GRAND NATIONAL MODEL A DISPLAY
Historic Henrys fill Building 9 at the GNRS.
TRIBUTE. Most Deluxe readers are familiar with the Grand National Roadster Show and its iconic America’s Most Beautiful Roadster award. While the AMBR contenders usually get the most attention, for the last dozen years the GNRS has also devoted a hall to exhibits with a specific theme. This showwithin-a-show started in 2007 with the Deuce’s 75th Anniversary, undoubtedly a highlight in the show’s nearly seven-decade history. Many others have followed since, such as Customs Then and Now, Tribute to the Bonneville Salt Flats, and last year’s muscle car display. For 2019, Building No. 9 was solely devoted to 1928-1931 Ford automobiles, aka the Model A.
The unjudged exhibition, sponsored by C.W. Moss Ford Parts, was the brainstorm of Brian Bauer and Karpo Murkijanian, two individuals well-known in our scene. Brian has owned his streetdriven A roadster since the 1970s, a survivor that competed in the first NHRA Nationals at Great Bend, Kansas, in 1955, before setting numerous track records, including at Lions. Karpo has the same affinity for drag race history, having restored the Mondello & Matsubara Aa/fuel Altered Fiat Topolino with Pete Eastwood, as it looked 50 years ago.
Brian and Karpo worked up an extensive list of potential guests, which they combined to create the most impressive group of Model As ever assembled. The job wasn’t easy by any stretch, since they had to track down owners of some of their wish-list cars. Though they could not locate all of them, they didn’t have to worry about filling any empty spots considering their long waiting list. Ultimately, they had 107 spots available, and 107 cars showed up. The place oozed with hot rod history, from past AMBR winners to magazine cover cars. It was a sight to behold.
1. Entering the hall, visitors were greeted by a group of former AMBR champions. Many will recognize the Bill Niekamp blue roadster, which won the first competition in 1950. But who remembers its neighbor? Jerry Woodward built and still owns the Thunder Rod, which has not changed much since its AMBR victory in 1957, though he added the supercharger later.
2. Galpin Speed Shop displayed the Bill Likes ’29 roadster, also known as the Edelbrock Special. Bill worked as Edelbrock’s shop manager during the postwar years. Back in 1951, the dry-lakeprepped Model A on a ’32 frame posted a speed of 153 mph in the B class.
3. Drag racing enthusiasts associate Rich Guasco with the famous Pure Hell, a nasty roadster that he drove to many Fuel Altered victories during the 1960s. He also owns a piece of hot rodding history in the shape of this Model A, which he started driving at age 13 in the 1950s. It won the AMBR competition in 1961 and graced the covers of Speed Mechanics, Mar. 1958, and HRD, May 2013.
4. Next to Guasco’s roadster is John Corno’s AMBR winner, which Russ Meeks built with a tilt body (lengthened 4 inches) that covered a ’68 Olds Toronado V8. More alterations came in 1986, such as the hand-built stainless steel chassis. Oregon residents Roman and Judy Baszniak currently own the famous roadster.
5. Bill Grant impressed the crowd with his ’28 roadster, aka the Muroc Roadster, when he and builders Terry and David Stoker entered the 2017 AMBR field. To the surprise of many, it retains stock (but mega-detailed) mechanical brakes, together with a seriously hopped-up ’32 Model B engine. It now comes equipped with a vintage Miller overhead conversion and Zephyr intake manifold. The car’s full story was in our July 2017 issue (bit.ly/2y3spze).
6. Based on a ’29 roadster channeled 5 inches, Chuck Krikorian’s Emperor won the AMBR competition in 1960, with help from George Barris. Among the unique touches, note the nose piece by Barris Kustom and the 406ci ’57 Cadillac V8 with six carbs. The Gejeian family currently owns this piece of show-car history.
7. Building 9 housed a bunch of recently built hot rods taking cues from our scene’s early days. Take Rudi Hillebrand’s red ’31 coupe for instance. It runs a 268ci ’50 Ford flathead V8 fitted with Navarro heads and an Eddie Meyer Hollywood intake manifold. Next to it sits the mildly chopped coupe owned by Mike Herman of H&H fame, which gained some oomph courtesy of a Mcculloch supercharger.
