Customs take Center Stage as the Highlight of the 72nd Sacramento Autorama

For 72 years now the Sacramento Autorama has highlighted some of the best automobiles the West Coast has to offer. Nestled in the capitol of California, and what many consider the Custom Car Capitol of the World, the Sacramento Autorama gathered the West’s bests with others from throughout the country and shined the spotlight on traditional Custom cars this past weekend.

The lineup of awards dedicated to these custom creations are in memory of some of the best customizers in the world. Guys like Bagdasarian, Barris, Balion, and Bertolucci. Rod Shows calls them the “Big B” Awards, for obvious reasons. All four of the Big B Awards are selected by family members of those who have passed. Here are the 2023 recipients:

But the annual top honor award that customs vie for in Sacramento is the Custom D’Elegance title. This year the trophy went back to the east coast after being awarded to Cody Walls and his gold ’49 Buick that debuted at the Grand National Roadster Show earlier this year in the Slonaker competition. Cody’s Buick edged out a strong field of six beautiful, traditional customs.

2023 Sacramento Autorama. Custom delegance winner

New for 2023 was the ARP West Coast Challenge competition which awarded $12,500 and a trophy to the Grand Champion, $6,500 to the runner up, and $3,500 to the third-place finisher. To qualify for the West Coast Challenge, vehicle owners needed to attend three of the four following events: Grand National Roadster Show, Portland Roadster Show, Spokane Speed and Custom Show, and the Sacramento Autorama. In Sacramento the judges did their final deliberating and awarded Jeff Hess’ “OldsSled” ’56 Oldsmobile as the inaugural West Coast Challenge winner – yet another major award for OldsSled after debuting at the 2020 Detroit Autorama, and later that year being crowned Goodguys Custom of the Year.

2023 Sacramento Autorama, oldssled, west coast challenge winner

In addition to these top honors mentioned, there were a slew of awards handed out to hot rods, classic trucks, muscle cars, and street rods during Sunday evening’s awards ceremony. The outdoor drive-in car show was a happenin’ place to be on Saturday and Sunday with California’s sun shining bright, and buildings like the Traditional Hot Rod & Custom Showcase and the Butch Gardner Clubhouse provided even more diversity to the show.

Other special features like the Pinstriper Charity Auction, Legends of the Autorama induction, and multiple bike and motorcycle displays just added to the event roaster, as well as the Builder of the Year honors which went to Bill Ganahl and his South City Rod & Custom shop out of Hayward, CA who had a full display of some of their latest work.

Check out this gallery we captured of some of the indoor rides that caught our attention when we strolled through the Cal Expo show grounds during our Friday visit. And view the full list of event winners here.

2023 Sacramento Autorama Photo Extra!

2023 Sacramento Autorama

Director of Media & Marketing

A lifelong car kid, Steven grew up around drag strips – his name may sound familiar because his grandfather is Bob Bunker, a Pro Mod pioneer who piloted the “Folsom Flash” ’55 Chevy from the ’70s through the ’90s. Steven’s father, Bob Bunker Jr., heads up Bunker Motorsports and is a regular in the West Coast racing scene, building chassis and race cars for more than 30 years. With genetics like that, it’s no wonder Steven has a passion for both cars and motorsports. In addition to helping his father and honing his fabrication skills at Bunker Motorsports, Steven began shooting photos at the drag strip and capturing the action with his Canon camera. He is now artfully crafting stories around the awesome machines at the shows, as well as the men and women behind them. When he's is not on the road covering events, he spends his downtime out on the water fishing, building his 1962 Chevy Nova, or cruising his 1987 GMC Suburban.