It’s that time of the year again! Summer has gone by much too quickly. Lucky for us, Goodguys Rod & Custom Association really takes care of our hot rodding needs in the form of one of the best hot rod shows of the year in California. This year’s annual event took us to Northern Cali to showcase the Goodguys 27th West Coast Nationals presented by Flowmaster.
It was three days of hot rod heaven at the Alameda County Fairgrounds located around the corner from the historical and beautiful downtown Pleasanton, California. Which is literally, the perfect place to hold an event of this caliber thanks to its old town feel.
The event at the fairgrounds started on Friday and lasted until the last car cruised out through the gates on Sunday evening. However, the West Coast Nationals event really kick starts on Monday with the 2013 Fred Zimmerman Memorial Hot Rod Week.
There’s a caravan of enthusiasts in their hot rods driving around the San Francisco Bay Area visiting different hot rod shops (Roy Brizzio Street Rods, New Metal Kustoms, Lazze Inc. metal shaping school, etc.), manufacturing facilities (Chassisworks, Flowmaster, etc.), car collections (California Automotive Museum, Blackhawk Automotive museum, private collection of Steve and Glenda Castelli, etc.), and other points of interest. “Hot Rod Week” goes through Thursday night, when the show kicks off with a party at the Pleasanton Hilton hotel.
This year definitely didn’t disappoint. The weather was great in the mornings with some cool air and the afternoon temperatures only reached the high 80s, absolute perfection, all weekend long.
Even though the event is named the West Coast Nationals, it attracts the best of the best pre-1972 hot rods, street rods, customs, and more from all across the continent. And what’s not to love about the smell of high octane fuel mixed with fresh corn dogs while checking out the coolest classics and custom cars in North America!
This is a great event for the whole family. There’s something to do for kids and adults… and even for the adults that are still kids! There’s more than cool cars at the West Coast Nationals, with vendors and manufacturers selling anything you need for your car and/or your stomach, live music, a model car contest and display, tether car racing, a mini-engine display, bicycle and Cushman displays, a Goodgals Arts & Crafts gallery, and more.
If you’ve never been to this event, then check out more to find out just what you’ve been missing and you’ll want to mark your calendars to attend next year.
Swap Meet Deals
Even with online auctions giving hot rodders more access to hard-to-find hot rod parts and knick-knacks then ever before, there’s still an abundance of cool and rare stuff to be found at the Goodguys swap meets. This year the swap meet was sponsored by Ahwooga.com.
There were plenty of cool and hard to find parts spread out for the right buyer. Some of the cool stuff that wanted to go home with us were the big block Hilborn injection setup, The twin supercharger kit, the set of oxidized spindle-mount American Racing mags, and the list goes on!
Cool Model Cars
The model car area was jamb packed with kid and adult builders and their rides. Looking over the tables, you can see the evidence of some serious talent. There weren’t just small scale models on display, there were also some cool pedal cars competing for the top spot.
Scale Engine Mania
The WEME mini-engine hall was outrageous as always. There were different types of small scale engines on display throughout the hall. These engines were not only exceptionally detailed replicas of full-size engines, but they were are also fully functional and running engines. If you hung out in the hall long enough you’d see some of the exhibitors turn on the fuel and fire these bad boys up.
Surprisingly enough, they sound pretty powerful for such small packages. There were scaled versions of more than just V-8s on hand. Everything from straight-four and six cylinders, V-6s, hemis, flatheads, radial aeronautical engines, and more.
The manufacturers and shops showing off their goods and services were on hand in full force and ready to lend a helping hand and answer any questions. With all the booths and cool display cars to soak in, the West Coast Nationals is best enjoyed as a two or three-day event. One day for the vendors and the extra days (as many as you can fit in) for the show cars!
As the title sponsor, Flowmaster had quite an impressive rig on hand and was able to help anyone seeking advice on their next project build. With everything from application and tech support to showcasing new products, there was no shortage of parts candy.
Cool Customs and Hot Rods
Of course besides all the cool peeps and great parts – this show is all about the HOT rides! Gathered throughout the shaded grass fields and overflowing the massive fairgrounds are some of the nation’s finest. Every shape and size, make and model, color and size could be found in attendance. No matter the tastes, styles, and favorite genre – there’s definitely something for everyone.
Rod Authority’s Top 5 Picks
The Goodguys team and Builder’s Choice awards can be found down below, and there are some really nice winners this year! We also picked our five favorite rides at the event and here they are in no particular order listed below:
Dylan Clark’s Daily Driven 1961 Ford F-100
Dylan’s 1961 F100 truck caught our eye when we walked past and noticed there wasn’t a traditional air cleaner perched upon a carburetor…or even a carburetor between the valve covers. Upon closer inspection we noticed there were in fact, two single-barrel side-draft Carter carburetors nestled down very low over the lifter valley pan.
When Dylan was ready to get a car, he originally wanted a Mustang. His grandfather still has a 1965 Ford truck he purchased brand new, so Dylan has had truck-influence in his blood for generations. When he saw this truck, he changed his mind and had to have this F-100. When he bought it, the 292 Y-block didn’t run well and he wasn’t fond of the 3-speed. The interior was gutted and Dylan shared “I’ve been building it since the day I brought it home almost 7 years ago.”
