GNRS Top-5 Picks: It’s A Tough Job, But Somebody Has To Do It

The assignment came in, “can you go to GNRS and pick your top-five Chevys?” That was a simple enough assignment, how can someone not want to do this, right? It seemed easy enough, and you know there’s going to be some killer Bow Ties at the event. What’s more, you get to enjoy the festivities of the longest-running indoor car show in the world, now in its 70th year. For the 16th consecutive year, the Grand National Roadster Show – once known as the Oakland Roadster Show – was  at the Pomona Fairplex this past January, and it was spectacular.

This is the event that hosts some high-dollar builds, some home builds, and everything in between. It’s also the show where the coveted America’s Most Beautiful Roadster (AMBR) award is awarded. There were a slew of heavy hitters this year, all excellent examples of the craftsmanship from some of the best builders in the country. Over 500 show vehicles graced the indoor area, and outside showcased another several hundred vehicles.

We told you it was difficult to pick just five favorites. We've added a gallery at the end, as well as a Runner-Up or two, or three. Next time, let's all meet up and decide together.

The task at hand – choosing the Top-5 picks – was a ‘challenge-accepted’ opportunity that quickly turned into a ‘what-have-I-done?’ dilemma, because the cars were just that good.

The first thought was, ‘how about a first pick and a seven-way tie for second pick?’ But that wasn’t going to fly; do your job was the mantra, and with that as the driving force, the challenge needed to be met head-on. It’s a tough job, but somebody has to do it. So, without any further ado, we bring you our favorites from the 2019 Grand National Roadster Show.

Favorite C10 Truck

Vehicle: 1980 C10

Owner: Ed Borges

Home town: Rancho Cucamonga, California

Engine: 350ci, 400 horsepower, FiTech EFI

Sponsor components: Eddie Motorsports, Dakota Digital, Classic Performance, Classic Auto Air

Why we like it: Ed’s C10 wasn’t our choice because it was over the top, we chose it because it’s simple and clean. The Toxic Orange finish and the Gold Haze highlights throughout were a great combination and done very tastefully.

Toxic Orange and Gold Haze turned out to be a very nice color combination, and for a truck with everything coated in two basic colors, it isn't overdone.

The PPG Mango Tango Toxic Orange was applied by PSI Autobody in Ontario, California, and it was indeed toxic. Coming around the corner and seeing this truck, well, one look was all it took and it was a favorite.

Hopefully, you can see why Ed's truck stopped us in our tracks and became our choice for C10. Sometimes it's not about how far you go with the build, but how close you stay to a main theme.

Our Runner Up: 1964 C10, Darin Smith from DWS Classics, Huntington Beach.

Darin Smith's 1964 C10 also caught our eye, and it's running a stack injection with lots of custom touches throughout. Darin used the 'circle' theme (8-stack) throughout the truck, including the bed of the truck, and the core support where his billet Champion radiator cap shows through.

Favorite Corvette

Grand National Roadster Show

Vehicle: 1967 Corvette

Owner: Larry Landrith

Home town: El Dorado Hills, California

Engine: 427ci LS7, 505 horsepower, Dry-sump oil system

Sponsor components: Tremec TKO 600 five-speed transmission

Why we like it: If the color of this Corvette Stingray isn’t enough to draw you in, it’s probably going to be the fact that it’s running a full C7 Corvette suspension and brakes, with coilovers.

One look at the interior, and we wanted to hop in to take it around the block — or maybe the county. The custom leather interior was flawless, and the shifter looked right at home in the console. This is one old-school Corvette that has to be a blast to drive.

Walking up to Larry’s Corvette, we were drawn in because, if you know Corvettes from the 1960s, then you know the stance on this one isn’t stock. The custom wheels weren’t the only thing that made it suspicious. It gave the notion that there was some serious brawn to this classic.

If you're going to go with red, this was the right color for this Corvette. Every inch was beautiful, and it looked like a solid car that will throw you back in the seat when the skinny pedal is mashed.

Our Runner Up: 1957 Corvette, Rhonda Ralph from Portland, Oregon.

Grand National Roadster Show

Rhonda's Corvette was another beauty that caught our eye. Under the hood is a Chevrolet Performance LS3 backed by a Tremec five-speed. Once it gets moving, the Art Morrison chassis and C5 front suspension keep it under control. Wilwood brakes at all four corners bring it to a stop. The PPG custom-mixed Creme de Menthe Pearl finish was a good choice.

