The National Street Rod Association (NSRA) made its annual visit to the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa, Florida, for their final event of the 2015 season, the 28th annual Southeast Street Rod Nationals. This event is one of the most popular and largest happenings that take place in the City of Tampa throughout the year, and the 2015 edition saw more than 1,300 specialty vehicles occupying the majority of the 330-acre fairgrounds. The tens of thousands of eager motorheads that made their way through the turnstiles were treated with chamber of commerce weather the entire weekend.
For those of you that have never had the opportunity to attend one of the NSRA shows, a major factor in the popularity of these shows is the fact that vehicles are displayed in an unconfined manner. There are no ropes or barriers to keep you at a safe distance. Spectators are free to walk right up next to the vehicle and check it out. Of course, one should refrain from touching, or in some cases, drooling on the cars. Regardless of your particular interest, be it hot rods, street rods, trucks or vintage iron, you will definitely find something on the grounds that will get your adrenaline flowing.
You may also want to explore the swap meet there. You can find everything from an alternator for a 1958 wide-track Pontiac to a turnkey, 1937 Ford Woodie, or maybe you need a taillight lens for your AMC Javelin. Whatever you might be looking for, there’s a very good chance one of the vendors at the swap meet will have exactly what you need. If you look close enough, you might even find that extra-elusive white elephant that has escaped you for the past 10 years.
If you are reading this article, there is a strong possibility that you are already familiar with the NSRA, and just what they consider to be a street rod. For the benefit of those that are new to the NSRA, the organization is the largest of its type, and boasts a membership of nearly 50,000 members nationwide. The NSRA classifies a street rod as a vehicle manufactured pre-1949 equipped with modern safety features to enable the vehicle to safely operate on today’s roads and highways. With over 1,300 vehicles displayed at the Southeast Street Rod Nationals, it would be nearly impossible to highlight or describe all of them, so here’s a look at a few of the NSRA award winners, and a few of our personal favorites.
NSRA Rep/Safety Award: A beautifully restored 1949 Plymouth sedan owned by Howard Tarnoff of Port Orange, Florida. Mr. Tarmoff got his inspiration for this car at a very young age, “I started washing cars at Hartung Rambler in Milwaukee when I was 10 years old. I watched the mechanics working on the cars and my favorite was the old Mopar with the inline six-cylinder motor. I remember thinking, if I ever built one, what would I build?”
Tarnoff’s Plymouth sits on a modified Chrysler chassis with Fat Man dropped spindles, four-wheel power disc brakes and a Currie 9-inch Ford rearend. The motor is the original Chrysler 218 ci block with a 9.5:1 Edgy aluminum head, Edmunds intake, and Webber 2-barrel carburetor. Transmission is a ’52 Desoto overdrive. The build took three years and Tarnoff says “it was truly a labor of love.”
NSRA Long Distance Award: The Long Distance Award is just what it implies. The award is given to the entry that traveled the longest distance to attend the show. The honors for the 2015 Long Distance Award went to Jan and Jeff Rich from Lakewood, Washington. They drove their 1961 Nash Metropolitan convertible over 3,100 miles to attend the event. The little bright orange and vanilla shake white Nash is powered by a 2.4 liter 22R Toyota motor with a five-speed manual transmission. The car rides on a Fat Man Mustang II front suspension, and a narrowed 10-bolt GM rearend. Mr. Rich affirms the little car drives like a dream and Mrs. Rich grinned when she stated, “We drove the entire way here with the top down, and we don’t intend on putting it up anytime soon.” Not only did this car win the Long Distance Award, it was hands-down the crowd favorite.
NSRA Pros Pick Award: Greg and Trish Land from nearby Trinity, Florida took home the prestigious Pros Pick Award with their gorgeous 1955 Chevrolet 210 hardtop. Mr. Land purchased this car in 1978 and used it as his high school driver. He even took his wife, Trish, on their first date in the car. As you might expect, the car has undergone a number of changes and improvements over the years. Its current configuration is the result of a two-year and 10-month frame off restoration by Time Machines Inc. in Hudson, Florida. The car sits on an Art Morrison Chassis with Heidts front suspension, a 9-inch Ford rearend with coil over shocks and four-link rear suspension. A GM Performance Crate 502 Ram Jet sits between the frame rails coupled to a 4L80 GM automatic transmission. The PPG black and gold paint adds the finishing touches. All in all, a beautiful ride.
A Milk Truck No More
This extra sweet 1934 Ford Panel Truck is owned by James Danner of Tallahassee, Florida. It is not your father’s milk truck. This custom designed and built beauty sits on a hand fabricated, tube frame with a Jaguar suspension, both front and rear. The truck is powered with a 430 ci Buick coupled to a GM 2004R transmission. A custom leather interior and hidden sound system provide the tunes, converting this one-time milk truck into the show vehicle it is today.
Mike and Debbie Boyd from Val Rico, Florida brought their mega horsepower, nitrous-infused, hand-fabricated dump truck to the show, which drew a lot of attention. The truck started life as a 1951 Ford dump truck. “I always wanted to build a dump truck.” Boyd laughed. “I didn’t think it would end up like this though.” The truck sits on a hand-fabricated 2×6 steel tube chassis with Afco coil overs on all four corners and a floating four-link suspension. The aluminum and pine dump bed was also hand fabricated by Boyd Bros. The truck gets its 900- plus horses from the 557 Ford stroker attached to a Ford C6 transmission. It moves power to the ground through the 3:70 gear housed in the Tiger Quick Change, and the 22.5-inch Hoosiers provide the bite. Although unconfirmed as of this writing, rumor has it, this could be a nine-second truck.
Our favorite street rod, without a doubt, is this beautiful Calypso Green 1950 Chevrolet two-door Deluxe fastback. This car dates back to an era when the major manufacturers were starting to think about aerodynamics, or back then, streamlining. These changes to the body were more to improve performance and overall speed, as economy, at the time, was not even a consideration.
This car is owned by John Starkey of Bradenton, Florida, only the third owner of the car. “I just fell in love with the body style,” Starkey said with a smile. The car features a 327ci Chevrolet with three 2-barrel Rochester carburetors, a GM 700R4 transmission and a differential from a late model Nova sporting a 3:23 rear gear. The Riddler Wheels and Arizona radials provide a slightly lowered stance, the Hagen French headlights, and the smooth bumpers add a clean finished appearance. Overall, it was one of the cleanest cars on display.
Other notable vehicles included a “Love You Blue” 1937 Ford coupe daily driver with a very subtle flame accent down the sides. A lime green 1923 Buick opera coupe was very unique with a fold-away front passenger seat, and the original 22 horsepower inline six-cylinder motor under the bonnet. A 1947 Chevrolet Fleetline Woody, complete with matching surf board caught our attention, as well as this really mean looking ebony and gold 1969 Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser.
Our overall personal favorite, The pretty little red Ford Falcon convertible is owned by Levon Hilton of Sarasota, Florida. This little red beauty may not have been the most photogenic, or the overall best of show, but the car brought this author back to a time when there was a 1963 Falcon sitting in the garage.
The 2016 NSRA event calendar has been finalized with 10 events scheduled across our great nation. From coast to coast, north to south, there will be an NSRA event located in your area, so make plans to attend one, or more, when they come to your area. For additional information, event schedules, and how you can become an active member of the NSRA visit the official website at www.nsra-usa.com Please don’t forget to check out the gallery of images from the NSRA Southeast Street Rod Nationals at the conclusion of this article.