The event is not scheduled until October, but the competition started several months ago when several hundred ROD & CUSTOM readers stepped up to battle it out in Asphalt Ego-Rama, R&C's annual invitation-only road trip/performance flog. We chose our favorite 20 and left it up to you to pick the six finalists. Today, more than 1,200 ballots later, it comes down to these six cars.
This elite group of reader-selected rods and customs will meet in California in October for a week on the road with the R&C staff. We'll evaluate each car in nine categories: acceleration, braking, cornering, driveability, engineering, people's choice, budget, mileage, and participant attitude. When it's over, one of these rodders will go home the Asphalt Ego-Rama 2004 Champion, along with the glory, honor, and cheap trophy that accompanies such victory.
Who will it be? You will find complete and exclusive coverage of Asphalt Ego-Rama IV in the April 2005 issue of R&C.
Help Us Pick The Winner
You can help determine the winner of the Asphalt Ego-Rama shootout. Competitors will spend Saturday, October 9 in Pismo Beach, California, at the 2nd Annual Woodies & Rods Show held on the pier. Everyone in attendance at this great car show will have the chance to vote for their favorite Asphalt Ego-Rama car.
Woodies & Rods is open to all pre-1989 woodies, rods, customs, and classics. For more information, visit the Central Coast Car Shows website at www.centralcoastcarshows.com.
Ross Roloff's '39 Plymouth Coupe
Ross bought the Plymouth more than 20 years ago, moving it from "shed to shed and barn to barn" before finally finishing it last year. Built by the owner (with help from his family) in his home shop, the project took 5 years. "But," Ross insisted, "I only worked on it at night and on weekends during deer hunting season." But the pretty paint, power windows, stock bench seat and woodgrain dash can fool you. Under the hood lies an 454 Rat motor with a roller cam, Ross pistons, and a Demon 850 carburetor. Then we find out that Ross was a fabricator and machinist building racecars for Bemco Engineering from 1972 to 1984. Think any of that experience has trickled into the build-up of this fat-fendered Plymouth? Wait and see.
Willie Martin's '55 Chevy Sedan
This '55 150 Sedan has been in Willie's family since 1964 when his father, a professional mechanic, bought it for $150 and overhauled it for use as a loan car at his garage. Willie got the '55 in 1970 and worked on it for 3 years before he was old enough to drive it to and from high school everyday. In the years since then, it has had a variety of Chevy small-blocks, and has been through more adventures than Paris Hilton and Bullwinkle combined. After burning up the engine racing in 1979, Willie parked the '55 until 1983, when he sold it. He bought it back in 1992, and rebuilt it after an accident in 1997. It now runs a ZZ4 crate motor with Edelbrock injection and a Paxton blower. Willie says the car is almost finished.
Kris Elmer's '31 Ford Coupe
Believe it or not, Kris originally set out to build a mainstream street rod--small-block, wide tires, custom rims, the whole package. A trip to the Hot Rod Reunion in Bakersfield took his taste into a more old-timey direction. Kris bought the car from an old couple, who had it in their backyard for years. The husband believed he would one day build the car, until the wife buried it in dirt and planted flowers all around it. After chopping the top, he decided that his daily driven '31 five window "needed more grrr," and stuffed it with a '51 331 Hemi. In his youth, Kris drag raced a '67 Camaro and held the state record for e.t. and top speed for a while. He says hot rods are fun and he gets a lot of thumbs up, "especially from police officers."
Bob Klessig's '52 Chevy Convertible
Bob originally thought Ego-Rama was more for hot rods than customs. Our readers disagreed and voted his dark green '52 ragtop (once a hardtop) into our six-car field. The '50s-style custom wasn't quite finished when Bob sent in his application, and doesn't even have a windshield in his originally submitted photos. After four years, it's done and ready to run. It's the only six-cylinder car (a 292 I-6 with a 200-4R trans) in the competition, and Bob's been down-playing the car's capabilities. "It's heavy so I probably won't do well in the braking or acceleration tests. I am sure it won't excel in the handling competition as it is built as a cruiser." Is he really that modest or just talking that way before pulling out all the stops during competition?
Herman Gantt's '53 Studebaker Coupe
Serious Studebaker fan Herman Gantt has owned a bunch of them over the years, including the pair he bought for $600 in October 1997. "People just shook their heads as if to say there is no way I could restore either one," he remembers. This '53 Champion coupe is one of those two Studes, treated to a body-off build-up than included transplanting a 350 Chevy small-block and Turbo 400 automatic transmission, four-wheel disc brakes and too many mechanical mods to list. Herman did all the bodywork and mechanical chores himself, finishing the car early in 1999. He hit a deer on his first road trip in the car, but his luck has been improving since then. Since he sent us this photo, he has replaced the 17-inch '96 Corvette rims.
Don Dillard's '30 Ford Coupe
It's unusual to go to a West Coast event and not see Don's red-oxide primered '30 Ford coupe somewhere on the grounds. He built the car himself and has been driving it regularly for seven years. A year ago when the full-fendered coupe was selected as a participant for Asphalt Ego-Rama '03, Don went through the entire car in preparation for the event--swapping heads, tuning up the 327 small-block, and making some test runs on the strip. He showed up ready to compete, but never got the chance. He's back for year's event, which means he's had 12 months to continue getting his coupe in fighting shape. It's a beater by his own admission, but we'll find out who gets beat and who does the beating at Ego-Rama '04.