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The Grand National Roadster Show (GNRS) in its 67th year

Once known as the Oakland Roadster Show, the Grand National Roadster Show is the longest running indoor car show in the world!  Now in its 13th consecutive year in year 2016 at the Fairplex in Pomona, CA. The biggest prize at the show is AMBR.

In Building 4 were 13 roadsters that literally took your breath away with their design and beauty. They were the competitors for the prestigious America’s Most Beautiful Roadster, a 9-½ foot high trophy that many have sought over the years and only a few have attained.

The list of builders and owners are legendary and the amounts of money, time and talent go beyond what the average hot rodder is capable of doing. Yet sometimes for the average car guy it is hard to judge a beauty contest since all the entrants are “winners” in their own right. The judges have to look everywhere to spot a flaw in the most unobservable locations in order to come up with the winning entry.

’32 Ford

’32 Ford
Winner, Darryl Hollenbeck’s ’32 Ford from Concord, CA., a strange but alluring creamy green colored roadster that had that comfortable, old soft shoe feel.
’31 Ford pickup
Ron Simm’s “Salt Scorpion” ’31 Ford pickup.

Sunday evening, the last day of this three-day event, brings the award and crowning of America’s Most Beautiful Roadster. Last year in 2015 Larry Olson took home the honors with his black and very flamed 1933 Ford roadster built at Alloway’s Hot Rod Shop. Many knowledgeable show goers were picking their favorites. Undoubtedly many of them had Darryl Hollenbeck as the winner this year.

You could see the camps aligning all weekend with many thinking the Tom Lieb 1929 Ford highboy roadster was the favorite, while others had the notion it would be another roadster as the frontrunner.

Other top picks included Chris Evans and his powder blue (BLUBYU: read carefully!) 1931 Ford roadster; yet others were enamored by James Hetfield’s rarely seen 1934 Packard roadster. This was a stellar field of 13 that caused the judges to take a long look, and then a second and third and it still wasn’t an easy decision, but everyone knew one hot rodder was going home very happy.

Lush powder-blue 1931 Ford
Chris Evans from Scottsdale, AZ, with a lush powder-blue 1931 Ford.
’31 Ford
The Stirnemann Bros. brought a blue ’31 Ford.
’32 Ford
“American Ice”, Gary Matranga’s clean ’32 Ford.
’32 Ford roadster pickup
Westley Rawlins, from Charlotte, NC, showcased a ’32 Ford roadster pickup.
1934 Packard roadster
James Hetfield’s 1934 Packard roadster.
 ’32 Ford
Dean and Tammy Scott’s ’32 Ford from Grass Valley, CA.
 ’36 Ford
Jeff Romig’s “Long Beach Legend” stretched ’36 Ford.
1932 Ford (Muroc)
Maureen Magnuson’s Chip Foose-built 1932 Ford (Muroc) from Ventura, CA.
’33 Ford
Phillip Ray’s “Nugget” light gold ’33 Ford from Montara, CA.
The larger than life AMBR trophy.
The larger than life AMBR trophy.
All black ’36 Ford.
Jon Wright’s “Tribute” all black ’36 Ford.
blue 1929 Ford highboy
Tom Lieb’s blue 1929 Ford highboy from Redondo Beach, CA.

The Year 2016’s Entrants

James Hetfield presented his silver-toned ’34 Packard with a detachable hardtop; Gary Matranga’s AMERICAN ICE ’32 Ford with a 401 c.i. Hemi; Tom Lieb’s all black AV8 ’29 Ford; Darryl Hollenbeck’s traditional looking ’32 Ford with a cloth top; Chris Evans’ BLUE BAYOU ’31 Ford Model-A; Maureen Magnuson’s ’32 Ford; Jon Wright’s TRIBUTE all black custom chrome ’36 Ford flattie with white sidewalls; Phillip Ray’s NUGGET light gold ’33 Ford with a modern roadster look; Dean and Tammy Scott’s ’32 Ford; Jack Stirnemann’s blue ’31 Ford with a cloth top and gold rims; and Ron Simm’s THE SALT SCORPION ’31 Ford pickup with a cloth top that ran at the Bonneville Salt Flats in 1957.

Editor’s Note: A version of this article first appeared in the May 2016 print issue of the Drive Magazine.