Dylan is a huge Y-block fan now. He found this unique induction system from a vintage Chris-Craft boat and decided it would make a great addition to his truck. After many headaches with the carburetors, he now has them sync’d and running great. Dylan drives this truck everyday without issue. The engine is still the original 292 and he installed some aluminum Thunderbird valve covers and tach-drive distributor. The transmission was upgraded to a 4-speed stick, so he can still row through the gears.
The truck is rolling on 18×8.5s Coys C5 wheels with 265 BFGs up front and 18x10s with 275 BFGs out back. Lowered with mono-leaf springs air shocks this hauler sees some milage towing a trailer as well. An extra cool touch, the ultra-rare dash cluster from a heavy duty F-600 truck which included an air pressure gauge, is the finishing touch and is plumbed to the rear air shocks.
Denny Olson’s 1934 Dodge Truck
Even though we cheated a little and went over to the winner’s circle to see what masterpieces the Goodguys selected to be award winners, we were glad to find this gem. It’s owned by Denny Olson of Enumclaw, Washington. Denny and his crew at Street Rods by Denny hit it out of the park with his highly modified ’34 Dodge pickup. This project took about 10 years to finish.
He told us that he drove this truck as a complete road-worthy vehicle on the day he purchased it and he said the ride was horrible. The very next day it was in a million pieces. Since Denny owns his own hot rod shop, his project suffered the typical back-burner-blues. For the next nine years it didn’t get full attention, that was until the last 12 months, when he started getting serious.
Denny liked the styling of the cab and front end, but he didn’t like the ugly box on the back. He said, “It just didn’t look right to me.” A wooden buck was built and Ryan Butler designed and built a bed out of sheetmetal. Denny wanted a bed that actually “worked” and flowed with the lines of the rest of the truck. During the design of the bed, it was decided to integrate it into the cab and follow its contours from every angle.
To keep the correct proportions, Denny chose to extend the hood, but didn’t chop the top. The cowl vent was filled and the top of the firewall was raised and extended to make room in the cabin and house some electronics. The hood side panels were windowed to show off the beautiful 392 Hemi. Denny wanted to use the “Imperial” stamped valve covers, so he custom stamped reliefs in them to clear adjustable rockers. The engine is backed by an overdrive transmission and is all bolted to an Art Morrison Chassis, which Denny says it’s now a blast to drive.
The great craftsmanship was apparent on every part of the truck. The beautiful wood bed cover was built by Denny’s brother Warren Olson, who restores Chris-Craft boats. The custom-built hinges were works of art as well (pictured above). Unfortunately Ryan Butler never got to see it completed as he was fatally injured when his hydroplane racing boat crashed back in 2011, which was shortly after finishing Denny’s truck bed. Being in the Winner’s Circle this year is a great tribute to Ryan’s craftsmanship.
Richard Brown’s 1932 Ford Roadster – Long Distance Driver
When you see a ’32 Ford roadster shining away at a Goodguys event in Pleasanton, CA with a Danville Dukes (a car club local to Pleasanton), you would never assume that Deuce would be a real driver all the way from Harrisburg, NC. Richard Brown was heading home after the event in the roadster. When we asked if he drove the roadster from North Carolina, Richard exclaimed, “I don’t even own a trailer!” We talked with him after he arrived home. This trip was a sightseeing journey that clocked 6,000 miles and he made many stops, including Bonneville. He said it’s a comfortable ride on his Glide Engineering bench seat. This is the third trip to the west coast since he rebuilt the car in 2003.
Richard purchased this beauty back in 1989 at Andy’s Picnic, back when he lived in San Jose, CA. In 2003, Richard took the car completely apart, sold the body to a friend, and purchased a New Age Motorsports ’32 roadster body. He boxed the original frame and added Pete and Jake’s four-bar front and ladder bar rear suspension. The rear axle is a Ford 9-inch with 3.00 gears and drum brakes. The front is a Posies transverse leaf with an RH Jones disc brake kit using ’88 Corvette rear calipers. The engine is a clean 330 HP 350 GM crate engine backed by a T5 manual transmission out of a Camaro.
The bug screen covering the grille was not just there for looks. It actually gets used. Although, the modified Speedway Engineering tank in the front is cool, that one is there just for looks. He changed the headlights to a set from a ’34 commercial truck.
Richard wanted a different look, so he had his custom billet Halibrand wheels powder coated dark bronze. The front wheels are 15x4s with little 145 series tires and the rears are 16x8s with tall sidewall for a nice rake. The look and stance definitely set it apart from the rest and caught our eye making this one of our top picks.
George and Elizabeth Fallon’s 1946 Chevrolet Truck
We found this sedate-looking 1946 Chevrolet truck to be more than meets the eye. At first, George and Elizabeth Fallon’s truck looked like a beautifully restored stock ’46.. Upon closer inspection, we noticed the Corvette brake calipers peeking through the factory-looking 17-inch wheels up front and 18-inch Artillery wheels by Wheel Smith out back.
