The 68th Annual O'Reilly Sacramento Autorama 2019 - After the Storm
Northern California just finished being battered by winter storms and sky rivers, or whatever they’re called these days. The weather was so wet, dreary and cold that car show season seemed, not just months away but more like something in a different and far off dimension. Though we’ve been down this road many times, the Sacramento Autorama at Cal Expo always seems, year after year, to arrive right after the latest winter storm, and at just the perfect time for the child that lives inside of us (yeah, that sounds weird). Going into the weekend, the forecasts were ominous erratic and we were relatively certain there would be a total washout….
Our fears were misplaced as the Autorama lived up to its steady reputation of opening the season of cars shows and motorsports on which we waste away….er devote our precious weekends. The only damper the weather managed to throw on the event was that it kept the number of cars that normally show up for the Autorama’s “show-what-you-drove,” open air display area pretty low, though there were some hardcore and devoted show-offs who braved the cold and the threat of wet to show off their machines, creativity and talent to anyone else who wanted to be out in the elements to check out the hardware. Our hats are off to those who were inclined to share, as this is one of our favorite things about the Autorama.
As we noted in the title, this was the 68th incarnation of our fair city’s premiere hot rod and custom event. We certainly try to attend every year to see all the high profile national circuit cars as well as the best of what our state and region produce. Thought some of these cars appear fairly regularly at the Autorama, we are no less excited or impressed by them. It’s kind of like homecoming. From the rusty to the ridiculously ornate, we love it all, and crave them every February.
Now, on to the cars……
One specimen that really left its mark on us this year was a 47 Ford COE named (just a big ol’) FIASCOE! We just can’t seem to get this thing out of our heads. We were both magnetically attracted to it numerous times on Saturday when we went to the event together, but I (Andrew) couldn’t escape it’s glorious allure yet again on Sunday when I took my son to the event. The owners and builders ticked all of the boxes on this build. The color, PPG Fisacoe Green, was as rich and velvety as The Continental’s smoking jacket. The suspension and stance thanks to the builders at Standley Brothers Hot Rods and Accuair were absolutely on the money. And speaking of money, the CA Redemption value of the massive polished aluminum wheels must be about a million bucks.
As in years past, the Autorama has retained a few more features that we’ve really come to enjoy. The first we’ll mention is the interactive and fan friendly area featuring local pin stripers and other automotive artists. Anyone who was so inclined could approach these virtuosos and learn about the ancient art of pin striping and all the finesse and concentration (and squirrel hair) required to do it well.
There were also several live bands (Who knew surf rock was still a thing?) on tap playing all over the CalExpo campus and lots and lots of food trucks in attendance to keep the crowds fed and energetic enough to walk through the acres and acres of hot rods and customs.
Another feature we’ve come to love and expect is the massive assemblage of low riders that the weekend attracts. There were at least 5 buildings full of them, in all styles and from all eras, provided mostly by a handful of Northern California car clubs. As good as the cars are, one of the best things about these displays are the reactions on people’s faces when they’re obviously taking these works of art in for the first time. Whether it’s the craftsmanship, the chrome, the hydraulics or the creativity, these cars surprise and inspire.
Along with the cars and trucks, you can usually spot some automotive personalities at the Autorama. In years past, we’ve seen and/or chatted with the likes of Gene Winfield, Dave Kindig & KevDogg, Ray Evernham, Blackie Gejeian, Jimmy Shine, and Billy Gibbons. This year’s event featured special guests Joe and Amanda Martin of Martin Bros. Customs in Johnson City Texas. These two and their talented crew of fabricators, painters and otherwise colorful characters are featured on the Motor Trend Channel’s show, Iron Resurrection. As we’re fans and regular viewers, we were a little disappointed that we didn’t get to see any of their builds on display, but we (one of us anyway) got over our disappointment and went in for a brief introduction, chat, swag purchase, and yessss a sweet sweet selfie!!!
The real core of Autorama, it’s beating heart, is that not one vehicle in any building, at any display or in the show (with very rare exception) came from the factory in the form in which it currently exists. Walking amongst the custom work, it is easy to get lost in the meticulous details and creativity of builders, designers and owners. Rather than measuring the costs of a build, the Autorama reminds us to measure the hours, the long days and often nights spent getting the job done. Yes, some are six figure custom creations, others are long-term productions with the car and owner spending time together at home in the garage. In the end though, the cost differences matter little as they all are the embodiment of hours of sweat, busted knuckles and countless eye rolls from friends and family that doubt the vision.
As always, we hope you enjoy our words, but the photos are typically so much better.