Clear blue skies, warm ocean breezes, palm trees swaying off in the distance, it sounds like a vision of paradise, doesn't it? Now throw in great tunes and some of the hottest rods and coolest customs imaginable, and you've got the recipe for the perfect weekend. Is this pure fantasy, or a figment of our warped little high-performance imaginations? Not hardly! Three years ago the folks at Goodguys decided to move their April Southern California show from the storied Pomona fairgrounds (home of the NHRA) to a location a little farther south, the quiet beachside hamlet of Del Mar. This decision turned out to be a stroke of genius, as the perfect weather and ultra-mellow atmosphere of this upscale San Diego suburb make for an excellent car show, and yours truly was more than happy to escape an entire winter's worth of pent-up car show withdrawal by soaking in the visceral experience that was the 3rd Annual Goodguys Del Mar Nats, which took place April 4-6.
Walking the fairgrounds and looking at attendees' faces, I noticed that many of the show participants were experiencing a similar relief at getting back into the summertime swing of things, and as usual the crop of cars was outstanding. Being that the show took place a block from the beach, it was hardly surprising that roadsters and woodies were everywhere, but the show drew plenty of drop-deadgorgeous coupes and customs, as well. One of the best features of a Goodguys show is that there are lots of things to do besides walking up and down the aisles looking at cars. An indoor showroom showcased some of the top rides of the event, while a large manufacturer's midway featured products as diverse as taillight-shaped desk lamps and full-race shifter karts. A swap meet area was tucked away in the corner of the fairgrounds, where a few dozen vendors hawked all sorts of goodies, including one fellow who was selling one of the most complete collections of R&C "little pages" I have ever seen. The fast-talking gavel slammers at Mecum Auctions were busy rolling rods across the block all weekend, many for surprisingly healthy prices, considering that the season is just getting started. PPG sponsored a seminar on painting techniques, while Kugel Komponents briefed builders and enthusiasts alike on the latest news in independent suspension.
Perhaps the most historically significant portion of the show was a special section devoted to the work of famed rod builder Dick "Magoo" Megugurac, who also served as the event's Grand Marshal. Magoo was known for decades as the king of the A-V8 roadster, and many of his gorgeous highboy creations were able to make the event, including the incredible Deucari, a slightly stretched '32 roadster equipped with V-12 Ferrari running gear. Most of the Magoo cars on display were in as-built condition, and it's a testament to the man's skill that their styling has stood the test of time perfectly. These cars are as purely cool today as they were 10 or 20 years ago.
Overall, the Del Mar Nationals was everything one could hope for, from the bitchin' weather to a mind-boggling array of awesome rides. Then again, the tan California girls walking around in shorts didn't hurt either. It looks like this might shape up to be a pretty good summer...