Muscle Cars Crash the Grand National Roadster Show
Muscle cars crash the Grand National Roadster Show
The Grand National Roadster Show (GNRS) has a nearly sevendecade legacy as the pioneering hot rod and custom car show on the West Coast. Known in its early years as the Oakland Roadster Show for its location in the city on the east side of San Francisco Bay, the show’s trademark is the 9-foot-tall perpetual trophy it awards each year to “America’s Most Beautiful Roadster.”
This award aside, the show has gone through quite a few changes over the years. It moved south to the Fairplex in Pomona (adjacent to the NHRA’s dragstrip) in the early 2000s, and has expanded its invitation list beyond hot rods and customs to keep the show fresh and attract a wider audience. Muscle cars have taken part in previous years, but the few on hand were, for the most part, highly modified and customized.
This year was different. The Fairplex’s Building 9 was filled with 106 significant muscle cars, all of them original, restored to original, or fitted with period-correct and day-two upgrades. Our kinds of cars, in other words.
The display was curated by Alex “Axle” Idzardi, well known in the SoCal car hobby for his role in renewing interest in traditional hot rods back at the confluence of rodding and rockabilly music 20 or so years ago. He’s still active in the culture as a DJ and car show promoter. Among his gigs is gathering the cars that make up the Suede Palace, a hall at GNRS named for the primered rods and customs shown there.
It turns out that, before he was into hot rods, Idzardi was a muscle car guy. He told us he and his parents founded the Inland Empire GTO Club back in the mid 1980s. In those days he tooled around in a Tri-power 1966 GTO he bought for $300. He has long wanted to put together a muscle car display at GNRS, and finally convinced the show’s organizers that a room full of factory-correct 1960s and 1970s cars would be a good idea.
Idzardi spent much of 2017 traveling the country seeking out cars, many of them award winners at Good Guys shows. His cross-country efforts were reflected in the far-flung states listed in the car’s window cards: Minnesota, Georgia, Tennessee, Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado, and Washington, to name a few.
“It’s a dream come true for me,” Idzardi said, surveying a room that he wanted to feel “like a 1960’s dealership.” That would be some dealership. No fewer than six Mopar wing cars, four Boss 429s, and several LS6 Chevelles were on display.
Sadly, though, it was a one-time deal. “It’ll never happen again,” he admitted. Next year Building 9 will be full of Model A Fords, marking the popular car’s 90th anniversary. So here’s a look at one of the best multi-make indoor muscle car shows we have seen in California, and will ever see at GNRS.