Grand National Roadster Show brings top custom cars to Pomona

POMONA, Calif. (KABC) -- "Everything that you can imagine on wheels is pretty much here, in the classic American car," said John Buck, producer of the Grand National Roadster Show.

Yep, it's the red carpet event of the year for the vintage car crowd. And their version of an Oscar will be handed out Sunday to one deserving winner. The 9-foot-tall award is called America's Most Beautiful Roadster. Eight cars qualified this year to be in the running for the AMBR award, as it's known.

"It's a perpetual trophy, it's been around since 1950. And there are some amazing names on there, like Blackie Gejeian, and George Barris who's famous in Hollywood for all his cars. And Chip Foose, of course," said Buck.

But it's not just those old-school machines that recall the days depicted in "American Graffiti." The show occupies all of the buildings of the Fairplex, and each one highlights a facet of the custom vehicle world. Lowriders? They're here. Muscle cars? Bingo. Custom trucks? Yes, plenty of them. If it's got wheels and is shiny, you can give it a gaze and create Instagram gold. And there are different reasons to like it all.

"One of them is to see great variety. Another is to see a car like your dad drove, possibly. And the main thing is to see what these artists can do," said car enthusiast Bob Cummings who is displaying a customized vintage station wagon at the show.

Oh, not everything's necessarily shiny, however. A facet of the hot rod world called "rat rods" are celebrated in an area that also celebrates a lifestyle. The way life was - or seemed - in the time of car culture's explosive growth after World War II.

"The majority of the people in this building live a retro lifestyle like my fiance and I. The vintage clothing, the style of music, the cars, it all sort of goes hand-in-hand," said Alex Axel Idzardi, who founded and manages the building called "Suede Palace," so named because many rat rods are coated only in primer, which has a dull finish. A stark contrast to shiny paint, primer can resemble suede.

And one of the best parts of the show is that since it's held at the Fairplex, many of the long-term Fairplex food vendors will have their booths and stands open this weekend. So as the saying goes, "come hungry."
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