.
This Impala just plain screamed at us when we walked over. We couldn’t help but lay our hands on the sheet metal and ask, “is that really sheet metal?” It looked like it was ABS plastic made from a mold, the curves were perfect, the colors were sharp, and the twin turbo mill made us want to see more. The text on the valve covers had a drop-shadow to it, and “UNDER PRESSURE” was fitting.
Overall, we fell in love with this car because it looked like one we’d love to drive, even knowing full well that we can’t. This car needs to be immortalized in plastic, because I’m sure it would be very cool to build one of your own, even if it is in 1/24th scale.
One thing we don’t see much of – or enough of – is a green car. Not just green, we mean really green. In a world full of custom colors, we’ve seen all the primary colors, the various shades of black, and the purples and oranges. We’ve even seen mint, sea mist, hunter green and the list goes on. Along with the screaming color, the chopped top, lowered stance and triple carbs had us triple impressed.
But this Model A caught our eye as it seemed to light up the immediate area around it. If the paint wasn’t screaming 120V, the chrome reflected the lights above enough to create a bright area around the front of the car. It’s green, alright, and we’re green with envy. Too cliche? Maybe, but oh well.
This Chevy was just different. Not because it had flames, or because it had a mile-deep paint job, or custom wheels, though. It was different because it didn’t have the ubiquitous SBC under the hood. It didn’t even have a V-8, it had an inline-six with triple sidedraft carbs. How often do you see that in a street rod?
The color-changing flames were impressive, as well, and this heavy Chevy ‘vert was just begging to have its top dropped and to cruise up and down the boulevard a few dozen times. We like it when someone strays from the norm and brings us something we haven’t seen.
We’ve seen yellow street rods quite a few times, and they usually pull it off very nicely. Most cars today can’t do yellow, they don’t look right and the color will usually get you teased. A street rod, however, dressed in yellow will make people wish they had a yellow car. Why is that?
Most people will laugh at anyone with a yellow car, but this one – with it’s pearl yellow paint – just looked like it was in the right place. Could it be that the other two primary colors were strategically placed in the background to make this coupe stand out? It doesn’t matter, the clean lines, the great paint and the tan interior set this Coupe apart, and the yellow theme under the hood was just as cool.
We love the Tri-Fives, and while the tweener sedans aren’t as popular as their older and younger siblings, this one stood out for obvious reasons: the paint was eye catching, and the contrast was filled with hues we don’t often see on the same palate.
If the color changing brown-to-green flames weren’t enough to make you list back and forth to watch them change, the flames running up under the hood and up over the inlet sheet metal were enough to make you look closer. The whole engine compartment was a nice touch, as were the subtle rocker/bumper skirts. And how many people do you think noticed the grille inlet on the lower bumper? Nice touch.
The Snake and the Mongoose
It’s hard to find an enthusiast who isn’t familiar with the extremely popular and always entertaining battles from the 1970s with Don “The Snake” Prudhomme and Tom “The Mongoose” McEwen. We saw these two compete for decades, immortalized in plastic model kits, Hot Wheels, and all sorts of memorabilia over the years.
This year at Del Mar, we got a special treat in more ways than one. Goodguys held interviews with both Don Prudhomme and Tom McEwen took place at the Clock Tower with both racers, and they both shared some of their racing past, how they got into drag racing, what they loved about it, and more.
Despite the personal battles that we sometimes see on racetracks, it was great to see that these two icons of the drag racing world are still friends and both had a tremendous amount of respect for each other. With a rivalry that spanned several decades, you’d be hard pressed to find another pair of racers who have maintained that type of respect for so long, let alone find a pairing that lasted as long as these two did in the racing world.
Mr. Prudhomme shared his stories of how he got into racing, and how the $50 wins started coming in and how he was making more money racing than painting cars. Mr. McEwen shared some of his insights on the motion picture due out this fall. The Snake and The Mongoose should debut in September of this year, and will showcase their careers and highlights, long overdue in our opinion. They were a true marketing gold mine, one that will probably remain unmatched in our lifetime.
