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America’s Most Beautiful Roadster The Martin Special 1931 Ford

HOT ROD logo HOT ROD 1/29/2018 Brian Brennan

01-2018-grand-national-roadster-show-ambr-winner-1931-ford-roadster-martin America’s Most Beautiful Roadster The Martin Special 1931 Ford

While it is called the 69th Annual Grand National Roadster Show held at the Pomona Fairplex in Southern California it has been around for 70 years and each year has proven to be as much or more exciting than the year before. Last year the winner was an exercise in styling and beauty while this year the winner is an exercise in form following function, which loosely interpreted means, "The shape of an object should primarily relate to its intendedfunction or purpose". And the 1931 Ford highboy roadster, titled the Martin Special, exceeds its goals.

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Belonging to Dave Martin, no stranger to the world of hot rodding, had the good sense to bring his project to Scott Bonowski of Hot Rod and Hobbies, located on the historic landmark area called Signal Hill, California. Being awarded America's Most Beautiful Roadster (AMBR) award, a 10-foot trophy and a $10,000 check, clearly sends a signal just how impressive this current effort is.

There were 15 roadsters in competition and the competition was stiff. There were some historical cars that clearly became sentimental favorites. There is Bruce Meyers Nickle roadster (1932 Ford) that's been around for nearly 30 years (beautifully reconditioned without destroying anything that displayed its greatness from the early '90s). Championing the historic aspect of our hobby is the Eddie Dyer (1929 Ford) roadster brought back to life from its debut on the cover of Hop Up in 1952 by the craftsman at Circle City Hot Rods under the guidance of Jimmy White. As far as roadsters that are on the cutting edge of craftsmanship there is the 1936 Ford owned by Dana Elrod and built under the capable hands and eyes of Dale Boesch out of Nebraska.

There was plenty of competition and the judges had their work cut out for them but in the end it was the Martin Special (1931 Ford Model A highboy roadster) took home the honors for its overall craftsmanship and its honoring of its themea hot rod capable of performing with the world's best. What you see in these pictures is the third iteration, which began back in 1982. The roadster clearly has a mid-'50s Indy race car theme but with copious amounts of today's performance. The roadster even found itself onto the pages of Street Rodder (which will once again feature the car in an upcoming issue) twice before, once in February of 1986 and then again May of 2006.

To prove its performance heritage it was run at the Silver State Classic competition in Nevada running at 100-plus miles per hour for 60-plus minutes. Talk about getting ones attention!

There is a great deal to talk about on this roadster and over time we will cover its multi-faceted build. There are a few signature pieces on this roadster with one of the prominent pieces being the artfully crafted and built headers. Jereome Rodela of Rodela Specialty Fabrication in Temple City, California received the nod to carefully shape the slowing tube headers. Look long enough at the stainless steel headers and exhaust and you will ask yourself, "How in the hell did he do that!"

The potent small-block Chevy (401 cubic inches) comes by way of Tom Malloy of Ed Pink Racing Engines registering 500hp and 493 lb-ft of torque. Motor sports Brodix aluminum heads, Edelbrock Victor aluminum intake (modified), and a modified Borla Eight Stack EFI with Edelbrock electronics. The power is then moved rearward through the manual TEMEC trans to the Speedway Engineering quick-change rearend.

The race car inspired interior was stitched by Mark Lopez of Elegance Auto Interiors with other interior appointments coming from Shannon Hudson of Red Line Gauge Works. The gauges are designed for time trials and other racing needs resting behind the four-spoke sprint car steering wheel.

Some of the suspension intricacies come from the capable hands of Steve Moal of Moal Coach Builders who crafted the center axle mount located under the radiator (eliminating the Panhard bar). Also used is rack and pinion steering. The wheelbase was lengthened and the trade widened. The chassis with its torsion bar front end is reminiscent of a Frank Curtis racing chassis of the '50sit worked beautifully then as it does to this day.

While the body covers the chassis from the topside the underside is wrapped in a full aluminum belly pan complete with seven blisters allowing for the various suspension intrusions. There are also 96 louvers throughout the underside.

Speaking of louvers there are 89 on the Model A decklid and while the gas cap is visible through the trunk lid it is actually mounted beneath and pokes through.

There is so much more to write about that we will be saving a good portion of the whys and wherefores for the articles to come. Street Rodder also has photos of this car in metal and will be part of the final feature. So, if you have ever wondered what goes on beneath America's Most Beautiful Roadster, well, hang on as we are going to show you!

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