It had been well over three decades since the Long Beach Renegades had staged their last indoor custom car show. This past September, the clock was rolled back those 30-odd years, and if you hadn't known better, you'd of thought it was the early '60s all over again. That's exactly what many remaining Renegades members-as well as builders (such as Dean Jefferies)-had to say about the Showcase of Kustoms at the Long Beach Motorama. It was nothing short of a historical landmark for the world of customs-from a more than impressive display of '49-51 Mercs to the '50s-60s Survivors display, it was truly an experience of a lifetime for all who attended or participated.
But what may have been the most memorable portion of the show was the incredible Wall of Legends-a three-dimensional display of America's first generation of builders and kustomizers. Each cast hand was mounted on a walnut wall plaque holding the real tools of their trade (a spray gun for Watson, candy apple for Bailon, etc.) Rarely are the true craftsmen and visionaries of the custom world honored-never have they been acknowledged in such a prestigious and personal manner.
It had been 25 years since Dean Jeffries' "Mantaray" saw a West Coast car show-it was on display in the historical lobby, just like he had it in the '64 Grand National Roadster Show, where he took home top honors. Elsewhere you could find a couple of early Barris Kustoms side by side; the clone of Roth's "Mysterion", and Gene Winfields "Strip Star" just in front of them. As a hint to next year's Lions Dragstrip display (a recreation of the actual track-railings, bleachers, Christmas tree and all), three historic Gassers were grouped in the far corner.
As a tribute to the paint legend Larry Watson, his Bellflower shop front was re-created with the "Vino Paisano" parked in front of it along with the "Grapevine" clone sitting next to the shop. On the historical wall you could read all the early magazine articles of his work as well as view him in the Wall of Legends display.
The awards-can't forget the cash-prize awards-Rick Dore, with his Cadillac roadster, won America's Kustom D'Elegance and $15,000; Dave Chavez's '50 Ford Shoebox (the unfortunate victim of terrible crash a month later) won America's Kustom Extraordinaire and $5,000; Fidel Ascencio took home the Dean Jeffries Creative Excellence trophy (Jeffries' cast hand on marble) with an original Jeffries pinstriping brush; the Bill Hines Metal Master trophy (a cast bust of Hines himself) went to Robert Aubrey and his Harry Bradley-inspired '51 Chevy.
And it's all going to happen again, with even more notable attractions and historical displays. Visit www.showcaseofkustoms.com for updates and show information.