Great thread! I’ve enjoyed the various reactions to this car and have been surprised a bit by the strength of emotion it has triggered. AMBR winners have always reflected the prevailing trend in state-of-the-art rod building at the time. The 1950 winner, the Niekamp roadster pictured above, was a serious, bucks-up piece of kit at that time, with it’s fabricated aluminum track nose and full bellypan and full house flattie under the hood. When Fad-T’s were the fad, Fad-T’s won the AMBR. When show rods were all the rage the hot rod equivalent of a show rod would win.
This year the Traditional movement may appear to have broken through, but not before 20 years of trying. Elements of this style have shown themselves among the AMBR’s of recent years, but not to this level of purity. The Rodder’s Journal style modern recreation of a traditional postwar hot rod has finally achieved its AMBR win. But this style of building has been around since it emerged in the final decade of the last century. It is a reaction against the hi-tech excellence first launched by the late Lil’ John Buttera and the late Boyd Coddington at the end of the 70’s; a trend that would establish itself with a vengeance in the next decade and come to be known, unfortunately, as “Billet”. Buttera, Coddington, and their contemporaries made a conscious attempt to propel rod building into a more technically and stylistically modern idiom. As recently as last year this trend still informed the aesthetic of AMBR winners. The result, inevitably, was a longing for a more “roots” experience, an emerging trend documented in the pages of TRJ. 2013 marks the emergence of this trend onto the very top step of the hobby’s hierarchy of recognition. (But not before authentic restorations of historic rods and customs have been shown on multiple occasions at Pebble Beach.)
This years’ AMBR, like most years, represents the current establishment in the rodding world. Longtime traditional rod re-creation and restoration enthusiast John Mumford bankrolled this “continuation” of a 30 year old project started by Kelly Brown. Roy Brizio’s shop (rod builders to the stars, much as Barris was in his day) built it, mainly from scratch, except for the more obvious bits like the beyond-rare Ardun V8-60 heads. It was even a bare-metal feature a couple of issues back in TRJ. It seems to me that Brizio and Mumford knew what they were on to since they totally nailed the color (an evocation of Ford Honduras Maroon, a popular customizer’s color on either side of WWII) and trim. It’s instructive to compare this car with last year’s AMBR which was, highly significantly, also a ‘27T style track roadster, in that case built by Jimmy Shine and Pete Chapouris. Shine and Chapouris are also members of the Traditional establishment, but didn’t quite “turn the corner” into such a hard core build as this one.
Personally, as much as I love traditional rods (they are at this point the only style of car I model), I feel myself longing for the day we will be able to take the lessons we learned from Buttera, Coddington, et al, and blend them with the powerful beauty, the near perfection of form and function, of this exquisite little car, and create a new idiom. The Aluma Coupe was a spectacularly brilliant piece of design and engineering, the Boydsters a brave experiment in creating a New Age rodding idiom which unfortunately got grotesquely played out in the ensuing years. As Bill has pointed out, scale modeling gives us the means to start this journey on a modest budget. Let us begin!
The Bill Lindig "indy" Roadster - 2012 AMBR Winner
Edited by Bernard Kron, 02 February 2013 - 05:24 PM.