15 gorgeous machines from 2018 America’s Most Beautiful Roadster competition

David Martin's '31 Ford Model A with a 401-cu-in small-block

The Grand National Roadster Show brings hundreds of cars and thousands of spectators to the Pomona Fairplex each January to kick off a new year of custom car shows. The big draw for the 69th annual show, as for many before it, was the shootout for America’s Most Beautiful Roadster.

This year brought the largest field of competitors ever assembled for an AMBR contest, as 15 entrants arrived and were judged before the show opened to the public on Friday. The ballots were kept secret until Sunday afternoon, when the coveted trophy was awarded, along with a check for $10,000

The winner

David Martin's '31 Ford Model A
David Martin's '31 Ford Model A rear 3/4

David Martin competed in the Silver State Classic Challenge when his ’31 Model A was still in bare metal, running the 100-mile course with an average speed of 101 mph. Since then, the crew at Hot Rods & Hobbies in Signal Hill, California, prepped the custom massaged bodywork and sweated every detail. Under the hood is a 401-cubic-inch Chevy small-block built by Ed Pink Racing using a Brodix aluminum block and Edelbrock heads. The engine is fed by Borla eight-stack injection and capped with polished headers by Rodela Fabrication that exit the hood sides before flowing into the frame and under the car.

The contenders

Long-time Bonneville Speed Week racer Pete Aardema is known for the wild engines he puts in his race cars. His ’34 Ford and AMBR entrant follows that vein with a big-block Chevy V-8 that uses Porsche 928 cylinder heads, resulting in 440 cubic inches and 420 horsepower at the wheels. A C5 Corvette torque tube connects to a rear-mounted T-56 manual transmission and narrowed independent rear suspension underneath a widened body.

Pete Aardema's ’34 Ford
Aardema Porsche Chevrolet

Chris and Robyn Parmelee’s ’36 Ford is powered by an LS1/4L60E combo and was painted by Chris himself. Ron Mangus Hot Rod Interiors completed the upholstery. Ron’s handiwork could be seen in a number of AMBR contenders.

Chris & Robyn Parmelee’s ’36 Ford
Chris & Robyn Parmelee’s ’36 Ford
Brandan Gillogly

John and Pat Miller’s “Deuce One” highboy was built by Adams Hot Rod Shop and is powered by a 420-hp small-block Chevy.

John and Pat Miller’s “Deuce One” highboy
John and Pat Miller’s “Deuce One” highboy
Brandan Gillogly

The Stinger ’32 Ford by Sean Black features bodywork by Adams Hot Rod Shop and is a bit of an homage to the ’63 Corvette Sting Ray. Both the 365-hp 327-cu-in V-8 and the Daytona Blue PPG paint are were Corvette options for ’63.

365-hp 327-cu-in V-8 in The Stinger ’32 Ford
The Stinger ’32 Ford

The Eddie Dye Model A track-nose roadster, which graced the cover of Hop Up magazine in March 1952, is now owned by James Bobowski. It was recently restored by the crew at Circle City Hot Rods in Orange, California.

Eddie Dye's Model A track-nose roadster
Model A track-nose roadster profile

Bruce Meyer is the current caretaker for the Nickel Roadster, an original ’32 body built by Buffalo Motorcars in Paramount, California. Numerous hot rod legends lent their talents including Ron Covell, Pete Eastwood, and the late Dan Gurney.

The Nickel Roadster front 3/4
The Nickel Roadster

Bill Nash’s 1930 Model A highboy is powered by a 383-cu-in Chevy small-block and features custom touches including integrated windshield stanchions and rear-mounted fuel tank to match the dropped ’32 grille shell. The built was completed by Precision Street Rods & Machines in Northridge, California.

Bill Nash’s 1930 Model A highboy
Bill Nash’s 1930 Model A highboy profile

Alan Johnson’s ’32 uses in interesting engine. That’s not an early Hemi in there, it’s a 4.6-liter Cadillac Northstar V-8. Alan builds parts to mount the DOHC V-8s, which were normally used in FWD applications, longitudinally.

Alan Johnson’s ’32
Alan Johnson’s ’32
Brandan Gillogly

John Leonti’s “il Dolce” was pieced together by John over a four-year period, starting with individual exterior body panel stampings. A solid-roller 355-cu-in Chevy small-block is good for 460 hp.

John Leonti’s “il Dolce”
John Leonti’s “il Dolce”
Brandan Gillogly

The Elrod Roadster began as a ’36 Ford that went under the knife at Boesch Auto Body in Humphery, Nebraska, where it was shortened three inches behind the doors and another three inches behind the deck lid. Power comes from a 392-cu-in Chrysler Hemi mated to a Bowler 200-4R automatic.

The Elrod Roadster began as a ’36 Ford
The Elrod Roadster has a 392-cu-in Chrysler Hemi mated to a Bowler 200-4R automatic.

Scott Helliesen’s “Little Red” 1932 Ford was built by Helliesen along with Jason Anagnostis. A tribute to the McGee roadster, it’s powered by a ’46 Ford Flathead V-8 and a five-speed manual from a Chevy S10.

Scott Helliesen’s “Little Red” ’32 Ford.
Scott Helliesen’s “Little Red” ’32 Ford front 3/4

“Shangri-La” is Rick Dore’s latest coachbuilt creation, hammered out of aluminum by Luc Delay of Marcel’s Custom Metal. It rides on an Art Morrison chassis with independent front suspension and is powered by a Chevy 350-cu-in V-8 and 700-R4 transmission.

“Shangri-La” is Rick Dore’s latest coachbuilt creation profile
“Shangri-La” is Rick Dore’s latest coachbuilt creation front 3/4

Dan Hostetter took a sketch from a 1955 issue of Rod & Custom by Joe Henning and brought it to life. Built over seven years, the home-built project tackled the problems that were glossed over in the sketch’s unrealistic proportions and made the real version of the car drivable and wide enough for two people.

Dan Hostetter's Roadster
Dan Hostetter's Roadster
Brandan Gillogly

This gorgeous silver-blue deuce highboy belongs to Ryan Earhart and was built by Cruiser’s Customs in Braunfels, Texas. The late ’50s traditional-style build is powered by a 350-cu-in Chevy crate engine from Edelbrock dressed in finned aluminum valve covers, Cadillac-style air cleaner, and the same cream-colored paint used on the firewall.

Ryan Earhart's silver-blue deuce highboy
Ryan Earhart's silver-blue deuce highboy
Brandan Gillogly