We also got to see both of their restored rigs from decades past, in all their glory. What memories that brought back, and standing next to each hauler and race car surely brought back memories to plenty of fans. Seeing both cars up close and personal, seeing them as they were with not a spot untouched, was another great highlight to the show.
AutoCross Action Keeps Spectators Lined Up
One event at the Goodguys shows that has been getting bigger and bigger every year is the Goodguys AutoCross. What started out as a spirited competition between man and machine is now something that spectators can’t seem to get enough of. Competitors are bringing out the big guns, with classic cars that would leave Detroit’s best in the proverbial dust.
These cars were never meant to be thrown around in the cones, but with the increasing aftermarket support we’re finding full race suspensions, big brake kits and cars with wider tires in the front than most cars can fit in the back. There’s plenty for everyone, whether you’re racing your daily driver at a somewhat leisurely pace with friends and family in the back seat, to full on pro-circuit autocrossers who travel the country competing with other hard core racers.
The autocross was at the West end of the fairgrounds this year, moved in a little closer to the central area of the event, and had spectators lined up along the fence cheering on competitors, both amateur and professional. In past years, the racing was pushed back in a corner, but to capitalize on a movie line, “Nobody puts baby in the corner” and this baby was now in with the rest of the fairgrounds, right there at the end of the main drag.
Saturday racing took a brief break so Goodguys could put on the infamous “Editor’s Shootout” pitting automotive editors against each other to see who can run the course in the shortest amount of time. The vehicles were selected, and each editor had one run in each of three vehicles: the Ford Focus GG/ST Goodguys Giveaway car, a 1966 Ford Mustang owned by Kyle Tucker of Detroit Speed Engineering, and a ’67 Ridetech Camaro that were generously donated for use on the track.
All American Sunday Welcomes Late Model Musclecars
On Sunday, people saw something different from the Friday and Saturday prior: they saw modern musclecars in attendance, many of them parked right next to the classic cars. Super Sunday includes any vehicle that fits one of two criteria: American-made, or American-powered vehicles.
We gotta get that guy parked inside here, because then they’ll start talking, and he’ll start understanding how cool older cars are. -Gary Meadors
With a show that began with just classic cars prior to 1972, it’s become another big hit at the Goodguy’s shows all across the country. Goodguys founder Gary Meadors shares, “My theory there was to get a guy to appreciate a ’40 Ford, or a ’32 or a ’65 Chevy. We gotta get that guy parked inside here, and let him park by a guy with one of those cars, because then they’ll start talking, and he’ll start understanding how cool older cars are. And then we’ve got a new convert.”
Meadors’ theory has worked, because we found plenty of late model muscle in attendance on Sunday, from Camaros to Vipers, and everything in between. Back in the day, they kept some of the newer cars out of the shows, but with the resurgence of musclecars lately, it’s become a big part of All American Sunday.
Something for Everyone, Young and Old(er)
What car show wouldn’t be complete without the swap meet or the car model contests? The car models give the younger ones a chance to show off their future car building and customizing skills. You never know how these 1/24 scale kits can inspire a kid to become a Chip Foose, Troy Trepanier, or maybe they could team up with a sibling like the Ring Brothers? You never know, but we think it’s awesome to see kids ripping the parts from the tree and putting together their first car. We’re getting misty already.
Down “Main Street” of the fairgrounds, vehicles constantly cruised back and forth, occasionally revving the engine for the appreciative and cheering crowd making its way from building to building, or from one end of the fairgrounds to the other. Any car entered in the show could be driven down “Main” albeit at a leisurely pace, and the traffic wasn’t limited to the beginning or end of the day. All day long we saw cool customs making the loop, turning around at each end and making the trip back. With all of that action, which part of the Goodguys’ events do you like the most?
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