Monday, January 26, 2015



We've been spying on esteemed Phoenix, Arizona hot rod artist Jimmy Smith for the last few weeks, as he proceeded with a full-court press to attend the Grand National Roadster Show in Los Angeles. When we left Jimmy last Tuesday, this was the state of his '37 Ford truck project. Jimmy was entering the pray-for-a-miracle stage, and was near the bottom of his calling-in-favors list.

The drivetrain was somewhat operational, and Jimmy had a cushy new seat, but the clock was spinning wildly.

24 hours later. Not yet standing on all fours, but pretty well lit up. This illuminating image represents the coin-flip stage of the thrash process: "Should I stay, or should I go?"

Even Jimmy can't explain how it came to pass, but he found himself going. He and gal pal Jacie are Westbound here, waving goodbye to Phoenix. 

Heroes, beating the odds in one of the few GNRS entries actually driven to the most prestigious car show on planet Earth. The only cargo in the floorless bed was a bountiful load of faith and hope. (Photos courtesy of Jimmy Smith)

Mission accomplished! Jimmy and Jacie received a heartfelt hero's welcome upon rolling into the Pomona Fairplex. The '37 revels in glory on the custom car world's biggest stage (the parking lot of it, anyway). Cinderella's got nothing on this truck. (Photo courtesy of Christopher Walker)

It's well known that this is not exactly a show-friendly blog. But after making this epic journey with Jimmy, we might as well take a look around at the company he now keeps. Here are the SGE staff picks from the GNRS:

Rev Tones drummer Marcus Edell's '40 sedan was another last minute thrash that defied the odds. (Photo courtesy of Street Rodder Magazine)

Edell also beat the clock to get his ex-Johnny Gates street/strip T to the show on time. (Photos courtesy of Marcus Edell)

As always, no one had more fun at the show than Dave Shuten. He and the Galpin Ford crew hit it hard, and delivered the one-to-one scale Grass Hopper T Altered under the wire. Tasty display, too! (Photos courtesy of Dave Shuten)

Showing off the goods at the Hollywood Hot Rods booth. Zowie! (Photo courtesy of Josh Mishler)

Also at the HHR booth, this '32 3-window boasted nary an inch of Henry steel - all is hand-fabbed.

And when HHR gets fabby, they don't screw around. (Photos courtesy of Street Rodder Magazine)

Bonus: Spotted at the American Hot Rod Foundation booth. Six string slinger and hot grease flinger David Steele jammed tasty bluegrass with Liz Sloan on fiddle and Jared McGovern on frailing banjo. Most passerby were likely oblivious to the mastery at hand, but those in the know were savoring every note of this rare treat. The perfect soundtrack to yesteryear, as celebrated by the AHRF... (Photo courtesy of David Steele) 

... while out in the parking lot, brothers Don and John Ewald rocked the joint with a rowdy load of nitro in their BankAmericar AA/FD. (Photo courtesy of Don Ewald)

On Sunday night, all hands were on deck for the awards ceremony, including a confident Dave Shuten (with some nut case sitting next to him mocking his every move. Hey, it's L.A.). Tension filled the main hall to the bursting point before the envelope was finally opened. And the trophy for the 2015 America's Most Beautiful Roadster goes to... (Photo courtesy of Dave Shuten)

... Jimmy Smith's 1937 Ford pickup! Congratulations, Jimmy! You earned it, fair and square. This edition of the GNRS will forever be remembered for the divisive controversy surrounding this year's award. Technically, a roadster is an open vehicle with a removable windshield. But our New Lexicon Webster's Dictionary of the English Language clearly defines "roadster" thus: road-ster (roudstar) noun a. Person or vehicle which spends inordinate amount of time travelling on roadways. See Road rash, Semi-truck, Long hauler, Roadkill. Jimmy and Jacie didn't hang around to debate definitions. They tossed the towering AMBR trophy into the bed of the truck, bungee-corded it to the grimy  exposed undercarriage, and hightailed it to Arizona, snapping this parting shot on their way out of Pomona. (Photo courtesy of Jimmy Smith)


In the name of fair play and credit where it's due, we present the surprise AMBR runner-up: This old Ford was built by Robby Alltheway from Tennessee, who brought it out to California and entered the contest. You gotta hand it to the guy for moxie. The car really isn't all that bad, considering it's a backwoods build by a complete unknown. An amazing rookie accomplishment, actually. Congrats, Robby! And don't give up - you never know where your perseverance might lead. Unlike snootier blogs, we believe in encouraging newcomers. (Photographer unknown)



Following an epic seven year stint at Jimmy Vaag's Iowa bodyshop, Rocky Gosson's '34 Ford coupe is finally back in its Omaha, Nebraska driveway. Gosson plans some refinement of his home-fabbed chassis in preparation of feeding the coupe a one-off 370" Pontiac V-8 and a 5-speed. Well worth the wait, we say. Congratulations to Rocky! 

