Hot enough to cook a burger on your hood. Row after row of aftermarket manufacturers' displays. Hours of nighttime activity on the streets. Too many acres to walk in a day. And way too many rods to see in a weekend. That's the Nats.
For street rodders, the NSRA Street Rod Nationals is a pilgrimage event. For some, the mid-summer trip to Louisville, Kentucky, is a once-a-year tradition, for others, a once-in-a-lifetime treat. Whether you love huge national events or prefer small local runs, everybody should experience "The Nats."
One of the ways ROD & CUSTOM has been participating at the Nats is through our Pro's Picks programs. We corral off an area at the far end of the Kentucky Fair & Exposition Center on Friday and wait for the participants to show up. Then the R&C staff, assisted by numerous pro builders, automotive journalists, and industry big wigs, do a little judging, selecting the 12 best (in our estimation) cars of the bunch. We're proud to present the winners from the '03 Nationals.
Owner: Bobby & Cindy Alloway, Louisville, TN
Car: '33 Ford Vicky
Drivetrain: Chevy 502 engine and TH350 transmission
Alloway's Hot Rod Shop continues to refine the Speedstar concept with this Victoria, which features a straight-axle and quick-change rearend, along with a Paul Atkins interior.
Owner: Fred & Shirley Douglas, Shawnee, KS
Car: '48 Oldsmobile Convertible
Drivetrain: 502 Ram Jet and 700-R4 transmission
The Olds has received multiple sheetmetal models, plus a custom leather interior. Fred built it for long trips, including participation in the R&C Asphalt Ego-Rama.
Owner: Jeff Greening, Cullman, AL
Car: '34 Chevy Two-Door Sedan
Drivetrain: Chevy 350 and TH350 transmission
We love early-'30s Chevys and so does Jeff. That love (his, not ours) was the motivation behind this smooth and slightly stretched '34, built at Greening Auto Company.
Owner: Gary Hatfield, Canton, TX
Car: '34 Ford Three-Window Coupe
Drivetrain: Chevy 350 and Muncie four-speed transmission
It's no surprise that the Pierson Brothers '34 coupe helped inspire Gary's very traditional chopped and channeled coupe, featuring Pete & Jake's suspension components. (Photo by Damon Lee)
Owner: Jim & Nan Hoffman, Canfield, OH
Car: '37 Chevy Convertible Sedan
Drivetrain: Chevy 350 and TH350 transmission
Jim and Nan's son drew the original concepts for this one-of-a-kind convertible, built from a two-door sedan by Alan Johnson and the owner. Look for a feature soon.
Owner: Ryan Jackson, Carl Junction, MO
Car: '35 Chevy Three-Window Coupe
Drivetrain: Chevy 305 and TH350 transmission
Nineteen-year-old Ryan's homebuilt coupe has been all over R&C lately. Ryan says it was an old stock car and that the rebuild started with a set of fenders his dad won from Old Chicago.
Owner: Doug Kenny, Tampa, FL
Car: '48 Cadillac Convertible
Drivetrain: Lincoln Mk VIII and Lincoln 4R70W transmission
This seven-time Americruise veteran wanted an unusual rod with class, but with reliability and lots of room for future road trips. This stunning Cads abounds with custom touches inside and out. Front and rear suspension is C4 Corvette stuff. (Photo by Rich Chenet)
Owner: George Lange, St. Louis, MO
Car: '32 Ford Roadster
Drivetrain: Chevy 298 small-block and a Powerglide
George states that his goal was to go 200 mph at Bonneville. Mission accomplished: the car holds a record at 203-mph average speed.
Owner: Patrick Magee, Stony Point, NY
Car: '34 Buick Convertible Sedan
Drivetrain: Buick 455 engine and automatic transmission
Only 138 98C convertible phaetons were built in 1934, and Pro's Picks judges couldn't resist this elegant and rare Buick-powered Bufford built by Gray's Garage in Metamora, IL. (Photo by Kevin Lee)
Owner: Harry McFadden, Columbia, SC
Car: '37 Ford Cabriolet
Drivetrain: Chevy LS1 and 4L60E transmission
Harry says it was collector George Poteet who inspired him to do this super smooth '37 roadster, built at Don Jacks. The airbagged, on-the-ground ragtop is a knockout.
Owner: Bill Roberts, Birmingham, AL
Car: '32 Ford
Drivetrain: Chevy LS-7 454 and TH350 transmission
Bill has owned the coupe since 1966 and watched it drag race before that. He drove it all over, then it sat in a basement for 18 years before Johnson's Hot Rod Shop rebuilt it.
Owner: Jack Sheppard, Grovetown, GA
Car: '32 Ford Vicky Speedster
Drivetrain: Chevy 454 and TH350 transmission
We like the Speedstar Vickys, and the two-tone paint on Sheppard's stands out. Paul Atkins matched the colors on the leather interior. The billet five-spokes are from Boyd Coddington.
For information on the upcoming 35th NSRA Street Rod Nationals, contact national Street Rod Association, 4030 Park Ave., Memphis, TN 3811, (901) 452-4030