The Granddaddy of ’em all, 1963

The Granddaddy of ’em all, 1963

“Your dad does NOT work for Popular Hot Rodding,? Jimmy blurted, removing his mitten to point a stubby finger across the kickball diamond. Noticeably offended, the recipient sneered. “I betchya’ a million bucks he does,? he said, brushing the snowflakes off his pea coat. “And you know what? He’s taking me to the Grand National Roadster Show in California…on an airplane. Hear that? C-A-L-I…? There was a pause as the boys face contorted, as if he had swallowed something foul. It soon became clear that although he was indeed going to California, he was unable to spell the 10-letter word. With a unanimous rolling of eyes, the remainder of the class returned to their beloved game of kickball.

The game continued, but Jimmy was jealous of his archenemy’s good fortune. Besides, the Roadster Show was next week, and he had to go. He thought back to Rod & Custom’s coverage of last year’s show, crowning it “The Granddaddy of ‘em all.? How could a hot rodder like him miss something so big? Throughout math and social studies, he sketched plans and devised schemes to find his way to the show. Sales pitches? Booby traps? Or perhaps befriending a group of drifters and riding the rails across the country? Crossing the Rockies will be tough, he thought, but anything is possible. As the school bus dropped him off in front of his house in a plume of soot, he settled on a plan.

When mom called for dinner, Jimmy put down his model kit and shot down the stairs in his Sunday School best, suspenders and all. With impeccable posture, he cleared his throat. “Mom, Dad, may I please go to Oakland’s Grand National Roadster Show?? They looked at each other and smiled. “Absolutely not, honey,? they said in unison. “But…but…all the best cars are going to be there. Darryl Starbird’s Futuristia, Gene Winfield’s Solar Scene, Larry Farber’s Lil’ Coffin, Bill Cushenberry’s Silhouette, the A-Brothers and loads of competition cars all in one big building. Please?? His father lowered his newspaper and glanced at his son. “Stop being ridiculous,? he said sternly. “You’re a kid. You can’t go to all the way to California just to look at some old jalopies. It’s expensive, and besides, you have to be in school. The answer is no, and that’s final.? Defeated, Jimmy slumped into his chair and was silent for the rest of the evening.

The next few days at school were surprisingly relieving for Jimmy, completely void of playground confrontations. But soon enough, a figure in a pea coat trudged his way across the kickball diamond. The game stopped, per usual. Out of his right pocket, he pulled out a manila envelope and handed it to Jimmy without saying a word. Removing his mittens, he pinched the metal tab and peered inside.

In it were five photos photos, in mind-blowing color, allegedly shot by his dad for Popular Hot Rodding.

Three months later, Jimmy was leafing through the May 1963 issue at the drugstore and found the rest of the photos…

GNRS13 GNRS14 GNRS15

So for those of us like Jimmy who can’t make the trek to California for the Grand National Roadster Show, let’s be happy that we have the H.A.M.B to keep us posted on all the action in the coming days. I’ll be watching…will you? 

-Joey Ukrop 

Program via Kustomrama, color photos via Coco Shinomiya’s book Hot Rods & Custom Cars: Vintage Speed Graphics and black and white via Popular Hot Rodding, May 1963

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