Rocky Gosson Exposed! The photo behind the photo: "The wind was blowing like hell and the front tire wouldn't stay upright, so I bungee corded it to the frame rail - but not before it blew over right onto its Bob Drake Reproductions '33 Ford hubcap - Spack! Sonuvabitch! The back tire was just leaned up against the little donut spare mounted to the car. I love the stance. It's exactly what I had in mind. Jimmy and I installed a 'Welders Series' flat front crossmember, and I have a 4" dropped axle with reversed eyes and de-arched springs. It's gonna be LOW in front. I'll have to "C" the front and rear frame rails for clearance, but I knew that, going in." (Photos courtesy of Rocky Gosson)


Record holding landspeed racer, book author, and all-around hot rod crazy Jim Lindsay made a triumphant return to Marty Strode's Roadster Ranch last week with his flathead record smasher. Marty confides, "Ernie and I did a leakdown and compression test on it. Leighton brought his race car scales, so we weighed it. Minus water and some body parts, it weighed 2,020 pounds, with 60% of that on the back." Lindsay (in yellow Jegs hat) had no comment on these developments, possibly due to record-holder paranoia (or RHP Syndrome).

Marty spoke at great length to the construction of his brother-beating Stallion motorbike: "Fabricated some foot pegs for the bike. Very comfortable to sit on. That's all for now." Thank you, Marty! (Photos courtesy of Marty Strode)


At Dr. Lockjaw's Custom Metal shop, the SGE Model A project is still creeping along. Last week was creepier than most, due to a windy, lengthy and unnecessary discussion on four-stroke-engine-exhaust-dynamics-as-pertaining-to-practical-design-paradigms-and-packaging-restraints discussion that I drew Doc into. In the scant moments remaining of the weekly session, we made the second of four pieces required for the Ford 4-cylinder motor mounts. The biscuit base and frame upright will be joined by two side pieces, which will enjoy an ample weld area on the frame rail. This is the passenger-side mount.

The driver-side mount is quite different, being several inches less than parallel with the other side, and considerably shorter. Ford's engine block design puts the driver-side mount much closer to the frame rail, as well. After much measuring and muttering, Doc hit on a design that makes the concept appear organic to this application.

Hard to tell from this chin-on-the-axle angle, but the mounts are symmetrical from the front. This was way trickier than it looks. My eternal gratitude for Doc's art school training (and his fab skills, and sandwich making acumen, and...)

Some quality research time at my local NAPA dealer revealed this Ford Ranger 4 X 4 transfer case mount to be just the ticket for our Mazda 5-speed application. We'll miss the folksy warmth of the wood blocks, but a tubular crossmember (destined to become a K-member) is next on the list. 

Notes from the extended shop discussion on possible header and muffler designs. No mention whatsoever was made of firing order/scavenging considerations. The lunch bell rang before we got that far. Then all was forgotten. (Scotty shots)


While attending an invitation only social gathering at this undisclosed Northeast U.S. location, stealthy SGE undercover reporter Mr. X made a stunning discovery...

Hanging from the rafters like a bat, it's the genuine Batmobile fiberglass mold. George Barris fabbed the original Batmobile from Ford Motor Company's steel Futura concept car, but ensuing car show demand dictated half a dozen fiberglass copies, which sprouted from this very mold.

Our man X wasn't done sleuthing yet. The same building also contained this original mold for Speed Racer's Mach 5. And X swears he caught the scent of Jimmy Hoffa wafting from the basement. More on that story as it develops. (Photos courtesy of Mr. X)



As revealed in this week's feature story, there's no business like show business. And there's no people like show people (like no people I know). While purportedly searching for a restroom inside the cavernous main hall at the sprawling Pomona Fairplex, AMBR winner Jimmy Smith happened upon this scene in an unlocked back room. Smith reports a Caucasian male resembling Dave Shuten bolted from the room an instant before snapping this photo of the scene. At press time, Shuten had not returned our requests for comment. (Photo courtesy of Jimmy Smith)

Gotta have a show box for the show blog, and SGE pal Lori Bentley Law's birthday present from the Gasoline Girls car club suits this post to a T. The early-50's era Craftsman two-piece received a spit 'n' polish, latches, and pinstripes from Law's fellow gasser gals and was delivered on time. What else could a girl ask for? (Photo courtesy of Gasoline Girls)


Southern California show culture, illustrated by Mark Ryden.