My Car Quest

February 16, 2020

The Grand National Roadster Show – 2020

Hey, Customs are us – yes, the breeds live…

by Wallace Wyss –

The custom car is alive and well as I just saw at the annual Grand National Roadster Show at the Los Angeles County Fairgrounds in Pomona.

But it’s not a unified movement–no, there’s many branches of the same tree, each borne from that desire to make a car “your own,” i.e. to put you own stamp on it. The biggest group was low riders, but at the touch of button the hydraulics would shoot them upwards.

Grand National Roadster Show

One trend that’s bigger than ever was tall wheels, maybe as much as 22″ in diameter. I especially admired the wheels on a Lincoln Continental convertible. The part you saw was huge so I imagine they had to do lot to make room in the wheel wells to retain some wheel travel. But oddly on the one displayed outside, the owner dispensed with the convertible top–maybe because the overly complicated tops are fraught with relay failures. But my enthusiasm waned when I saw he had no substitute top, one that functions easier than the ’60s original.

Seduced

This Ford hot rod (Seduced, AMBR 2005 Winner, owned by Paul & Eric Hansen with coachwork by Moal) was set against a “dream garage” background

Surprising was the presence of a Jaguar Mk. V sedan–the workmanship as good as any Pebble Beach winner. There was yet another Jag, was custom but one that looked like a stock factory lightweight racer E-type coupe.

Jaguar Mk. V

The workmanship on this hot rodded Jaguar Mk. V sedan was every bit as good as a Pebble Beach contender.

Slowly dying is the multi-colored scalloped paint jobs with various hues of candy apple. At least a dozen cars were displayed in raw metal and you have to be brave to do that because, if you used body filler, your sins will show.

Don't know what color to paint your car? Hey you don't need color--raw metal looks just fine.

Don’t know what color to paint your car? Hey you don’t need color–raw metal looks just fine.

I saw one or two custom cars still floating on–what’s that white stuff–Angels Hair? There were a few that harkened back to the Sixties, elongated fins, plexiglass tops, bullet spinners, white button tufted interior, scallops but to tell you the truth I think they have lost their appeal. Unlike a car restored to stock, they represent an era when we knew less about cars than we know now.

I only saw one or two rat rods, unpainted, rust surfaced, Mexican blankets as seat covers, sort of Hot Rodus Interruptus, looking like restoration stopped once they got it running, maybe never to reach completion.

Some customs re built on marues  so obscure that it takes reading the sign to figure it out. This was a chopped top Kaiser Fraser.

Some customs re built on marues so obscure that it takes reading the sign to figure it out. This was a chopped top Kaiser Fraser.

The location of the LA County Fairgrounds brings over 500 cars on display, some even sent from foreign countries. I met a Swedish reporter and there were others from Europe where there’s small pockets of custom car builders.

Yes, this dragster had four, count 'em, four engines, and "TV Tommy" Ivo was there to talk to fans

Yes, this dragster had four, count ’em, four engines, and “TV Tommy” Ivo was there to talk to fans

I always remember Tom Wolfe’s book Kandy Kolored Tangerine Flake Steamlined Baby, where he discovered the custom car cult. Tom has passed on, otherwise I’d write him to tell him that the species of car worshipper he discovered and chronicled is still going strong, though I’d say they were mostly middle age.

No telling what the next generation will do when they inherit dad’s low rider…

We missed the beauty contest. This lady was bound for it, and the styles were Latino influenced as is the Pomona area.

We missed the beauty contest. This lady was bound for it, and the styles were Latino influenced as is the Pomona area.

Red hair was THE color.

Red hair was THE color.

A four door Linc convertible top is one of the great achievements of the American automobile industry so this owner showed it half deployed.

A four door Linc convertible top is one of the great achievements of the American automobile industry so this owner showed it half deployed.

Let us know what you think in the Comments.

Wallace Wyss

 
 
THE AUTHOR: Wallace Wyss is also a fine artist who will be exhibiting his art at Back to the Grind in Riverside, CA starting February 2020. For a preview of the art on display, and a list of art available write mendoart7@gmail.com.

 
 
 
 

Dying are the flamboyant customs of the Fifties. Their restylings, alas,  were not always enduring.

Dying are the flamboyant customs of the Fifties. Their restylings, alas, were not always enduring.

Tom Fritz

Tom Fritz was one of two artists depicting hot rods on canvas.

Jaguar E-type Lightweight

This E-type has the fastback narrow roof used on a few factory lightweights but we didn’t find out if this re-body was an original “lightweight” or a “”tribute” re-body. You’d never expect to see such a car at the Pomona Roadster show. That’s why it’s always worth going–you never know what to expect!

Bonneville streamliner

The NHRA Museum is part of the fair complex but you pay extra to see that. A few cars have backdrops such as this Bonneville streamliner.

All photos by Wallace Wyss.

Grand National Roadster Show Logo

Summary
The Grand National Roadster Show - 2020
Article Name
The Grand National Roadster Show - 2020
Description
The Grand National Roadster Show in Pomona was a wonderful event filled with all types of custom cars and car people.
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Comments

  1. SKIP HINOJOS says

    EXCUSE ME….ROADSTERS????

  2. wallace wyss says

    Hey Skip, lots of roadsters there..one won first place overall but I went there to see what was new and all the roadsters were something I;d seen before…..

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