Reviewing Two Decades of Goodguys/BASF America’s Most Beautiful Winners
The Goodguys West Coast Nationals in Pleasanton, California has long been considered the “Crown Jewel” on the Goodguys national event calendar, so it seems appropriate that one of Goodguys’ exclusive Top 12 awards should be determined and bestowed at this storied event. As the oldest National event on the Goodguys calendar – and a longtime Mecca for pre-’49 street rods – the Top 12 award we developed was the America’s Most Beautiful Street Rod honor.
There have historically been two sides to street rodding: the function and performance side, and the beauty and appearance side. The Goodguys America’s Most Beautiful Street Rod honor was clearly developed to emphasize the aesthetic side of street rodding. Simply put, it has always been considered a straightforward beauty contest, where refinement, build quality, finesse and flash go a long way toward securing victory.
For two decades, the America’s Most Beautiful Street Rod contest has consistently drawn a strong crop of contenders to the West Coast Nationals every August. Former Ridler Award and America’s Most Beautiful Roadster winners are often among the mix of candidates, and premier builders from across the country frequently make the trek west to vie for this exclusive honor. Winning builders have included such names as Foose, Moal, Burman, and Roadster Shop.
While the original award description specified that contenders must be pre-’49 vintage, in 2020 Goodguys decided to change the criteria to allow all street rods, trucks, customs, street machines, and muscle cars through 1987 to compete. It’s now known as the BASF America’s Most Beautiful award and retains its emphasis on being primarily a beauty contest.
Since we showcased Bob Matranga’s 2020 BASF America’s Most Beautiful ’55 Chevy “Brute Force” earlier this month, we thought it made sense to review AMBSR winners from the past two decades and see the path that has led to the style showcased in today’s top rides. Like other recent retrospectives we’ve done, it’s impressive to see how relevant many of these cars still look today – they really hold up. That makes sense, because beauty is more than skin deep for cars of this caliber. It involves solid engineering, well-considered design, and excellent craftsmanship – elements that will always be beautiful.
Kugel Muroc Roadster
Kugel Komponents ushered in the new Millennium by offering exclusive Muroc roadster packages consisting of stylized steel bodies built by Marcel DeLay with custom Kugel chassis featuring independent front and rear suspensions. They sold 20 in total – 10 highboys, and 10 fendered roadsters. Nick Barron bought one of the 10 highboys (he also bought a fendered version) and had it built into this bright red beauty using an LS1 engine, 4L60E transmission, Budnik wheels, and tan leather upholstery to contrast the fiery paint. This is the same car that Monty Belsham eventually bought and had Squeeg’s Kustoms rebuild into the black-and-flamed version that won America’s Most Beautiful Roadster at the Grand National Roadster Show in 2020.
Mike & Linda Shiflett
1938 Lincoln Zephyr Coupe
Inspired by Terry Cook’s radical Lincoln Zephyr known as “Scrape,” Mike Shiflett worked with Tim’s Hot Rods to create this sleek and refined custom ’38 Zephyr coupe. The foundation included a custom frame with TCI suspension and RideTech springs, along with an incredibly detailed Lincoln V12 equipped with rare speed parts, fed by triple carbs, and backed by a C4 transmission. Body mods included a chopped top, suicide-style doors, extended rear fenders and skirts, pie-cut hood, smooth running boards, and Mercedes headlights, with two-tone Prowler Copper and Chrysler Pewter paint finishing things off. C&B Upholstery stitched the leather interior on this beauty, which brought big bucks a couple years later at a Barrett-Jackson auction.
1933 Ford Coupe
Ron Whiteside doubled up with his ’33 Ford, winning the America’s Most Beautiful Street Rod honor after capturing the Goodguys Street Rod d’Elegance award earlier in the year (not to mention the coveted Ridler Award). Builder Chip Foose dubbed it a “Mercury” thanks to many upscale design influences used in the build. The coupe was built on a Boyd Coddington frame set up with a Chevy LT4 engine, Wilwood disc brakes, and 16- and 17-inch Foose wheels. The body was sliced and streamlined by Marcel’s Custom Metal before being finessed and painted in a BASF “Sedona Fire” hue by the Foose team. It was finished with two-tone tan leather upholstery by Jim Griffin with a cut-down ’50 Mercury steering wheel.
