The 73rd Annual Grand National Roadster Show Winners – America’s Most Beautiful Roadster and Al Slonaker Memorial Award
The O’Reilly Auto Parts Grand National Roadster Show recognized the top roadsters, hot rods and custom vehicles in the country during its awards ceremony, which took place during the 2023 show in Pomona, CA last weekend. The ceremony culminated this year’s show and included the presentation of two of the car world’s most coveted awards: America’s Most Beautiful Roadster (AMBR) and the Al Slonaker Memorial Award.
One of the oldest and most prestigious awards in the automotive world, the AMBR award is presented to a vehicle with exceptional originality, style, design and craftsmanship. It is open to all 1937-and-older U.S.-production-based roadsters, roadster pickups, Phaetons and touring cars. This year’s winner, a 1932 Ford Roadster owned and built by Jack Chisenhall, bested eight other contenders to take home the title’s $12,500 prize provided by Automotive Racing Products (ARP). It also became immortalized on the award’s nine-foot-tall perpetual trophy alongside a “who’s who” of hot rodding, including legendary builders like George Barris, Andy Brizio, Boyd Coddington, Troy Ladd and Chip Foose.
The AMBR-winning Deuce, built by owner, designer and fabricator Jack Chisenhall at his shop in San Antonio, Texas, has been decades in the making. Its traditional style and tasteful lines contribute to its exceptional overall look, ultimately winning it the “most beautiful” title from a judging panel made up of seven designers, builders and experts.
Inspired by Tony Capanna’s Dodge-powered Indy car and hot-rodder Jackie Howerton, Chisenhall began envisioning what would become the “Champ Deuce” in the late ‘80s and had Thom Taylor render what would form part of the build’s plans in 2000. The Ford frame was fixed to a predetermined ride height on May 10, 2017, and the body mounted to the frame shortly afterward. The car eventually went to California, where Darryl Hollenbeck handled the body and paint, Sid Chavers built the interior and top, and Roy Brizio and Brizio Street Rods provided project support, finish details and final assembly.
The Al Slonaker Memorial Award is dedicated to the memory of Al and Mary Slonaker, who founded the Grand National Roadster Show in 1949. The award has been presented to the best non-roadster vehicle at the show each year since 1974. The winner of this year’s award is a 1960 Buick Invicta Custom owned by George and Angela Eliacostas and built by CAL Automotive Creations, which also received a $12,500 prize thanks to award sponsor ARP and is now permanently etched on the perpetual trophy.
The winning Jet Age-inspired 1960 Buick Invicta Custom was tastefully modified and features a centrifugally supercharged Buick 401 Nailhead V8 with smoothed and polished block and heads. The two-door hardtop’s interior boasts rare Invicta Custom hardback bucket seats with custom pearlized leather and woven aircraft carpeting. Paying homage to the design wonders of the Boeing B-52 Stratofortress, its body lines are sleek and the brass trim is CAD-designed and precision machined. Its one-piece machined rear bumper delivers a refined and polished flow for an overall elegant and aerospace-inspired final product, over ten years in the making from the Bennington, Nebraska-based shop.
“The caliber of vehicles in this year’s awards was simply outstanding, and we are honored some of the best in the business continue to choose the Grand National Roadster Show to unveil their builds to the world,” said John Buck, owner of Rod Shows and producer of the Grand National Roadster Show. “The ‘Champ Deuce’ and ‘X-60’ Invicta bested an incredible field of contenders to take top honors and join their place in Rod Shows history.”
More than 600 individual awards were presented during the closing ceremonies of the Grand National Roadster Show, which has earned its reputation as “The Grand Daddy of Them All” by showcasing more than 1,000 world-class roadsters, hot rods, muscle cars and customs while attracting tens of thousands of fans throughout the weekend.
This year’s event also featured a special “Keep on Truckin’: 50 Years of Classic Haulers from 1948-1998” indoor exhibit presented by LMC Truck and Classic Truck Performance Magazine. Some of the most recognizable builds included “Copperhead,” a 1967 Chevy C10 built by Stacey David on the television show “Trucks,” Chip Foose’s 1956 Ford F-100 built on the show “Overhaulin'” and trucks by famed builders such as Boyd Coddington, “Lil” John Buttera, “Fat Jack” Robinson, Art Chrisman, Tim Strange and others.
Outside, the 17th Annual Grand Daddy Drive-In welcomed hundreds of hot rods, muscle cars, classics, customs and trucks each day. Other highlights included a lowrider exhibit, the vintage-themed Suede Palace and over 15 custom flat-bottom, wood-deck, drag and K-boats with supercharged engines and intricate paint jobs. Also on site were industry-leading builds like the Ringbrothers’ “ENYO” and Kevin Hart’s “Hellraiser,” along with some of the most respected custom-car builders in the industry, such as Roy Brizio, Bobby Alloway, Chip Foose, Troy Ladd, Troy Trepanier, Steve Strope and more.
For more information about the 2023 O’Reilly Auto Parts Grand National Roadster Show and the complete list of 2023 award winners, please visit rodshows.com/grand-national.
Story & Photos courtesy Grand National Roadster Show / Kahn Media