We lived to tell about it. So did the contestents… Well, most of them, anyway. Some are probably still laying awake at night trying to figure out how they could have done better at the dragstrip, the fuel mileage test, the driving test, or the show ’n’ shine. Then there was the dreaded Just Because category—were you part of the fun or part of the problem?

We scored all that and more as we hit the road with nine cars that you, the R&C readers, voted for in the August ’01 issue of the magazine. We originally had 10, but the 10th guy, plus several alternates, bailed out at the last minute.

Still, there was a good variety of cars competing in a shootout the likes of which the rodding world had never seen. We left Wendover, Utah, just after Bonneville Speed Week and spent 11 days evaluating each car’s performance in dragstrip acceleration, braking, mileage, roadworthiness, engineering, ride quality, show ’n’ shine, and cost (the cheaper, the better). Along the way we saw the Bonneville Salt Flats, the Grand Tetons, Yellowstone, lots of desert, and the Goodguys Nationals in Pleasanton. We met up with freaks, friends, and fogies, spent a day with Tex Smith, and visited the incredible vintage Ford collection of Louis Cote. The group became a family, and it was mostly good times with just an edge of competition. We were a bit unorganized in spots, but overall, the shootout went down pretty much as we’d hoped. The staff had a great time, and we owe huge thanks not only to our generous sponsors, but also to the participants who went to great trouble to put their cars and their egos on the line as the first-ever Ego-Rama guinea pigs. As rod builder Dave Lane put it, “These guys almost have more to lose than they do to gain, and it takes real guts to join such a public competition.” True, but they all gained new friends, great stories, and a killer roadtrip. They all had a great time.

Well, most of ’em anyway.

Check out the competitors in the sidebars below.