1933 Ford Roadster
Dominator Street Rods built Tim Kerrigan’s slick red ’33 Ford roadster using a hand-built stretched and widened body. The custom Dominator chassis incorporated independent front and rear suspensions, a Winters quick-change rearend, 17- and 20-inch Colorado Custom wheels, and a detailed 4.6-liter Ford DOHC Cobra engine with an ATI ProCharger and Tremec five-speed transmission. The exterior was finished with bright red paint and custom headlights and taillights, while the equally red leather cockpit got custom Classic Instruments gauges with logos for Red Line Oil, the company Kerrigan founded. The sleek roadster recieved a facelift two years ago, with burgundy House of Kolor paint and tan leather upholstery helping it earn the 2019 Goodguys Street Rod d’Elegance honor.
Paul & Erik Hansen
1932 Ford Roadster
Keeping a traditional feel while crafting a car flashy enough to attract top honors can be a tricky balance, but that’s what happened with “Sedeuced,” Paul and Erik Hansen’s ’32 Ford roadster built by Steve Moal, Tom Walsh, and other noted craftsmen. It started with a Moal-built tubular chassis with torsion bar suspensions, a forged aluminum front axle, and a custom rear center section machined by Lil’ John Buttera. A highly detailed 383c.i. stroker engine and Tremec transmission were part of the mechanical package, while the heavily massaged body was adorned with sleek speed blisters and screens, in addition to the beautiful Darryl Hollenbeck PPG paint. Finished with elegant Sid Chavers upholstery, Sedeuced was a true standout street rod.
1936 Ford Roadster
Ken Reister’s incredible “Impression” ’36 Ford roadster built by Chip Foose was distinctive enough to win both the Goodguys Street Rod d’Elegance honor as well as America’s Most Beautiful Street Rod award (not to mention the 2005 Ridler Award and 2006 America’s Most Beautiful Roadster). The beautiful coach-built creation used a Marcel DeLay body that blended ’36 and ’37 Ford design elements and rode on a one-off chassis with independent front and rear suspensions, an LS1 engine, and custom 18- and 20-inch wheels. More than 4,000 custom-machined and one-off parts were reportedly used on Impression, which was painted in a rich pewter BASF hue and sported elegant two-tone leather upholstery inside.
Kevin & Karen Alstott
1935 Ford Roadster
We saw Kevin and Karen Alstott’s ’35 Ford roadster back in the January issue, as it won the 2007 Street Rod d’Elegance honor (in addition to that’s year’s America’s Most Beautiful Roadster, and 2006’s Ridler Award). Built by Roger Burman, the sleek roadster was based on a hand-formed body by Marcel DeLay that was covered in distinctive two-tone PPG paint. It rode on a custom frame with a stretched wheelbase and got one-off 17- and 20-inch wheels rolling courtesy of an all-aluminum 408c.i. Donovan engine dressed in polished aluminum and backed by a Tremec six-speed. Inside, Recovery Room stitched elegant caramel-colored leather upholstery over custom bucket seats, with a shapely custom console in between.
1932 Ford Coupe
Arizona hot rodder Joe Schott commissioned Mike and Randy Way of All Ways Hot Rods to craft this bitchin’ blue ’32 Ford coupe designed by Jimmy Smith. The Way brothers started with a rare Dearborn Deuce coupe body and a Boyd Coddington chassis modified with bobbed front frame horns and inboard coil-over shocks and rolling on one-off 18- and 20-inch Coddington wheels. A painted and polished LS1 resided behind those hood blisters, connected to a 4L60 transmission. A custom grille and one-off stainless trim complemented the body, which was bathed in bright House of Kolor Oriental Blue paint. Camel leather upholstery adorned the interior, which also featured three onboard cameras, an LED video screen, and a DVD player.
