Rare Car Network

Rare Car Network
Unique Classics, Replicas and Build Culture
						2015 Grand National Roadster Show 1

By Larry Weiner and Steve Temple

Photos by Larry Warner and Steve Temple

When it comes to top-notch car events, the GNRS is truly in a class of its own. Well known by its moniker, “The Grand Daddy of Them All,” 2015 marked this show’s 66###sup/sup### consecutive year. Prestige has surrounded this show since it first began in 1950, and the chance to win the America’s Most Beautiful Roadster (AMBR) competition attracts the best builders from all over the world who compete for this coveted award.

This year saw a record 18 cars competing for the AMBR prize, an amazing number of vehicles, especially when you realize the incredibly demanding standards needed to win. As we walked through Building 4 at the Pomona, CA Fairplex, where the AMBR contestants are displayed, it was obvious that everything about the show had increased. From more cars in every class, to increased vendor participation both inside and out, this event was simply bigger and better than ever.

One clarification is needed: even though the name Grand National Roadster Show might lead some people to assume that it is just for roadsters, nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, the GNRS has a proud history that celebrates not only roadsters, but street rods, race cars, customs, muscle cars, low riders, rat rods and even unique motorcycles. In short, the GNRS is an event that appeals to nearly all kinds of car builders and auto enthusiasts. 

Walking through each of the nine large buildings at the Fairplex revealed an amazing variety of vehicles on display. One of the trends gaining in popularity is the gasser movement. Gassers were everywhere at the GNRS this year, from prewar Willys coupes to shoebox Chevys, along with a random smattering of other makes. All had been converted to straight axles with nosebleed stances and fiberglass flip noses. The recent boom in the popularity of these Sixties throwbacks is nothing short of overwhelming, so we expect that many more are being built right now.

Another really strong trend in evidence this year at the GNRS was the extensive use of vintage Hemi engines in a wide range of vehicles. While the Hemi has long been a staple among hardcore rodders and racers, its presence as the engine of choice for street rods continues to grow. They may be big and heavy, but let’s face it, there’s nothing more impressive than a Hemi under the hood (and even more so with no hood to cover it up!). As an example, Larry Olson’s traditional full-fendered black and flamed 1933 Ford won the AMBR Award. Built by the talented Bobby Alloway, the choice of motive power for the winner was a fully dressed early Dodge Red Ram Hemi. And the AMBR winner was only the beginning of Hemi-powered cars on the show floor. There were lots of wicked Willys gassers powered by blown and injected Hemi engines, along with dozens of street rods and muscle cars dotting the show floor in each building, many of which sported valve covers with the famous Chrysler Fire Power script.

Yet another trend that is gaining popularity at the GNRS, along with some of the other leading shows, is the presentation of high-end cars under construction. Even though not finished, they provide an excellent behind the scenes showcase of the workmanship that goes into these vehicles. Car builders can catch a glimpse of what these cars look like prior to completion, and perhaps glean a few tech tips. 

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