Picking The Best Of The Best At The 73rd Annual Grand National Roadster Show


Picking The Best Of The Best At The 73rd Annual Grand National Roadster Show


The 73rd annual O’Reilly Auto Parts Grand National Roadster Show (GNRS) has wrapped and as it has for decades, delivered everything a hot-rodder could want. There were hundreds of top tier cars and trucks including customs, classic rods, muscle cars, vintage trucks and everything in between on display, vying for awards. The GNRS is, after all, the longest-running indoor car show in the world, and it continues to deliver the goods!

The main focus of the weekend involve two coveted awards, both presented by ARP Fasteners: the America’s Most Beautiful Roadster (AMBR) Award and the Al Slonaker Memorial Award. The AMBR is awarded to 1937 and older U.S.-made production-based roadsters, roadster pickup trucks, Phaetons and touring vehicles. Effectively, it can't have roll-up side windows. These vehicles must make their debut at the Grand National Roadster Show - that means no display of the vehicle is allowed except unfinished parts in a manner to highlight those involved in the construction of the build, and there is to be no coverage (print, digital, or other means) of the finished vehicle. Contenders must start, stop, steer and move under their own power to be considered. The Al Slonaker Memorial Award, named after the founder of the Grand National Roadster Show, is open to all non-roadster vehicles at the show provided they met the same criteria otherwise. Both awards include a prize of $12,500 each plus the winner’s name is added to a huge, perpetual trophy. The AMBR has been presented since the show’s debut in 1950, while the Al Slonaker award has been presented since 1974.

America's Most Beautiful Roadster

2023 AMBR Winner

Jack Chisenhall’s "Champ Deuce" 1932 Ford earned the 2023 America’s Most Beautiful Roadster honors. The field was full of stiff competition, including builds from Rad Rides by Troy, JF Customs, Kugel Komponents and other topline builders.

There were nine vehicles in the running for the AMBR title including: Sandy Chadd’s ’32 by Rad Rides by Troy, Jack Chisenhall’s ’32, Jon Hall’s ’27 Ford by Shadow Ros, Danny Hyde’s owner built ’36 Ford, Joe Kugel of Kugel Komponents ’32, JF Kustom’s ’29 Ford, Ken Sapper’s ’32 by Dominator Motorsports, Steve Schmidts’ ’32 by Kugel’s and one more ’32 owned by Scott William’s and built by Swillco Speedshop.

Al Slonaker Memorial Award

2023 GNRS Slonaker Winner

The X-60 Buick Invicta Custom built by CAL Automotive Creations was awarded the Al Slonaker Memorial Award. The jet-age styled is powered by a supercharged 401 Nailhead and is owned by George and Angela Eliacostas.

One building over were the varied styles and models of vehicles vying for the Al Slonaker Memorial Award. This group consists of pretty much any car that is not a roadster, and the makes and builds were as varied as the vehicles themselves. The cast included a ’29, two ‘32s a ’34 and ’37 Ford coupes, a ’34 Plymouth, ’37 Buick, ’49 Buick, ’56 Nomad, ’57 Chevy, ’60 Buick Invicta and a ’67 Mustang. On Sunday evening, the prized award went to George Elacostas’ ’60 Buick built by CAL Auto Creations.

The weekend wasn’t all about the cars. Three automotive icons were inducted into the GNRS Hall of Fame, including Ed “Big Daddy” Roth, the custom car builder best known as the father of the famous "Rat Fink" cartoons, Jack Straton who worked with Roy Brizio Street Rods for over four decades, and Dave Shuten, the lead designer, fabricator and builder at Galpin Auto Sports. There was also the annual gathering of pinstripers creating art during the show that included a live auction, with 100% of the proceeds going to the Haynes Family of Programs charity.

The special feature hall showcased the “Keep on Truckin’: 50 years of Classic Haulers” display that highlighted trucks and custom vans from 1948-1998. The room was bursting with vintage trucks from the street rod era to sport trucks and mini-trucks that set the tone and trends through the late ‘80s and on. The Suede Palace is basically a show within a show of customs, satin paint and hot rodding history while California cruisers soaked up the sun on Saturday, filling the parking areas around the Fairplex buildings.

If you haven’t made time to check out the GNRS, start planning for next year, or for 2025 which will be the 75th anniversary! For now, we present you with a gallery showing a sliver of the cool cars and trucks from the show. For more info, check out RodShows.com.


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