Another show season has come and gone, and with it, another amazing spectacle called SEMA . We took it all in, scoured the miles of displays for the best rides, and are proud to share with you our top choices for the best cars there.
But we’re not just talking about five or ten cars. No sir, because there were so many amazing vehicles to choose from, this year we decided to break up our “Top 5” features a bit, highlighting three different categories: Roadsters, Pre-War vehicles and Post-War vehicles. Look for these individual articles coming soon, but for now, let’s get to our first of three features, the Top 5 Roadsters of SEMA 2016 (in no particular order):
1) Greg Clouse’s 1933 Factory 5 Roadster
Built using Factory 5‘s 1933 Roadster kit as a base, this incredible build was brought to life by West Coast Auto Craft. Though it may look like a pure show-piece, this all-aluminum roadster gets driven often, and the owner even stretches its legs on the track.
Certainly not your traditional roadster, this one-of-a-kind ’33 features a steel, tube chassis, 8.8-inch Ford rearend with 3.55:1 gears, a four-link rear suspension with coilovers, and Factory 5’s unequal-length A-arm front suspension.
Other defining features of the car include 11-inch disc brakes controlled by a Wilwood pedal assembly, one-off 18×9 front and 18×12 rear wire wheels by Wheelsmith that are wrapped in sticky Nitto whitewalls, and a massive 510 ci V8 built by Peters John Racing Engines. Built to deliver ultimate performance, the stroked 460 ci V8 features a COMP Cams hydraulic roller camshaft, JE forged pistons, Edelbrock aluminum heads, custom steel headers built by West Coast Auto Craft, Imagine Injection EFI with stacks, and an MSD ignition.
Aesthetically, the roadster truly is unique. It features a custom hood with copper-trimmed openings for the stacks, louvers down the sides, and custom cutouts to accommodate the car’s independent front suspension. You’ll also find a louvered decklid and rear pan, and custom fender vents for the side-exit exhaust system.
The interior follows suit with many custom pieces of its own, including custom bomber seats with pleated covers, a one-off copper steering wheel, tons of detail rivets, and an incredible dash with a multi-instrument gauge from Classic Instruments in the center of the dash. Topped off with a Spies Hecker Deep Black paint and ample amounts of copper trim pieces, this roadster is just as aesthetically pleasing as it is performance tuned.
2) Chris Evan’s 1931 Ford Roadster
One of America’s Most Beautiful Roadster contenders in 2016, was this gorgeous 1931 Ford was built by Charles Spencer of Charly’s Garage. A real looker with a custom Axalta blue paint and chrome accents, this car is certainly worthy of inclusion within the AMBR contest as well as being one incredibly fun ride.
The first thing that caught our eye was its custom blue paint and the matching blue and white interior. As it turns out, the exterior blue is a custom mix, using Axalta’s Cromax ChromaPremier BS 186 paint. This color is carried over onto the dash, Lime Works Crestliner steering wheel and steering column, and even the background of the Classic Instruments Esquire gauges and carpeting.
White tuck and roll with blue piping over a modified Glide Engineering bench seat frame and matching door panels set off the otherwise blue interior ever so nicely, bringing about a crisp custom finish.
This gorgeous car also features a custom chassis fitted with boxed American Stamping frame rails, a 4-inch-tube X-member, So-Cal Speed Shop transverse spring front and rear suspension, a 4-inch-drop front axle, and a radiused rear section that is connected to a mighty 1954 331 ci Chrysler Firepower V8. The Hemi is bored 0.030 over, and boasts an Autotrend EFI unit tied to a FAST fuel management system, Ross Racing pistons, and Hot Heads aluminum heads.
Add all that to an all-steel Brookville Roadster body, and you’ve got yourself one heck of a top-notch roadster!
3) John and Claudia Forcum’s 1936 Ford “Liberty” Roadster
A rare car in its own right (less than 4,000 Ford roadsters were produced out of more than 50,000 vehicles in 1936), this beautiful mid-’30s roadster has gone from used and abused, to a Meguiar’s show car during its lifetime. With restoration work done by Donald Thornburgh, and customization, paint, and assembly done by The Garaj Mahal, we think this car’s glory years have just started.
Built atop a Fat Man Fabrications chassis, the Liberty roadster features a 2-inch chop, smoothed, rear-mounted spare tire location, and a straight rear bumper and bullnose trim. Altogether, these mods definitely enhance the classic aesthetics of this beautiful ride. But don’t let the vintage look fool you. This classy ride is equipped with many modern touches, including push-button start, GPS, and a modern powertrain.
Inside the roadster, you’ll find traditional bench seating in red with tuck-and-roll inserts, a similarly upholstered rumble seat, black carpeting and door panels, and a 2015 Liberty silver dollar mounted with backlighting in the center of the dash. The silver dollar was placed as such, because the car was “liberated” from its previously stored-for-40-years status in 2015, leading to the car’s name. It’s also follows an old sailing tradition of putting a coin at the base of a ship’s mast to bring luck and good fortune.
Under the hood, the car boasts an Edelbrock Racing Pro-Flow fuel-injected 380 hp crate engine, tied to a 700R4 SS transmission from Phoenix Transmission. Additions like an in-tank fuel pump add even more modern performance features into the works.
4) Darryl And Terri Hollenbeck’s 1932 Ford Roadster
For Roadster owners, there’s no title more coveted than America’s Most Beautiful Roadster, and Darryl and Terri Hollenbeck’s ’32 Ford was named just that for 2016. There was no question whether to include this car in our Top 5, once we found it displayed prominently in the PPG booth.
Built using a Brookville Roadster body, the Hollenbecks’ car features a custom chassis built by Dan Webb of Webb Automotive Art and Cory Taulbert. It features a ’40 Ford crossmember, So-Cal rails, a Rodsville Halibrand-style rearend built by Hot Rod Works, Dutchman axles, split ’40 wishbones, a custom panhard bar, and SO-CAL shocks. All of this is flanked by original 16×4 and 18×4.5 ’40 Ford wheels wrapped in Firestone rubber and backed by ’41 Lincoln brakes.
Powering the traditional hot rod is an Edelbrock crate engine, featuring a Walker radiator, an MSD ignition, custom Moal built air cleaner, and a custom 2-inch stainless exhaust system. Backed by a Borg Warner T5 built by Astro Performance and tied to a Dynotech driveshaft, this nostalgically carbureted engine produces a respectable 380 hp.
Moving to the exterior of the car, the traditional theme continues. Featuring a one-of-one Sid Chavers BopTop (a lightweight, collapsible convertible top), the roadster boasts a Rootlieb hood with 25 louvers per side, a Brookville grille with custom center bar, shortened vintage post mirrors, Chrysler airflow taillights, and Guide headlights. All of the body modifications were done by Darrell Schneider and the owner of the car, Darryl Hollenbeck (of Vintage Color Studio fame), who also painted the car using a custom military green PPG Envirobase paint.
Inside, the car has been treated to a custom leather interior with the seats featuring ’69 Cadillac fabric inserts by Sid Chavers, a Lime Works Crestline steering wheel, and an extended Brookville dash with custom glove boxes by Dan Webb. Finally, a Stewart Warner Hollywood dash panel and gauges onitor the car’s vitals. The finishing touch to the interior is a custom shift knob, which was formed by using the paint gun drippings from three generations of Hollenbeck automotive painters!
5) Brian George’s 1931 Ford Roadster
There are a lot of top awards that can bestowed on classic roadsters in this industry, and one is the honor of being the Goodguys Hot Rod of the Year, which Brian George’s roadster took in 2016. A beautiful car with some awesome traditional touches, there’s no going wrong with this last (but certainly not least) of our Top 5 roadster of the 2016 SEMA Show.
Built by Roseville Rod & Custom, this stunning roadster was treated to a complete overhaul, with every body panel being massaged a bit. The doors were re-skinned, the rear wheel wells were pinched, and a custom hand-formed cowl was added. The car also features E&J headlights, a DuVall-style windshield, and a Pines Winterfront grille. Inside, the car is fitted with mahogany floor boards, custom leather upholstery by Dave Putnum, and a vintage gauge cluster from a 1929 Chandler that’s been outfitted with modern instrumentation thanks to Classic Instruments.
Built not just to be looked at but also driven, the roadster features quite the punch-packing drivetrain. The foundation is a classic Ford Flathead, but it’s been upgraded significantly with an Ardun overhead valve conversion and a SCoT blower. This is all backed by a Turbo 350 transmission. Adding even more performance value to the car is a Winters quick-change rearend, a custom suspension with wishbones, 1940 Ford shocks, and leather-wrapped springs. Finally, 16-inch steelies from Wheel Vintiques, are wrapped in Firestone rubber and their rotation is stopped with So-Cal disc brakes.
One for the books, this amazing roadster took home not only the honor of being named as one of our Top 5 roadsters, but also with a well-deserved Ford Design “Best of Show” award from this year’s SEMA Show.
It wouldn’t be a typical SEMA Show without there being at least a couple of extra vehicles we just couldn’t help but mention. Although these vehicles didn’t quite make our Top 5 list, they came very close. One such car from the 2016 SEMA Show was Vince Unrein’s 1932 Boydster that was decked to the nines in gloss red paint with a matching simplistic red interior. Unrein’s Boydster features a Boyd Coddington Pro Ride chassis with Aldan coilovers, a 383 small-block stroker with machined and brushed valve covers and air cleaner, and Hot Rods by Boyd wheels wrapped in General G-Max tires.
The other car we’d like to include in our “Honorable Mentions” section is the 1932 Metal of Honor Roadster, that was actually built several years ago to benefit the IronMen Foundation. This car features a Brookville Roadster body, MHT/Foose Legend wheels wrapped in Pirelli rubber, a TCI Engineering chassis, Ford 302 ci V8 making about 340 hp, and a Currie 9-inch rearend.
While this roadster has been around for a handful of years, it’s still an amazing car, bringing awareness to an amazing cause! You can check out our previous coverage of the Metal of Honor Hi-Boy Roadster here and here.