1939 Ford Convertible
Marvin Bok’s ’39 Ford convertible was both elegant and beautiful, which helped it earn both the America’s Most Beautiful Street Rod and Street Rod d’Elegance honors in 2009. Built by Roseville Rod & Custom, the convertible featured a wedge-sectioned and thoroughly refined body and a chopped windshield, all coated in a sumptuous and rich PPG Cabernet finish. The TCI chassis used RideTech air springs and a host of polished and plated suspension components, all rolling on custom chrome-plated EVOD wheels. A supercharged 4.6-liter Ford V8 provided power. The cockpit was elegantly stitched in tan leather upholstery and finished off with a one-off dash sporting a large oval speedometer from a ’35 Olds complemented with matching custom gauges.
1932 Muroc Roadster
Jerry Magnuson’s “Magnatude” was the second Muroc roadster to win the America’s Most Beautiful Street Rod award. Jerry Magnuson started with a full-fendered roller and built it into this masterpiece that featured polished Kugel independent front and rear suspensions, an LS1 Chevy engine force fed by a Magnuson supercharger, and a Tremec six-speed transmission that got a set of one-off Foose 17- and 20-inch wheels rolling. The two-tone butterscotch pearl and champagne paint was complemented by a custom cloth top, DuVall-style windshield, custom fabricated trim, hidden headlights, a custom dash, and gorgeous two-tone leather upholstery stitched by Jim Griffin. “Magnatude” doubled up in 2010, winning the Goodguys Street Rod d’Elegance honor in addition to AMBSR.
1939 Buick Sedan
Big, beautiful, elegant and cool are appropriate ways to describe Harold Wiley’s four-door ’39 Buick sedan – the only four door to win the America’s Most Beautiful Street Rod crown. Built by Kindig-It Design, the sedan blended classic lines with a low-slung modern stance courtesy of a boxed frame with TCI and RideTech suspension components. The 17-inch Intro Smoothie wheels were topped with custom center caps. The two-tone PPG paint was a mix of pearl gray and white with subtle striping, complemented by burlwood accents and micro suede upholstery in the roomy cabin. With a powerful and well-detailed LS2 under the long hood, this big and beautiful Buick was more than ready for some comfy long-distance cruising.
Garry & Diana Crawford
1940 Chevy Coupe
Gary Keller’s first car in 1962 was a ’40 Chevy coupe. Five decades later, he commissioned Mike Keller at Big Creek Restorations to craft a much-nicer version, guided by a Jason Rushforth rendering. Modifications included a scratch-built grille, pie-cut hood, reshaped fenders and headlights, custom trim, ’46 Ford bumpers, and custom gravel shields, plus a brilliant PPG Vibrance Cinnamon candy color over a copper base. The body mods were complemented by 18- and 20-inch Foose wheels attached to an Art Morrison chassis with a RideTech air suspension and a 480hp LS3 backed by a 4L80E transmission. The roomy cabin featured brown leather upholstery by Xibit Customs and a custom dash fitted with one-off instruments.
Harold & Tracy Chapman
1933 Ford Roadster
The “Pretty Penny” ’33 Ford roadster made its way through several shops before Harold Chapman finished it at his Texas-based Customs & Hot Rods of Andice. The distinctive style was achieved with a chopped and modified top and finely finessed metal under the PPG Pretty Penny paint. The boxed frame was guided by a custom aluminum front axle and hairpins, with a custom four-link supporting the Currie 9-inch rear. Jimmy Smith designed the distinctive wheels machined by EVOD, while a fuel-injected Roush 427c.i. Ford engine and Tremec transmission got things moving. Inside, a custom dash housed a Studebaker gauge cluster outfitted with Classic Instruments, complemented by a Greening steering wheel and custom leather upholstery by Jay Schuler.
Kevin & Angie Bischoff
1936 Dodge Sedan
Car Builder Kevin Bischoff of Kevin’s Restorations in Vancouver, Washington, set out to make “an ugly car beautiful” and the result was this completely custom ’36 Dodge known as “Rampage.” The path to success included a chopped top, sectioned trunk, custom grille and headlights, lengthened doors, and smoothed panels, all covered in brilliant House of Kolor candy apple red paint. The much-modified body rode on a Morrison air spring chassis with a disguised small-block Chevy engine, 9-inch rearend, Wilwood disc brakes, and Billet Specialties wheels. The equally custom cabin sported a center-mounted gauge cluster filled with Classic Instruments, a Billet Specialties wheel atop a tilt column, and two-tone brown leather upholstery over bucket seats and custom door panels.
