Building a Legacy – Custom Car Icon Bobby Alloway adds to his Ever-Expanding Trophy Case with Inaugural Goodguys “Chevrolet Performance Builder of the Year” GM Iron Award
Story Courtesy PPG Automotive Refinish
Bobby Alloway is an icon in the world of custom automobiles. He has been building distinctive, trendsetting street rods, cruisers and muscle cars at his Tennessee-based shop since 1991.
Along the way, he has won pretty much every major trophy relevant to his profession. This includes the highly coveted Detroit Autorama Ridler Award, the SEMA Battle of the Builders competition and multiple America’s Most Beautiful Roadsters awards. This is in addition to a number of prestigious Goodguys honors including Street Machine of the Year, and multiple Street Rod of the Year and Builder’s Choice Awards.
Yet, anyone with even the slightest knowledge of the man and his work can relate one basic truth – he’s not in it for the hardware.
“My goal for every build is to create the best car possible,” said Alloway, who commands the seven-person crew at Alloway’s Hot Rod Shop. “If the car wins an award, it’s a bonus. But my main goal is to build a great car that makes me, my crew and my customer happy.”
His philosophy of not building cars to win awards could very well be the reason Alloway takes home so many. It’s always all about the car, and nothing else matters. This certainly appeared to be the case in late 2021, when Alloway drove away with the inaugural Goodguys Chevrolet Performance Builder of the Year GM Iron Award.
Much like all of Alloway’s major honors, winning this award would not come easy. At 14 events across the Goodguys’ 2021 calendar, dozens of builders showcased vehicles in a designated “Builder of the Year” display area highlighting craftsmanship using Bowtie parts. Two winners were selected from each show – one in a “GM Iron” category, recognizing a GM build with GM power, and one in a “GM Retro Iron” category, which recognizes a non-GM-bodied build utilizing a GM powertrain.
Alloway won the former, and his GM Iron came in the form of a 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle powered by a Keith Dorton-built LSX engine topped with NASCAR SB2 valve covers. This potent combination produces 720 horsepower and is mated to a Tremec TKO five-speed transmission.
The winning Chevy belongs to a gentleman by the name of Jerry Rice, who maintains a modest collection of cars at his home in Royston, Georgia. “Back when I purchased the car from Bobby, it was ‘just a Chevelle,’” said Rice. “But I really liked Bobby’s approach to car building. Approximately two years later, he delivered this very special vehicle.”
The approach Rice refers to can be best described as Alloway’s “signature style.” He typically builds cars that feature a commanding, aggressive look obtained through a combination of color, proportion, stance and pure power. When asked to explain his style, Alloway simplified things by stating, “It’s about big rear tires, little front tires, big motors and black.”
While many painters avoid black because it’s very unforgiving in that it exposes even the tiniest of flaws, Alloway embraces the color without hesitation. “Black is a rich, classy way to enhance the beauty of a car,” he explained. “But to create a flawless black finish, it’s important to be patient when prepping the body and applying the paint. You can’t take shortcuts.”
Renowned throughout the custom car world as the “master of black,” Alloway is a loyal user of the PPG DELTRON basecoat system. “We started using the Deltron system about 12 years ago and it was the best business decision I’ve made,” said Alloway. “It’s extremely user-friendly, and to put it in simple terms, it does exactly what we need it to do.”
For the 1970 Chevelle, Alloway accentuated his traditional use of black with two bold “Lemans blue” racing stripes. “In 1967, GM produced a Corvette in tuxedo black with a bright blue stinger hood and a blue interior,” explained Alloway. “These cars were unique because they only produced a handful of them. I really liked the two-tone scheme, so when I sat down with Jerry Rice to discuss coloring, I suggested this look. It stands out because most builders do black with red, or maybe black with white or silver. The car is definitely an eye catcher. We’re all pretty happy with the finished product.”