GNRS 2022 - Meet Your AMBR And Al Slonaker Award Winners

GNRS 2022 – Meet Your AMBR And Al Slonaker Award Winners

The warm sun washed over the San Gabriel mountains last weekend, shining down on the little old City of Pomona. The brutal Covid ice age has started to subside, and things are beginning to thaw out for hot rod fans. RodShow’s 72nd Grand National Roadster Show was a smashing success at the Pomona Fairplex and a good time was had by all. The event showcased the top roadsters, hot rods, and custom vehicles in the country, and all the best builders and cars were there in full force. The popular drive-in event was extended to two days and VW was the featured marque with a huge turnout.

As usual, there was a heaping helping of cool cat culture with enough pomade, oversize denim, and flannel shirts to supply an Elvis impersonator convention. The “Bettys” were out in period-correct finery too and added a nice female counterpoint to all the testosterone.

The action wasn’t confined to the big kahuna awards either. As any seasoned GNRS patron will acknowledge, some of the best cars linger around the edges of the show, built by mere mortals who toil away in their garages under the cloak of suburbia. I’m always flabbergasted by the talent and skill of these driveway “Da Vincis'”

Although GNRS has something for everyone when it comes to cars, it’s known for one of the oldest and most prestigious awards in the automotive world, America’s Most Beautiful Roadster, (AMBR), and is presented each year to the best “open” hot rod in the country.

Not only will the AMBR winner take home the title’s $12,500 prize provided by ARP Bolts, but it will be immortalized on the award’s 9.5-foot-tall perpetual trophy alongside a “who’s who” of hot rodding, including legendary builders like George Barris, Andy Brizio, Boyd Coddington, Troy Ladd, and Chip Foose.

2022 AMBR Winner: 1934 Chevrolet “Lucille” – Jeff Breault, Owner/Built by Devlin Rod and Customs

Here is America’s Most Beautiful Roadster for 2022. This 1934 Chevrolet took more than seven years to build and what a doozy. Nicknamed “Lucille,” the car was created by the team at Devlin Rod & Customs on a Roadster Shop chassis and features an interior by Chuck Rowland Interiors. A modern high-performance LS engine resides under the hood, but you wouldn’t know it because the mill was all dressed up in vintage trimmings. The car blends the best of new and old. Congrats to Jeff and the guys at Devlin.

The Rest of The Best – AMBR Contenders

Left - 1928 Ford Roadster/Root Brothers, Right - 1929 Dodge DA Roadster/Jellybean Autocrafters

Left - 1927 Ford Roadster "Black Magic"/Jeff McSweeny/Richard Wells, Right - 1933 Ford "Sapphire"/Foose/Brizio

Left - 1935 Ford Roadster "Sage", Right - '32 Ford "Dooling Roadster"/Joe Dooling Sr.

Left - Ford Roadster/Kevin Williams/New Metal Coachworks, Right - 1934 Ford "Special Speedster"/Bruce Wanta/Hollywood Hot Rods

Street Muscle’s Fave AMBR – A Tie!

A NOTE FROM AUTHOR DAVE CRUIKSHANK - I love what I've dubbed "Cotton Candy" builds. Mid-century modern, kustom roadsters in bright colors with steelies and whitewalls. This kind of build might not be the autocross demon or sport the latest high-tech frames and gear, but they are easy cruisers that sit right and cut a svelte figure at the curb. Both these two builds, the Cusey Roadster owned by Bob Owens and Squeeg's Roadster on the right are quintessential examples of nostalgic builds from the kustom era of rodding and were sensational.

Next up, is the Al Slonaker Award. The Al Slonaker Memorial Award reached parity with AMBR with a matching $12,500 prize thanks to award sponsor ARP Bolts. The award is dedicated to the memory of Al and Mary Slonaker, who founded the Grand National Roadster Show in 1949.

2022 Al Slonaker Memorial Award – 1932 Ford/Pat Gauntt, Owner/ Hollywood Hot Rods, Builder

This year’s winner is another feather in the cap of hot rod impresario Troy Ladd from Hollywood Hotrods. This 1932 Ford Coupe owned by Pat Gauntt, is the winner of the 2022 Slonaker award presented to the best non-roadster vehicle at the show. Gauntt’s Ford Coupe features a buffed-up 331 Cadillac engine with 390 heads and burly high-compression pistons. Many surprises lurk on the car like brass hinges with pins, incredible custom jewelry, and elaborate machine work, all steeped together in a funky steampunk brew. The Slonakers must be smiling from above.

The Rest Of The Best – Al Slonaker Contenders

Left - 1958 Corvette/Eckert's Rod and Custom, Right - 1961 Chevrolet "Dirty Martini"/Dave Duffy/Big Oak Garage

Left - 1956 Chevrolet Truck "REDefined"/Ken and Susan Fontes/Sicchops.com, Right - 1932 Ford "Blind Date"/Sonny Freeman/Mike Goldman Customs

Left - 1940 Chevrolet Suburban/Amadeo and Teri Angelo/Roseville Rod and Custom, Right - 1952 VW Bug "Turmoil"/Gary Stell Jr.

Left - 1936 Ford Club Cabriolet "Tina"/Grampa Tim and Jack Frey, Right - 1955 VW Beetle Convertible/Arthur Shapiro, Owner/Builder

Left - 1937 "Kind of Blue" LaSalle/Garrett Jedlicki/Salinas Boys, Right - 1969 "Brut 69" Camaro/Jesse Lindberg at Norcal Paint and Bodywork

Street Muscle’s Fave Slonaker – 1937 LaSalle “Kind of Blue”

NOTE FROM AUTHOR DAVE CRUIKSHANK – This nostalgic LaSalle was a killer. I dig fat fendered sleds and this big coupe was chopped and smoothed to perfection. Nary a straight line on the car, it’s all curves and soft surfaces, but tight and tucked perfectly. The size of the car was the perfect canvas for the LaSalle stylists to roam free back in the day, and Cole Foster of Salinas Boys brings their original design into crystal clear focus.

Congrats to all the winners and everybody who brought their best game to the show. Thanks to RodShows for a great production and ARP for sponsoring the awards. Next, is the Sacramento Autorama up in NorCal in April 2022. For now, so long Pomona and we’ll see you again after a spin around the sun.

Photography – Dave Cruikshank

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About the author

Dave Cruikshank

Dave Cruikshank is a lifelong car enthusiast and an Editor at Power Automedia. A zealous car geek since birth, he digs lead sleds, curvy fiberglass, kustoms and street rods. He currently owns a '95 Corvette, '76 Cadillac Seville, '99 LS1 Trans Am and big old Ford Van.
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