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Grand National Roadster Show champ is NOT a '32 Ford!

Mon, 27 Jan 2014

If you think arguing politics, religion or the cuteness of your grandchildren are divisive subjects, try arguing roadsters. Even the definition can get some people hyperventilating. What is a roadster, anyway? For the vast majority of hot rodders across the country (and for those 14 guys in Sweden) a roadster is and always will be a 1932 Ford coupe convertible body with no fenders powered by a flathead Ford V8. Rear tires have to be twice as big as the fronts to give it the proper stance, and flames, if done exactly as the observer/commenter likes, are appropriate, though not necessary. Chrome at will.

The Grand National Roadster Show is a celebration not just of roadsters but of the artform that roadsters have become. For its first 50 years or so the roadster show was held in Oakland, California, where God intended it to be. It moved around a little, then promoter John Buck bought it and moved it to Southern California, where it's been held for the last decade or so at the Fairplex in Pomona, just across the grounds from where the NHRA holds the Winternationals and what used to be called the Winston Finals drag races. But for almost all of those years the Roadster Show was a celebration of the Ford roadster. Some years, it seemed, there were nothing but 1932 Ford Roadsters entered. This year there were seven '32s among the 12 cars competing for the title of America's Most Beautiful Roadster, but there were also two Lakes Modifieds and three, yes, three… phaetons!


But get this: this year not only did a phaeton win, but it wasn't even a Ford phaeton, it was a 1935 Chevy!

GM megadealer Wes Rydell bought the car you see here 30 years ago. And he didn't decide what to do with it until halfway through those 30 years.

“I decided 15 years ago to make it into a hot rod,” said Rydell a few days before winning the most prestigious award hot rodding offers. “That's when I asked Chip (Foose) to make that drawing.”

In front of the car was a Foose drawing that looked almost exactly like the finished car. Now if you're planning to enter the AMBR competition you would do well to start with a drawing by Chip Foose. Foose cars have won this award more times than just about anybody else and having him onboard is a good step.

But the next thing you want to line up is a builder like Troy Trepanier of Rad Rides by Troy, which is exactly what Rydell did.

Trepanier figured the car was “25 percent done” when he got it and started working on it nine months ago. The last two and a half months the Rad Rides crew were working seven days a week 18 hours a day, something they didn't mind doing because Rydell was such a nice guy.

“When you have the owner take you aside and tell you he appreciates the effort, it really makes you want to go the extra mile for him,” Trepanier said.

And they went. While there was much to be admired about the rest of the field, the buzz pretty early on had the workmanship of the Rydell “Black Bow Tie” Chevy way out front.

Now let the discussions begin!

By Mark Vaughn