The upside of climate change (if there is one) is the almost nonstop, year around cars and coffee events that occur throughout California. With a car events seeming to occur every weekend what can one use to judge the official start of car season? For us, the real start of the season occurs at Cal Expo as the O’Reilly Auto Parts Sacramento Autorama roars into town. This year marked the 68th appearance of the Autorama in Sacramento and with it arrived some of the top custom builds and builders in North America. Proving that the Northern California car scene is strong to very strong the parking lot and exhibition halls displayed remarkable examples of automotive ingenuity. The displays ranged from rat rods, hot rods, low riders, custom bicycles, and obscenely powered muscle cars. Reports from the close of the weekend revealed over 900 custom cars were on display. While we're not sure how this year's "a Pirates's Life" theme seemed like a good idea to the promoters, we'll look past it and get on with our words and pictures.
From the top.....The winner of the “Custom D’Elegance” award went to a 1941 Buick Sedanette built in Antioch, California. The Buick known as “Dillinger” earned the top spot in a filed of six customs competing for the award for the best custom vehicles from 1935-1948. The win puts the builders Lucky 7 Customs alongside iconic customizers like Gene Winfield, Joe Bailon, George Barris, and John D’Agostino on the show’s historic perpetual plaque. "Dillinger" also received the “World’s Most Beautiful Custom” award recognizing the favorite custom from 1936 to present that features a silhouette change, including a chop, channel or section. By far, not the flashiest contender, this gem dazzled based on a lot of other factors. We went back to it several times over the weekend to truly appreciate the level of creativity and workmanship that went into the build.
The “King of Kustoms” award went to “Maybellene,” a 1958 Lincoln Continental powered by a twin supercharged Falconer V12 owned by Sue and Tad Leach and built by Dave Kindig and the team at Kindig-It Design. The team at Kindig-It Design also grabbed the Dick Bertolucci Automotive Excellence Award for their build of a 1957 Chevrolet Corvette nicknamed “Family Affair,” owned by Richard and Bonnie Cox. The award recognizes a vehicle manufactured before 1973 that Dick Bertolucci personally felt exhibited the best craftsmanship in assembly, fit and finish, and detail.
The Autorama isn't just about high dollar and high profile cars. Granted no show would be compete without them, the field of cars is broad and varied. If you can't find something you like, there's probably something wrong with you. As has become the norm over the last few years, the Lowrider Showcase has grown in size and popularity. This year's display featured five rooms full of California's most unique, lowest and slowest cruisers. If you like metal flake, airbrushed art, hydraulics and gold plated curb feelers, this is your nirvana. We appreciate the participation of the (mostly) Northern California clubs in this showcase. There were hundreds of owners and their families in attendance to not only enjoy the cars, but also use it as a good excuse for a reunion. These guys and gals are the very embodiment of California's vibrant car culture.
The car featured above is a favorite of ours. This is Matt Haught's stunning 1964 Buick Riviera. It's long and low and not a cookie cutter copy of anything else on the road. If we tried to use only words to describe all the colors and finishes on this thing, you'd probably think were were on drugs, but images can't lie. It's the product of mad genius...no less. Matt and the other members of the Relentless Car Club make and show their beautiful creations and most importantly drive them on the streets so we can all get a fix.
All of the cars featured in the exhibition halls are fine and good...easily worth the price of admission by themselves. That said, the scores of cars on display outside the show halls were (as usual) also worth the price of a ticket. From polished gem grade whips to home garage built hot rods, and from janky mashups to street legal strip cars the show what ya brung area delivered the goods. Despite the cold ambient temperature, the sun kept the chrome sparkling and a little warmth in our bones while we walked the tarmac. As is normal for our annual stroll through the field, we'd be stopped in our tracks about every 15 feet by something gorgeous, unique or something...well....frankly, questionable (ok... maybe ill-advised). Judging by the looks and comments we overheard, we weren't alone in our thoughts and feelings. Featured above is a perfect example of something head-scratching and very cool. It's a one off, six-wheeled, belt driven, Indian motorcycle hauler...and it was for sale!!!
It was good to see people enjoying themselves, talking to passers-by about their creations and all the standard good natured "elaboration" and BS-ing that you hear when gearheads get together.
Frankly, that's why we love cars, car folk and events like the Autorama. Collectively, we've probably attended the event for more than 20 years, and have no plans to stop now. As we mentioned at the beginning of this report, the Autorama is always the first major event on our calendar, and wakes our pulses and sets the tone for the rest of the year...and what a year it is likely to be.
We hope what you've seen and read so far, but as we always like to point out is that our photos are much better than our words. If you've made it this far, please go all the way, and check out our gallery below.
-The Loud Pedal