The assignment came in, “can you go to GNRS and pick your top-five Chevys?” That was a simple enough assignment, how can someone not want to do this, right? It seemed easy enough, and you know there’s going to be some killer Bow Ties at the event. What’s more, you get to enjoy the festivities of the longest-running indoor car show in the world, now in its 70th year. For the 16th consecutive year, the Grand National Roadster Show – once known as the Oakland Roadster Show – was at the Pomona Fairplex this past January, and it was spectacular.
This is the event that hosts some high-dollar builds, some home builds, and everything in between. It’s also the show where the coveted America’s Most Beautiful Roadster (AMBR) award is awarded. There were a slew of heavy hitters this year, all excellent examples of the craftsmanship from some of the best builders in the country. Over 500 show vehicles graced the indoor area, and outside showcased another several hundred vehicles.
The task at hand – choosing the Top-5 picks – was a ‘challenge-accepted’ opportunity that quickly turned into a ‘what-have-I-done?’ dilemma, because the cars were just that good.
The first thought was, ‘how about a first pick and a seven-way tie for second pick?’ But that wasn’t going to fly; do your job was the mantra, and with that as the driving force, the challenge needed to be met head-on. It’s a tough job, but somebody has to do it. So, without any further ado, we bring you our favorites from the 2019 Grand National Roadster Show.
Favorite C10 Truck
Vehicle: 1980 C10
Owner: Ed Borges
Home town: Rancho Cucamonga, California
Engine: 350ci, 400 horsepower, FiTech EFI
Why we like it: Ed’s C10 wasn’t our choice because it was over the top, we chose it because it’s simple and clean. The Toxic Orange finish and the Gold Haze highlights throughout were a great combination and done very tastefully.
The PPG Mango Tango Toxic Orange was applied by PSI Autobody in Ontario, California, and it was indeed toxic. Coming around the corner and seeing this truck, well, one look was all it took and it was a favorite.
Our Runner Up: 1964 C10, Darin Smith from DWS Classics, Huntington Beach.
Vehicle: 1967 Corvette
Owner: Larry Landrith
Home town: El Dorado Hills, California
Engine: 427ci LS7, 505 horsepower, Dry-sump oil system
Sponsor components: Tremec TKO 600 five-speed transmission
Why we like it: If the color of this Corvette Stingray isn’t enough to draw you in, it’s probably going to be the fact that it’s running a full C7 Corvette suspension and brakes, with coilovers.
Walking up to Larry’s Corvette, we were drawn in because, if you know Corvettes from the 1960s, then you know the stance on this one isn’t stock. The custom wheels weren’t the only thing that made it suspicious. It gave the notion that there was some serious brawn to this classic.
Our Runner Up: 1957 Corvette, Rhonda Ralph from Portland, Oregon.
Vehicle: 1971 Camaro Z28
Owner: Stephen Aguilar
Home town: Fullerton, California
Engine: LSX 454/Mast LS7 Black Label Heads
Why we like it: There wasn’t a square inch that didn’t look like it’s been finely modified. The car is called “Infrared” and it has earned it. The entire execution of this build was spot-on and added some class to an otherwise typical muscle car.
The interior was completed by Gabe’s Custom Interiors, and if you’ve been around the show car world, you know his work is some of the best. The interior caught our eye because of all the custom touches; the billet switches, the trick wiring harness/fuse block under the rear seat, and the gauges.
Our Runner Up: 1969 Camaro, Ray Ziglari from Upland, California.
Vehicle: 1969 Chevelle
Owner: Mitch Kelly
Home town: Garden Grove, California
Engine: Pace Performance 525ci LS, 600 horsepower, FiTech EFI
Why we like it: There were a lot of Chevelles at the show, and most all of them were unique for one reason or another. But this one from Kelly and Sons was over-the-top spectacular. The dark-red finish was actually a very well done fade, and the custom touches throughout were done extremely well.
This Chevelle looked like it could be part trailer queen, and part hard-core driver. While the paint and interior were that of a career show car, you couldn’t help but notice how many performance cues were there. The brake/clutch reservoirs on the firewall, the huge brake rotors, the 600 horsepower, Tremec transmission, and the Currie-built rearend – all connected by a carbon-fiber driveshaft from QA1. This Chevelle would be fun at an autocross . . . or even the Silver State Challenge?
Our Runner Up: No explanation necessary – build in progress
Best El Camino
Vehicle: 1970 El Camino
Owner: Scott Cooper
Home town: Orland, California
Engine: 572ci BBC, Hilborn EFI
Sponsor components: Tremec six-speed transmission, Wilwood Brakes, Art Morrison Chassis
Why we like it: It’s dark and mysterious, and packs one helluva punch. This was a difficult vehicle to shoot because of the color . . . it looks black, but it’s really a dark, chocolate brown. Scott didn’t list the actual color, but with the way everything went together, it was too good to pass up.
We had so many others we wanted to put on this list, but the instructions weren’t to pick one and then seven that tied for second. We’ve put together the gallery below with many others that were very deserving of a spot on the list.