Hemi-powered ’32 Ford is America’s Most Beautiful Roadster 2023

Brandan Gillogly

Each year, car builders from across the country make the pilgrimage to Pomona, California, for the Grand National Roadster Show. Each hopes to bring home the hardware recognizing them as winners of the prestigious America’s Most Beautiful Roadster (AMBR) award, given annually since 1950.

2023 AMBR 32 Ford Winner
Grand National Roadster Show/Kahn Media

The stellar field this year was all Ford, and the lineup included six 1932 roadsters. However, it was the immaculate detailing, gorgeous proportions, and flawless black paint of Jack Chisenhall’s ’32 roadster that stood out most. Chisenhall, of San Antonio, Texas, took home a check for $12,500 from Automotive Racing Products for his efforts. He will see his name on the AMBR trophy as both owner and builder alongside names like George Barris, Art Himsl, Boyd Coddington, and Chip Foose.

Finalists are selected and displayed in an array around the impressive trophy and a team of judges scrutinize every detail of the cars, including how it looks in motion.

Thom Taylor rendering of Jack Chisenhall's 1932 Ford roadster
Thom Taylor rendering of Jack Chisenhall’s 1932 Ford roadster. Brandan Gillogly

Chisenhall’s roadster was inspired by Dodge-powered Indy racers. The idea for this Deuce started forming in his mind more than 40 years ago. In 2000, Chisenhall had famed hot rod designer and Art Center alumnus Thom Taylor pen a rendering that put his idea on paper.

The car was ultimately built in Chisenhall’s San Antonio shop, with George Hagy serving as the principal fabricator. Chisenhall helped out with fab work. and—as is typical of builds of this magnitude—many other talented artists and technicians also had a share in the roadster’s success. The rows of perfect louvers on the hood sides were formed by Jimmy Shine. Mark Grohman was responsible for the mechanical work. Gary Gates machined many of the custom parts, including the brakes. The interior was finished by Sid Shavers (who has many award-winning builds on his resume) and the mirror-smooth black paint was the work of Darryl Hollenback, an AMBR award winner himself back in 2016.


AMBR 2023 Jack Chisenhall roadster
Brandan Gillogly

Powering the Deuce is a 355-cubic-inch early Dodge Hemi built by Donny Anderson and good for 420 hp at 5500 rpm. It features a heap of custom parts, including cast aluminum heads and one-off stack injection machined by Cody Chapman.

2023 AMBR winner Champ Coupe
Brandan Gillogly

The depth of quality among the eight other AMBR contenders, making up nine total finalists, gave judges a tough decision. The field ranged from racy and traditional to sleek and elegant. When you see these cars up close, it really demonstrates what it means to be judged among the cream of the crop. Congratulations to all of the builders and craftsmen who put such tremendous effort into these gorgeous machines. Long live the Deuce!

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    It is indeed a beautiful automobile. I’m sure the “keep a Ford in a Ford” crowd is cringing about the hemi, and especially when they see one of the finalists has a Chevy W motor in it, but I for one am glad to see that the spirit of hot rodding takes precedence here. True rodders accept that experimentation, adaptability, innovation, and “go-for-it” attitudes are large parts of the game. I never pooh-pooh folks who look at ways to build their cars in ways that make THEM happy, even if it means mixing-and-matching parts from disparate marques.
    Thanks for the article and photos, Brandan!

    Thank you! It’s hard to argue against an early Hemi in a ’32 Ford, they’re powerful and they look great!

    A engine that puts out over at least 350HP with rear tires that couldn’t handle 100HP. That’s NOT a Hotrod. All show and NO GO.

    HRM doesn’t have enough clout to ask the owner to raise the hood for a photo to be published on a national web site? It would have been nice to see the hemi, I bet the Judge’s did?

    Who makes aluminum heads for Dodge Hemis? The only aluminum heads I know for the first series of Chrysler are for the 331/354 engines – by Hot Heads.

    A set of heads were custom cast for this build, along with a one-off aluminum water pump that made room for a 19-inch clutch fan.

    dodge hemi? you do realize that dodge is a part of chrysler right, or do you. or maybe you think that the entire mopar lineup made their own version of the hemi

    if there is a Trophy for spending obsene Amouts of money on a Car the Government should send all of us A Trophy for the Taxes gained Have to admit its Beautiful

    Thanks for showing us these beautiful cars since we were unable to be there. Even one from my old hometown of Saginaw, Michigan (Jon Hall’s ’27 Roadster). Jon’s old metallic blue ’27 Roadster is still engraved in my mind, while I was growing up back there in the 60’s. Oh to be young again!

    Hi Buzz, we couldn’t get a clear shot through the louvers on the closed hood sides. We’ll try harder next time.

    A ’50s Hemi makes the best roadster motor, smooth, powerful and reliable. This one has some great additions, almost matching the early Indy 500 motor Chrysler built, along with the SOHC variant.

    Well, there have been so many “Most Beautiful Roadsters” (AMBRs) that we really can’t judge until we see, say, 20 of them, together. Otherwise, it’s just the most beautiful, at this meet, this year.
    And then, the Hemi thing… So where is the Hemi? Does it even have an engine? Why not show off the engine compartment? Your reporter/Editor could have made arrangements with the owner/display agent to open the bonnet and allow a picture or two of this amazing Hemi with the custom alloy heads. But… No. We get a picture that anyone could take, and no view of the most important feature of this lovely Duce.
    This award is for the most subtle of modifications to the basic ’32 Ford, and for many, well… They all look the same. Every AMBR has exceptional fit, detailing and finish, and some feature to set it apart; in this case, a Hemi. And here we have a picture, without the main feature. Sure, it is an incredibly beautiful rendering of a ’32. It certainly had the most money spent on it, and the best talent shaping metal and turning wrenches. But… Hemi? I wanted to see a Hemi in a ’32…

    Very easy. It’s done all the time where I live (NJ). I go to a car show and ask who did something I would like to have done to my ’40 Ford, and I get told “I dunno. I bought it this way.”

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