Bowtie Bonanza: Our Five Favorite Chevys At GNRS 2024

Ground zero for custom cars was at the base of the San Gabriel Mountains in Pomona, California during the 2024 Grand National Roadster Show (GNRS). The Pomona Fairplex was tingling with excitement as the best custom cars and trucks from around the country set up shop on the historic fairgrounds. The weather was good and the mood was festive for what is one of our favorite car shows in Southern California.

Although there was an amazing array of cars from every era at GNRS, the show is known for celebrating pre-war roadsters. The big kahuna award is America’s Most Beautiful Roadster (AMBR) and competition is fierce, to say the least. This year was no different as nine incredible rods battled it out to take home the title’s $12,500 prize provided by Automotive Racing Products (ARP). The second big prize is the Al Slonaker Memorial Award. Think of this as the big daddy trophy for other eras of cars such as Camaros, and Mustangs, along with ’50s and ’60s iron.

Chevy Hardcore was on the ground at GNRS and we had a mission to find the coolest Bowtie builds for our readers. It was a hard job but someone had to do it, so we came back to the office with our five favorite cars from the show, and in no particular order here are our picks:

Our Top Five Chevys From The 2024 GNRS

1959 Chevrolet Impala, David Rush/Owner, Steve Cook Creations/Builder, 2024 Al Slonaker Memorial Award Winner

A 1959 Chevrolet Impala christened “Bespoke” clinched the 2024 Al Slonaker trophy. Dedicated to the memory of Al and Mary Slonaker, founders of the GNRS in 1950, the award has been presented to the best non-roadster vehicle since 1974. Rush also claimed the $12,500 purse money courtesy of ARP Fasteners and a custom, billet trophy.

Brewed up by Steve Cook Creations, the Impala features a husky LS3 motor built by Don Hardy that is nestled into a Roadster Shop chassis. Despite its space-age factory styling, many changes were made to the exterior. The batwing beauty has been modified with raised front wheel openings, lengthened body lines, a custom aluminum hood, front and rear valances, and side-and-quarter-panel trim. We love the color, big wheels, and baseball glove-colored interior.

1932 Chevrolet Coupe – Dale Short/Owner, Amrosio Concepts/Builder

The GNRS is a Blue Oval stranglehold and the last Chevy that won AMBR was way back in 1950. As Chevy fans, we were over the moon when we spotted the pre-war Chevy coupe in all its rootbeer brown glory. This thing is powered by a potent, 540 horsepower LS3 V8, backed up by a trusty 700R4 transmission. We’re guessing 400-plus horsepower here, with more than enough scoot to get this little coupe to the local show and shine.

Running gear includes Heidts front suspension, Schott wheels, and big gumball BFG tires, We especially liked the car’s stance and all the meticulously restored brightwork via Ogden Chrome Plating. The custom hardtop, tobacco-colored interior with custom steering wheel slathered the icing on the cake. We are all for automotive diversity and that’s what Dale Short’s Chevy brought to this year’s AMBR shootout.

1957 Chevrolet Bel-Air Convertible, Clifford Mattis/Owner, Lucky 7/Builder

We loved this slammed, slate-gray, Chevy ragtop. For regular custom car showgoers, Cliff Mattis and Lucky 7 are familiar names and have teamed up before on some outrageous builds. This Chevy, aka “Inspire,” is their latest collaboration. We dug the slate gray paint, the faired-in skirts, and otherwise unmolested original styling.

Under the hood resides an LS engine dressed up in an old-school Chevy orange paint and black Batwing air cleaner adding a nice punctuation of color to the pastel engine bay. The interior walks a fine line between original and modern and hits the bullseye. The low stance and skirts made this Bel Air look as long as a battleship, awesome.

1955 Chevy aka “55 Evel” Tony Gomez/Owner, Lakeside Customs/Builder

Evel Knievel, if you can hear us in heaven, check out your namesake ’55 Chevy built by Lakeside Customs. This red, white, and blue Tri-Five is a star-spangled tribute to the world’s most famous daredevil and it wowed the crowd at GNRS. With a 1,096 horsepower, 712 cubic-inch big block, and a TCI Automotive TH400 tranny, this mega drivetrain sets the tone for the rest of the build.

A stout foundation underpins this beast as well. An Art Morrison chassis, Wilwood brakes, Ridetech air suspension, Budnik wheels, and Hoosier tires are just a taste of all the goodies packed into “Evel 55.” We loved the painted red, white, and blue side spear, notebook-paper white body paint, and charcoal wheels. A great combo and a breath of fresh air at the show.

Legacy Series 1971 Chevelle Greg Heinrick/Owner, Ironworks Speed, And Kustom/Builder

This 1971 Chevelle was so impressive in person. A perfect melding of restomod and vintage Chevy coolness, all in a usable, driver-friendly package. We talked with the guys from Ironworks Speed & Custom, and they filled us in on the story behind the Legacy Series cars they’re offering to the world. The company makes five cars a year and the first run is already sold out.

A buyer can specify any 1970-1972 GM mid-size car and have it built with Ironworks’ array of gear.  They start with a Speedtech chassis, upgraded running gear, and an LT4 with a ten-speed automatic. The build quality inside is impeccable with modern seats, carbon fiber trim, and paddle shifters. The stance with steelie rims and dog dish caps was sublime. Fantastic.

The Final Word

There were many more great Chevrolets at the show and we just skimmed the surface here. Just because GNRS is known as an early Ford show, doesn’t mean they represent all the cars at the show. If you are ever in Southern California in February, you owe it to yourself to attend the GNRS event and see for yourself why it’s called the “Grandaddy of All Car Shows.” Not only is it a glimpse at the coolest cars and the biggest builders in the world, but you also get a front-row seat to the cool culture, music, and history of the Pomona Fairplex.

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Dave Cruikshank

Dave Cruikshank is a lifelong car enthusiast and an editor at Power Automedia. He digs all flavors of automobiles, from classic cars to modern EVs. Dave loves music, design, tech, current events, and fitness.
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