Favorite Camaro

Grand National Roadster Show

Vehicle: 1971 Camaro Z28

Owner: Stephen Aguilar

Home town: Fullerton, California

Engine: LSX 454/Mast LS7 Black Label Heads

Sponsor components: Bowler six-speed transmission, MSD Intake, Holley EFI, Detroit Speed Suspension, Baer Brakes

Why we like it: There wasn’t a square inch that didn’t look like it’s been finely modified. The car is called “Infrared” and it has earned it. The entire execution of this build was spot-on and added some class to an otherwise typical muscle car.

The interior was completed by Gabe’s Custom Interiors, and if you’ve been around the show car world, you know his work is some of the best. The interior caught our eye because of all the custom touches; the billet switches, the trick wiring harness/fuse block under the rear seat, and the gauges.

Infrared sounded as great as it looks, and the satin finish on the engine gave a nice contrast to the energy-absorbing bright orange finish. Stone's Metal Shop knocked this one out of the park, and while there were a few nice Camaros, Infrared took the top spot for us.

Our Runner Up: 1969 Camaro, Ray Ziglari from Upland, California.

Grand National Roadster Show

There are usually a lot of 1969 Camaros at car shows, and we saw more than a few at GNRS. But, Ray's Camaro, sporting a 572-incher with its eight-stack fuel injection and killer stance was enough for use to give it a mention. The interior is very trick and non-traditional, but looks very well done.

Best Chevelle

Grand National Roadster Show

Vehicle: 1969 Chevelle

Owner: Mitch Kelly

Home town: Garden Grove, California

Engine: Pace Performance 525ci LS, 600 horsepower, FiTech EFI

Sponsor components: Tremec five-speed transmission, Currie Enterprises, QA1, Eddie Motorsports,Wilwood, American Racing

Why we like it: There were a lot of Chevelles at the show, and most all of them were unique for one reason or another. But this one from Kelly and Sons was over-the-top spectacular. The dark-red finish was actually a very well done fade, and the custom touches throughout were done extremely well.

Everything about this Chevelle screamed at you, begging for attention. It was on a huge display at the entrance, and its neighbor was the Ridler Award-winning '57 Chevy. To be honest, although the '57 Chevy won for its outstanding execution and design, this Chevelle was worthy of being parked next door.

This Chevelle looked like it could be part trailer queen, and part hard-core driver. While the paint and interior were that of a career show car, you couldn’t help but notice how many performance cues were there. The brake/clutch reservoirs on the firewall, the huge brake rotors, the 600 horsepower, Tremec transmission, and the Currie-built rearend – all connected by a carbon-fiber driveshaft from QA1. This Chevelle would be fun at an autocross . . . or even the Silver State Challenge?

There's a lot of red around this Chevelle, and it's an eye-catcher. It was difficult to get photos without a crowd around. These pictures don't do it justice, that deep, dark red was incredible.

Our Runner Up: No explanation necessary – build in progress

This Chevelle was a work in progress, and it is gong to be one nasty build. We'll let the pictures speak for themselves.

Best El Camino

Grand National Roadster Show

Vehicle: 1970 El Camino

Owner: Scott Cooper

Home town: Orland, California

Engine: 572ci BBC, Hilborn EFI

Sponsor components: Tremec six-speed transmission, Wilwood Brakes, Art Morrison Chassis

Why we like it: It’s dark and mysterious, and packs one helluva punch. This was a difficult vehicle to shoot because of the color . . . it looks black, but it’s really a dark, chocolate brown. Scott didn’t list the actual color, but with the way everything went together, it was too good to pass up.

Scott's El Camino won the award for Best Truck at the GNRS, and you can see why.

Scott calls his El Camino "RelentleSS", and that likely describes how you have to go about a build like this. We didn't see too many El Caminos there, but this would have been our favorite, regardless.

We had so many others we wanted to put on this list, but the instructions weren’t to pick one and then seven that tied for second. We’ve put together the gallery below with many others that were very deserving of a spot on the list.

Photo gallery


About the author

Michael Harding

Michael is a Power Automedia contributor and automotive enthusiast who doesn’t discriminate. Although Mopar is in his blood, he loves any car that looks great and drives even faster.
Read My Articles

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