8. Tom Lieb is the owner of Scat Enterprises, which has been specializing in aftermarket crankshafts for decades. He bought his well-known ’29 roadster in 1958. He had Pete Chapouris’ So-cal Speed Shop redo the car in 2007, featuring a cab stretched 3 inches, and entered the AMBR battle with help from Jimmy Shine in 2016. Motivation comes from a ’49 59AB flathead.
9. Burbank Choppers Car Club member Verne Hammond unearthed quite a survivor during one of his numerous visits to the Pomona Swap Meet, in the shape of the Ken Blackwell Street Jewel built in 1958-1959. Based on a ’29 roadster, it appeared among a few other cars on the cover of HOT ROD, Nov. 1961. The Oldspowered roadster was a cover car again in our Nov. 2014 issue (“Street Jewel Shines Again”; bit.ly/2jmwkpk).
10. Note the unusual front fender treatment on Rob Dehoney’s ’29 roadster. Rob belonged to a group of young fellas who hill climbed in San Francisco in the 1930s, and the car has remained in the same family since. Other uncommon characteristics include late ’30s Plymouth bumpers and grille, plus an Auburn windshield and dash.
11. The Tom Morris ’29 roadster was built in 1948, then raced at the dry lakes and dragstrips, before being parked in 1955. This jalopy is the real deal, with its ’48 Ford flathead, ’40 Ford trans, Tom Morris-made cast quick-change rear, and Crestliner steering wheel. Incidentally, it ran 110 mph at Bonneville in 1953 in the C Roadster class. Our cover story on the car, “Renaissance Man,” ran in the Nov. 2018 issue (bit.ly/2hgekx2).
12. Jay Dean of Nostalgia Ranch in California had two of his hot rods on exhibit at GNRS, a trophy-winning ’32 five-window coupe shown in the Suede Palace and this neat ’28 Model A painted ’32 Alfa Romeo Red. Sitting on a custom frame, the chopped and channeled roadster relies on a 365-horse 327ci GM engine.
13. Although it never appeared in the TV show, they call it the Dragnet Roadster because Jack Webb posed in the company of the vehicle, then owned by Tom Pollard, on a HOT ROD cover in 1955. Richard Loe is the current caretaker of the relic. It hasn’t changed much since its flamed 1968 repaint.
14. Longtime lake racer Jim Travis broke a couple of records at Bonneville with his ’29 roadster, specifically 124 mph in X/GR (1969) and 113 mph in X/STR (1970). And yes, the L.A. Roadsters club member still owns the car today, which he drove daily for years. The triple-carbed 297ci ’48 Merc engine received a Clay Smith cam. Behind it reside a ’39 Ford trans and a ’48 Ford rearend.
15. Billy Crewl became good friends with Jack Calori, who owned a distinctive Model A recognizable thanks to its twopiece windshield and upswept exhaust pipes. This relationship led Billy to create a tribute of the roadster in question, seen here. It uses a ’28 body bolted to a ’32 Ford chassis, a ’46 Merc motor, and a deep, owner-applied black paint job.
16. Clark Crump put his Model A coupe on exhibit in the Four Ever Four Cylinder Club booth. Bob Kehoe, a respected Bonneville 200 MPH Club member, owned the vehicle for years. He bought it as a stocker in 1998 before hopping up the fourbanger with an overhead conversion.
17. Many people had their eyes on James Bobowski’s ’29 roadster from New Jersey when he entered the 2018 AMBR competition. Originally built by the Ayala Brothers at Gil’s Auto Body in 1950, the now restored roadster did not win. Interestingly, it had already gained recognition in the 1950s, having raced at the Bonneville Nationals (1951) and having appeared in Hopup magazine (1952) as well as the movie Thelivelyset.
18. John Mumford has amassed an amazing collection of hot rods and customs over the years, such as Sam Barris’ ’49 Merc and the Ala Kart, seen in these pages as well. Add to the list this ’29 pickup with ’49 Cad V8 power, which was featured in HOT ROD, Apr. 1962, when the car was owned by David Dias. Great stance can be attributed in part to the frame being kicked up 5 ⁄
2 inches at the rear.
19. East Bay Speed & Custom beautifully handled the restoration of Mickey Himsl’s ’29 truck, which he has owned since the early 1960s. Some might even argue it’s better now, with additional chrome and details. It goes down the road courtesy of a 265ci ’48 Ford 59AB flathead mated to a ’39 Ford gearbox.
