Back to Cruisin’ – West Coast Kustoms Cruisin’ Nationals Returned in ’22
The West Coast Kustoms Cruisin’ Nationals has been a Memorial Day tradition for decades. For the first 25 years, the event was held in Paso Robles, Calif., but it was forced to find a new home after the 2007 event. The Cruisin’ Nationals moved 60 miles south to Santa Maria in 2008 and has never looked back.
The 41st annual Cruisin’ Nationals was held May 27-29, and it was firing on all cylinders after the pandemic. The event featured American-made cars from 1965 and earlier and, as always, catered to the custom-car crowd. The entire show oozes custom culture and everything that comes with it.
The Friday-night cruise down Broadway in front of the historic Santa Maria Inn officially kicked off the event. Customs of all makes and years slowly cruised by the huge crowd that had gathered along Broadway to catch a glimpse of these colorful creations as the smell of Santa Maria barbecue lingered in the air.
Earlier in the day, the West Coast Kustoms inducted three more individuals into their Hall of Fame, which is comprised of famous hot rodders and legendary car customizers. This year’s honorees included hot rodder and musician Jimmie Vaughan, custom car painter Kyle Gann, and Texas car builder Murpho.
On Saturday morning, nearly 700 cars from all over the West Coast invaded the local fairgrounds, Santa Maria Fairpark. With vintage iron, live music, barbecue, vendors, and the Pinstriping Panel Jam charity art auction, the event definitely had something for everyone. Entries came from as far away as Texas, Oklahoma, and even Michigan. There were Fords, Chevys, Rivi’s, and lowriders as far as the eye could see. A little bit of history was also on display: the Emperor, a 1929 Ford roadster designed by George Barris. The car won America’s Most Beautiful Roadster at the 1960 Oakland Roadster Show.
Metal-flake paint, pinstripes, flames, fades, lace and chrome all shining under the California sun — the Cruisin’ Nationals just may be the most colorful car show on the planet. From mild to wild, Santa Maria had it all.
2022 Cruisin’ Nationals Photo Extra!
Photos by Marc Gewertz