As with any beauty contest, there are differing opinions on the selection of Kevin & Karen Alstott's 1935 Ford as America's Most Beautiful Roadster. The Ridler Award winner was not my first choice, either. But then again, I preferred Betty over Veronica, Mary Ann over Ginger, Jan over Marcia and Janet over Chrissy, so what do I know? Perhaps Autoblog readers would like to view the leading contenders and make their own selection.
My favorite was Dennis DeCamp's '32 roadster (shown) with its Jon Barrett-built alloy 427 Ford engine and hand-formed aluminum body by Marcel. Gabe's Custom Interiors did the stitching and Speed Shop squirted the paint. Barry's Speed Shop handled all the construction. Nicknamed F-32, the car features a unique push-rod suspension front and rear that locates the shocks inboard, ala Indy Car. There's also a Ferrari influence with the hood scoop, nifty tear-drop exhaust outlets and a clever sprint-car cue with the push-bar license-plate frame. In my humble opinion, this '32 says a lot about innovation, performance, craftsmanship and just plain hot-rodding. I'm an engine guy, and little details -- like the cantilevered engine mounts and the headers that seamlessly morph from square port to round tube -- are impressive.
Following the jump are brief capsules on nine other contenders. There's also a link to a gallery with more than 70 photos of the 10 vehicles that didn't win. Don't forget to check out the winner again and make your own choice.
Talk about size matters, "Extreme Thunder" is owned by Steve Barton and features a 1200-horsepower DOHC engine that measures out to 904 cubic inches! That's right: 4.9-inch bore crossed with a 6-inch stroke. You do the math. Joe Schubeck is the engine builder. Other highpoints of this car include a Body Coddington chassis, Marcel Delay handbuilt steel body, Charley Hutton paint and interior by Armondo's Rod & Custom. Jordan Quintal built the car.
Working out of his own shop, Jesse Greening handled the chassis, body and machine work in addition to the construction of this '32 Ford. He did have to farm out the chrome plating, and the interior went to Paul Atkins. Sorry to be so brief, but there wasn't much more information at the display. One factor I always consider when looking over a show car is this: Does it look like it could make a week-long rod run? No problem for Jesse's creation.
Troy Ladd's '32 is old school and I love every inch every choice he made, especially the old Hemi. Troy is from Hollywood Hot Rods, and you can see the early stages of this car on the opening page of his Web site.
I'm sorry that I don't have more details on some of the vehicles. Bill Freni's '32 certainly deserves attention if not for the brilliant color and the stylish traditional engine with its 6-pack of Strombergs and ram's head exhaust. This may not be AMBR, but it's the roadster I'd most like to drive to cruise night at Ricky and Ronnie's. I love white interiors!
This is John Lawson's '32. Unfortunately it was on a turntable that was spinning faster than the slow shutter speed required for the low-light levels indoors. But it appears to have a healthy Rat motor, super-straight body and stylish interior. Nice job!
Talk about getting light. Ashley Marie Webb's '32 roadster lost the fenders, running boards and tail end. Built for speed, it's motivated by a high-revving 4-cylinder (I'm not up on 4-bangers but it looks like a Cosworth). I can see this roadster churning salt at Bonneville.
Built by Barry's Speed Shop, this '35 Chevy is owned by Carl Sprague. The orange paint was applied by Speed Shop Custom Paint and Gabe's finished the interior. You can't see it in the photo, but there is a transplanted Corvette dash and booming sound system.
Don't pass this one by before checking out the trunk. Jerry Kugel didn't brag much about his '32 in the display. Everyone knows his contributions to the industry. Kugel did, however, point out that he drove his roadster to the show and he'll drive it home. No trailer queen here. In a show world where some vehicles probably don't even have 90-weight in the pumpkin, Kugel's genius is self-evident, especially when you spot the Olds drivetrain in place of the rumble seat. Other hot rods have been built using a FWD engine-tranny in the rear. I've seen a few Northstar combos. But this is certainly one of the cleanest applications ever shown.
Former Top Fuel pilot Bruce Cohn purchased seven different Willys from an Australian contact 18 years ago. Here's the last one found in deep in the Red Desert. It was built by Ron Attebury and Matt Dowd. Jack Hagemann and Jim Hendrix stretched the steel body six inches while Trent Jones suited up in the paint booth. Power comes from a Chevy 502 big block. Very nice.
You can see more photos of all these vehicles in the AMBR-contenders gallery. Take a look one more time at the winner for a comparison.