The first car show of the year always sets the mood for the season, and all we can say is that we are on the right path this year. This past January, we once again visited the 62nd Grand National Roadster Show, which is one of the longest shows running to date. In the hot rod world, it is also one of the most prestigious shows in the industry. The 2011 GNRS attracted 500 of the world’s most incredible roadsters, hot rods, rat rods, dragsters, trucks, motorcycles and our favorite – the Lowriders. Record crowds crammed the Fairplex for all three days of the show.

This is definitely one of my favorite shows, as it has something for everybody. The three-day show felt like three different shows, as each day brought a different element or vibe to the event. The show kicked off on a Friday with over ten halls of custom vehicles, including one that was a tribute to vintage Motor Trends old school customs. The halls held several ideas that crossed over and could easily be incorporated into the Lowriding culture. If you thought you were the first to panel a ‘58 Impala, this show proved you wrong, as the Motor Trend hall hosted one that was done as a newer car. If you wanted to be a rebel and shop a ‘65 Impala, remember it had been already done by the forefathers of the custom car world.

For those attending car shows in hopes of inspiration, this show is the right show for you, as there were numerous parts and ideas on display. The vendors had it all, including CFR, who offered products for all your under hood needs, on down to Jimglo aluminum dump trailers. If you wanted to know about paint, PPG was on hand to answer the questions. The show even had a pin striping section that brought out all the pin stripers from Southern California, who were ready to lay the paint down on whatever they could get their hands on. The interiors were all one-of-a-kind designs, as everybody wants to be unique with their own creation. The displays have gotten better each year, with builders all vying to stand out from the rest.

This year, the Lowriders were spread out, as they could be found in several halls. Michael Grey, of USO, represented the club well as he came in from Las Vegas with his latest creation, “American Gangster.” Joe Epstein was also at the show, as his 50’s truck laid out on its rockers. David Engle of Go-EZ Customs was awarded the GNRS Best Custom Wagon trophy. From Northern California, Ruben Diaz’ “Mother Ship,” a 70’s style ‘73 Riviera, had everybody appreciating the old school paint job. The Los Angeles harbor area was represented well with Agostino Onorato’s ‘59 Impala hardtop, dubbed “’59 Times.” Lifestyle had a few new cars, including Mr. Cartoon’s ‘59 Impala, “Penny Lane.” Other first timers to this show for Lifestyle included Eddie’s candy painted Le Cabriolet, and George Spesock’s “Voodoo Child,” which sported a custom interior. Another first for the Lowriding community was Luis Lemus’ award for best use of paint, as his ’64 Impala won over a hot rod, further showing that the lines between “us and them” gets blurred as we are all in it for the love of classic automobiles.

The show keeps getting bigger and better with time, as the best of the best comes out annually. We will have to see what next year brings, as the Lowriding sport keeps getting well received, and more accepted by the other car cultures. n