Then we looked under the truck and found all C4 Corvette suspension on a modified Newman Car Creations chassis! The superbly-skilled team at Campbell Auto Restoration did an awesome job building this truck into the mild-mannered beast that you see here.
George has had this truck for over 10 years. When he first picked it up the Chevy was yellow with black fenders and powered by a dual-carbed 261 inline-6. At first, George just wanted a nice driver with an injected 292 6-cylinder and a 700R4. After searching for a good core and coming up short, he started looking for other options. One thing led to another and a 5.3L E-ROD and 4L65e engine and transmission combo was selected for motivation.
The interior is a mix of restored original parts along with 1958 Corvette knobs to operate the Vintage Air A/C, a modified 1957 Chevy ignition switch setup, and factory-appearing gauges from Classic Instruments in the stock dash. The leather is a Mercedez Benz Saddle and black Daytona weave carpet.
The bed’s sheetmetal was replaced because the cost of saving the original stuff outweighed the cost of new high-quality stampings. Miraculously, the original bed hardware was used and the wood in the bed was expertly finished by George himself. A fine example of function meets form with subtle mods done right.
Ray Simpson’s Blown 1941 Willy’s Gasser
This black all-steel ’41 Willy’s truck just screamed to us and by the end of the weekend it was wearing the “Hot Hauler” award. Owned by Ray Simpson, this ’41 was brought out from Whitefish, Montana to show on the West Coast where Gassers got their start. Besides the awesome black paint and matching stance, who wouldn’t be drawn to the Weiand 6-71 blower sitting atop the 355 small-black.
The suspension was just the right mix of chrome parts and hardware mixed with dripping black paint. The Speedway Engineering straight axle up front on leaf springs, Winters quick-change rearend out back, and Halibrand Sprint wheels wrapped in big pie-crust slicks and little front-runners finished out the gasser look perfectly.
The interior is all business; refurbished factory gauges, chrome aftermarket tach up top and triple-gauge panel under the dash, old-school chrome 3-spoke Grant steering wheel, low-back bucket seats, and for driver protection it’s sporting a vintage-style 3-point roll bar. Ray says that it’s a rough ride on the street, especially on California asphalt, but it’s still a blast to drive!
The Top Honors
America’s Most Beautiful Street Rod – Winner:
- Harold Chapman of Andice, TX 1933 Ford
America’s Most Beautiful Street Rod – Finalists:
Ron Clark of Bennington, NE 1940 Ford
- George Sepulveda of Lake Havasu, AZ 1938 Ford
- Caryn Gulas of Austn, TX 1937 Ford
- Denny Olson of Enumclaw, WA 1934 Dodge P/U
Gary Meadors & Sam Foose Builder’s Choice Awards:
- Frank & Mary Lawrence of Bakersfield, CA 1948 Chevy P/U
- Dean & Lisa Massey of Turlock, CA 1937 Ford P/U
- Dan Sobieski of LaMirada, CA 1932 Ford
- Jerry Kennedy of Campbell, CA 1937 Ford
- Brent Scheider of Pleasanton, CA 1937 Ford
- Gary Matranga of Sacramento, CA 1939 Ford
- George Poteet of Memphis, TN 1934 Ford
- Ron Crawford of Sonoma, CA 1926 Ford
- Jack Ketlinski of Meridian, ID 1947 Cadillac
- John & Sandy Wulff of Stockton, CA 1956 Nomad
- Chevy Truck Pick – Rick Brand of Stockton, CA 1968 Chevy P/U
- Best Ride on American Racing Wheels – Victor Berri of Pleasanton, CA 1941 Willys
- Billet Specialties Best Ride on Billet – Fred Schirmer of Brentwood, CA 1932 Ford
- Best Ride on BFG’s John & Sandy Wulff of Stockton, CA 1956 Nomad
- Bill Burnham Memorial Ken Robesky of Mt View, CA 1929 Ford
- Bruce Olson Memorial – Fred Walke of Livermore, CA 1932 Ford
- Chopped and Dropped – Mark Willis of Grants Pass, OR 1932 Ford
- Coker Tire Best Wide Whites – Greg Hughes of Eugene, OR 1949 Plymouth
- Cool Convert – Norman Stout of Pismo Beach, CA 1947 Cadillac
- Flowmaster American Thunder – John & Shiela Emacio of Chattroy, WA 1956 Nomad
- Goodguys Pick – Dennis Varni of Monte Serano, CA 1933 Ford
- Goodguys Staff Pick – Ken & Cheryl Brooks of Angels Camp, CA 1956 Nomad
- Lokar One Fine Deuce – Dennis Devol of Stockton, CA 1932 Ford
- Meguiar’s Magnificent Masterpiece – Steve Head of Columbia, MO 1969 Nova
- Meguiar’s Magnificent Masterpiece – John Gilham of Santa Cruz, CA 1969 Nova
- Stroker McGurk Award – Robert McCarter of Harrisburg, NC 1932 Ford
Check out our extensive coverage in the GALLERY below: