We were still buzzed from the Grand National Roadster Show a couple weekends earlier. The sensory bombardment of seven-or was it eight?-buildings stuffed with the country's best rods and customs doesn't shake off quickly. Now we were at the Cal Expo fairgrounds in Sacramento geared up to repeat the experience. Except now there were 10 or 11-or was it 12?-buildings jam-packed with more extraordinary rides of every description.

The Sacramento Autorama is the nation's second oldest indoor hot rod show, a year younger than the GNRS. Northern California is custom country and the H.A. Bagdasarian World's Most Beautiful Custom award-named for the man who started this show back in 1950-is the big prize here. This year, 14 entries competed for the WMBC title. When the judging was done, the honor (along with a huge trophy) was given to Mercules, Bruno Gianoncelli's '50 Mercury high-tech hardtop.

We spent a lot of time in Building D, temporarily dubbed the Suede Pavilion. Alex "Axle" Idzardi, of the Shifters car club, helped organize this show within a show, dedicated to nostalgic, traditionally built hot rods and customs. It wasn't all suede in the Suede Pavilion; in fact, painted cars were in the majority, and several could've held their own in the "regular" Autorama. Of course, that would've meant missing the live rockabilly, honky-tonk, and surf bands that played throughout the weekend, not to mention the crowd of pinstripers who kept their brushes busy at the panel jam organized by T.J. Pagano. On Sunday, all of the pinstriped panels and other custom-painted objects of art were auctioned off, raising several thousand dollars for the UC Davis Children's Hospital. Makes you proud.

The photos give you some idea of the variety and quality of customs and rods at this year's Sacramento Autorama. More cars are featured in the expanded coverage at www.rodandcustommagazine.com, and even more are currently under construction for 2009's show. We plan on being there to see them in person. How 'bout you?