1932 Ford Roadster
Al Nagele wanted a ’32 Ford roadster with a modern European sports car twist and came up with the “Deuce Flyer,” a slick silver bullet that he designed and had crafted by the talented team at Roadster Shop. The custom chassis used a Pete & Jakes dropped axle and a potent LS engine topped by dual quads and backed by a Tremec transmission. The highly modified Brookville Roadster body featured raised rear wheel wells, a reshaped cowl, a stretched hood with louvered sides, and bright pewter paint that matched the spokes on the Billet Specialties wheels. Sculpted brown leather covered the seats and side panels, with center-mounted Classic Instruments in the dash and a wood-grained rim on the custom wheel.
1937 Ford Coupe
Reshaped, regal, and powerful, Dan Wathor’s ’37 Ford was a decade in the making. Built by Kenny’s Rod Shop, the sleek coupe was built on a chomoly tube chassis with modified Heidts front and rear suspensions, adjustable RideTech air springs, and solid aluminum 18- and 20-inch wheels fitted with vintage-style center caps. The Ford Cleveland V8 was stroked to 427c.i. and fitted with Arias Hemi heads and fuel injection. The body was smoothed and finessed, with a custom grille and headlights, modified hood, and custom molded taillights, all topped off with a brilliant gold PPG hue. Toffee-colored vintage-style leather was used to stitch the upholstery, with Classic Instruments and a Juliano’s banjo-style wheel providing the finishing touches.
1933 Ford Roadster
Dubbed the “Renaissance Roadster,” Buddy Jordan’s one-off creation, crafted by Steve’s Auto Restorations, had quite a year in 2017, winning the coveted Ridler Award in Detroit before coming to Pleasanton in August to capture the America’s Most Beautiful Street Rod crown. The angular hand-formed aluminum body was designed by Chris Ito and featured a custom grille, one-off headlight housings, and gorgeous PPG violet red paint with black cherry on the fenders and top. Polished independent front and rear suspensions and one-off EVOD wheels supported the custom chassis, with an all-aluminum big-block Chevy for power. The interior was equally elegant, with custom leather upholstery, a one-off wheel, and a 1930 Nash instrument cluster with custom dials by Classic Instruments.
1936 Pontiac Sedan
Stunning streamlined styling, simple elegance, and amazing build quality came together in Robert Anderson’s radical custom ’36 Pontiac sedan known as “Pindian.” Crafted by Legens Hot Rods in Tennessee, the pearl white Pontiac was thoroughly nipped and tucked, with its definitive grille trim strip extended over the roof and down the back, a stretched nose, wedge-sectioned body, and lightly chopped top. The Roadster Shop frame was outfitted with a Kugel IRS, a supercharged LT4 engine backed by a 4L80E transmission from Bowler Performance, and one-off wheels carved by EVOD. The stunning interior was highlighted by a center-mounted globe-like gauge cluster by Dakota Digital, beautiful caramel-colored leather upholstery, a one-off EVOD steering wheel, and custom aluminum trim from Clayton Machine.
1936 Ford Roadster
George Poteet won the coveted America’s Most Beautiful Roadster trophy with his “Three Penny” ’36 Ford roadster at the Grand National Roadster Show to start off 2019, and he finished the season by winning the Goodguys BASF America’s Most Beautiful Street Rod honor. Crafted by Pinkee’s Rod Shop, the understated roadster was designed by Eric Black and featured stretched front fenders, a leaned-back grille, stretched cockpit, chopped top, ’39 Ford-style deck lid, and hundreds of custom-machined parts complemented by chocolate-milk-colored paint. Power came from a small-block Ford V8 topped with EFI and backed by a Tremec transmission, while the intricate pin-drive knock-off wheels were machined by Curtis Speed. Sid Chavers stitched the beautiful Relicate leather in classic pleated patterns.