20. Jim Jacobs created quite a commotion when he brush-painted his ’28 phaeton with friends during a 1987 Goodguys event. The car then shared the cover of Rod&custom (Dec. 1988) with Pete Chapouris’ ’32 roadster known as Limefire. That red paint is still on the unrestored body today, though it has since been plastered with old cut-up HRM articles.
21. To put the Ala Kart into perspective, let’s just mention that AMT sold more than a million scale-model kits of the ’29-based truck. Winning the AMBR contest in 1958 and 1959 certainly helped put the vehicle on the map. Richard Peters collaborated with George Barris on this build, remembered for its futuristic appearance at the time, with ’57 Chrysler quad headlights molded into a custom nose. John Mumford is now the proud owner.
22. Bill Kenz’s Odd Rod, based on a ’31 truck, ran 140 mph at Bonneville in 1949. The July 1949 HOT ROD cover star consisted of two Model A frames welded together, plus two engines with two clutches connected with a custom driveshaft. Fellow Coloradan Mike Nicholas recreated this cool tribute.
23. Running 159 mph with a ’29 Model A at Bonneville was no easy feat in 1954, but that’s what the William Brothers did, thanks in part to a healthy 241ci Hemi V8. The roadster received plenty of attention from the media, too, including HOT ROD, which featured it in the Dec. 1954 issue. The car went into storage in 1956 and remained untouched for 50 years, until Tom Mcintyre saw fit to add the well-preserved roadster to his collection. The roadster is yet another HRD cover car, its tale told in “Common Ground,” Mar. 2018; bit.ly/2og7apc.
24. In January 1963, HOT ROD put a neat red ’29 Tudor on its cover, with owner Don Grant pulling the 265ci Corvette engine out. Don still drives it regularly 56 years later, although he has replaced the steel wheels and chrome caps with American Racing rims. The silver and black paint has been dressing the shell since 1972.
25. The Chrisman family had drag racing legend Jack Chrisman’s ’29 sedan on exhibit. He raced it in the 1950s, with a flathead V8 and a 331ci Chrysler Hemi, before selling it in 1956. In 1998, the family got it back after it was in storage for 32 years. Jim Travis, whose yellow roadster can be seen in this article, restored the Tudor beautifully.
26. The Lambrose/iacono team drag raced the ’29-based 99 Jr. from 1954 until 1957, using a derelict ex– dry lake roadster. Yet, unlike most builders who remained faithful to V8s at the time, they used a GMC six-cylinder fed by a 50/50 mix of alcohol and nitro, good for sub-11second e.t.’s at about 125-130 mph. Neil O’kane now owns and restored the roadster, which had only lost one race in three years of competition.
27. Tony Nancy has been known to produce topnotch drag cars, and his 22 Jr. is no exception. Weighing under 1,600 pounds, the ’29 roadster features a Kent Fuller chassis, mag wheels, and a supercharged Buick nailhead V8, netting 144 mph over the quartermile. Pennsylvania’s Ross Meyers has the Apr. 1960 HOT ROD cover car in his custody now.
28. Some visitors likely wondered what this ’32 coupe was doing in a sea of Model As. Well, look closely: This isn’t a Deuce but a ’31 coupe featuring more than 100 body alterations. It was parked next to a bone-stock Model A to display the work performed. Greg Zulim bought the vehicle in 1964 at age 14 and modified it over the years, including the installation of a ’58 Buick V8 with a 6-71 GMC blower.
29. “From Parade Wagon to Hot Rod in 4 Weeks” claimed a sign next to Scott Williams’ 1930 woody wagon from Minnesota. The treatment included a selection of traditional hot rod components, including a dropped axle, juice brakes, and Halibrand quick-change. The four-banger received a selection of cleverly picked period goodies as well, from the Weiand head and Cragar side cover to the Zephyr intake manifold and dual Strombergs.
30. Tom Leonardo displayed his ’29 Model A, originally built by John Athan in 1937 using a $7 roadster body and a $5.50 Deuce chassis. The car also participated in one of the last El Mirage races before WWII, where it ran 108 mph. Years later it appeared in the movie Loving You, driven by a young Elvis Presley.