Mus­cle Cars Crash the Grand Na­tional Road­ster Show

Muscle Car Review - - Con­tents - By Drew Hardin

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.

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