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Grand National Roadster show opens in Pomona

January 27, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
They're painted, plated and polished. Hot rods and custom cars will be spread all around at the Grand National Roadster Show at the Pomona Fairplex this weekend.

"It's the granddaddy of them all. It's the largest indoor car show in the world," said the show's producer, John Buck.

Hot rods are steeped in American culture. Veterans come to the show year after year, but first-timers are always encouraged to check things out too.

"Even if they don't know makes and models, you can tell that it's been altered and cut up and changed and it's just wild or cool, so it's neat to see those reactions where people go, 'This is neat,'" said custom car builder Steve Strope.

Neat, cool and dazzling will all work here.

The gleaming cars are often commissioned by buyers, who often write big checks to builders.

Some of them will compete for the America's Most Beautiful Roadster award, the 9-foot perpetual trophy that would dwarf hockey's Stanley Cup.

Cars finished to the nth degree dominate, but you can also check out a work in progress or two.

"We like to show them off in a stage of creation, because a lot of people like to hide stuff and we don't hide anything. We want to show off what it takes to actually make one of these things," said Hot Rods and Hobbies' Scott Bonowski.

The spectrum of custom car aficionados is pretty broad. The show has a right-hand drive beauty belonging to rocker Eric Clapton.

No word on whether he'll be attending, but if he does, he'd probably appreciate the car-themed custom guitars, also on display.

Owning a hot rod can be expensive and take up space in your garage. So, the next best thing would be a scaled-down hot rod. The show features pedal cars customized by well-know hot rod designers. They will be up for bid, with proceeds going to charity.

The pedal cars are part of the birthday celebration for the 1932 Ford, a hot-rodding favorite.

The Petersen Automotive Museum will auction them off in the coming year to benefit its schools program.

Other charities share space here as well, as hot rod folks often like to help out.

They're also helping out in another way, according to Strope.

"We, as far as I'm concerned, are the first 'recyclers.' We've been taking junk, and making it useful and nice, way longer than everybody was 'green,'" he said.

These "recycled" old cars are on display through Sunday.