Cars That Made A Difference
R&C Cover Cars Past And Present Made A Special Appearance At The GNRS

Highboy hot rods and cool customs as the feature exhibit in an art gallery? That's like asking Rosie O'Donnell and Ugly Betty to host American Idol, or worse yet, model the latest in two-piece swimwear. What gives?

What gives is that Rod & Custom, acting in cahoots with STREET RODDER, hosted a rather special-and landmark-exhibit at this year's Grand National Roadster Show. The exhibit was entitled "Cars That Made A Difference," and it took place in the Millard Sheets Center for the Arts, an art gallery that's situated in a corner of the Pomona Fairplex, site for the annual Roadster Show the past few years now.

Specifically, the cars that composed the exhibit were former cover cars that, through the years, appeared on the fronts of R&C and SR. No, we couldn't begin to include every hot rod and custom that made it to those hallowed pieces of editorial real estate; there simply wasn't enough room in the exhibit hall for that. Heck, even Rosie and Betty can't make every Hollywood engagement. But we managed to include as many cars as we could for this gig, with the notion that we'd also respect the art gallery heritage in the process. So, first, a few words about the Sheets art gallery:

The gallery's namesake-Millard Owen Sheets-was an artist of repute, born in Pomona, California. Sheets' oil paintings, sketches, and renderings were well known and respected among his peers and art aficionados, and after he passed away, the art community and Fairplex management saw fit to name this gallery in his honor. The gallery building offers an intimate setting, too; carpeted floors, walls painted in soft hues, low ceilings, and diffused overhead lighting create an intimate setting to distance you from the clamor and bustle of the outside world so that you can focus on the subject at hand-art. Or, in this case, rod and custom art.

As you might guess, we had fun putting this exhibit together, but in the process we wracked our brains trying to cull the car herd to a workable number. We-meaning R&C-also effectively had only half the floor space to work with. Remember, we were sharing the gallery with our friends across the hallway here at the R&C/SR headquarters.

You'll notice in the accompanying photos that there are no annoying stanchions laced with ropes or chains to obstruct the view of each car. We did this for a reason-this was an art exhibit, dangit, and art should be enjoyed in its fullest. So we bared the cars to the world, and we offer hearty and special thanks to the participating car owners for agreeing to work with us in that capacity, too. We realized that we were placing their cars in potential harm's way, but everyone agreed that this was the only way that cover cars should be viewed.

GNRS show promoter John Buck, with the cooperation of the Pomona Fairplex, worked with us to spiff the exhibit even further by allowing our magazines to decorate the walls with poster-size (24x36) metal reprints of the covers that showcased the respective cars on display. Everyone thought that was a nice touch, and each of those reproduction covers included information about the featured car and its past and current owner. In addition, we lined the walls with about 100 other enlarged photos from our archives, so there was always something new and inviting to catch your eye.

But all that amounted to mere frosting on the cake; the cars remained the main attraction. Even so, we had one more surprise up our corporate sleeve-many of the cars' builders and owners were there too. Their presence allowed visitors at the art center to mingle and talk with them. At some point during the three-day show you were sure to see the likes of Blackie Gejeian, Tommy Ivo, Magoo, Jimmie Vaughan, Chip Foose, Roy Brizio, Bob Kolmos, Bobby Alloway, and former R&C staffers Jim "Jake" Jacobs and Spence Murray at our display. As for Rosie and Betty, we kept them on American idle while we resumed our stroll at the GNRS. And for three incredible days we hustled from building to building, loving every minute of this annual rite of passage on the road to selecting America's Most Beautiful Roadster.