Bam! 2018 Sacramento Autorama “Big B” Award Winners Revealed

Forget about tofu, sustainability or political correctness and make way for the caravan of “deplorables” that descended on the Cal Expo Fairgrounds this weekend in Sacramento.

The West Coast’s top automotive Da Vinci’s rumbled in and showed off their candy-coated, metalflake dreamboats at the 68th Sacramento Autorama. O’Reilly Auto Parts was once again the emcee of this famous hot rod hootenanny and a good time was had by all.

Reputed to be the longest-running indoor car show in the world, this year’s party included over 400 custom cars, hot rods, sleds, bicycles and motorcycles from across the country. They battled it out for dozens of awards in various classifications. Nor-Cal is arguabley the “Kustom Capitol Of The World” and was an extemely influential force in the golden era of post-World War II custom cars. More so than So-Cal in many respects.

Something for everyone here at the Autorama...

Although times have changed, you can still feel energy of George Barris, “Baggy” Bagdasarian, Joe Bailon and Dick Bertolucci tingling in the air. New stars, like Dave Kindig, Oz Welch and Lucky 7 Customs have been more than able to take the torch and move the hobby to incredible new heights.

Live music, celebrity appearances, vendor booths and special exhibits ensured there was fun for everyone. In addition to the hundreds of vehicles competing for awards, the Butch Gardner Clubhouse at the Cal Expo Pavilion, and outdoor Autorama Drive-In were packed with local cars on Saturday and Sunday.

Autorama was the brainchild of late Sacramento businessman Harold Bagdasarian in 1950. As president of the local Capitol City Auto Club Thunderbolts, he talked club members into hosting a show to debate the merits of their custom cruisers.

The first show, held at a downtown Sacramento auto dealership in 1950, had a whopping 22 entries. Bagdasarian kept at it and the show slowly grew in recognition, attendance and prestige.

Since then, businessman John Buck took over the show  in 2005 and runs it and other automotive gatherings under the business name Rod Shows.

For many, the “Big B” awards are the most anticipated. We don’t pity the judges and even though they’re “certified,” we suspect there isn’t a harder job in the world.

So here are the four “Big B” winners for 2018.

2018 H.A. Bagdasarian “World’s Most Beautiful Custom” Winner

Lucky 7 Customs and Clifford Mattis take the H.A. Bagdasarian “Worlds’s Most Beautiful Custom” with “Dillinger, a 1941 Buick Sedanette. We we’re disappointed it didn’t do better at GNRS, but all’s well that ends well. Along with their 1960 Ford Crew Cab Pickup “Thor,” Lucky 7 Customs stole the show. Congrats guys!

2018 Sam Barris Award Winner

The Sam Barris Memorial Award is a love letter to the late customizing trailblazer. Along with brother George Barris – the late maker of numerous handcrafted movies and TV series  cars – the midwest natives moved to Roseville and helped ignite the sun soaked, California custom-car craze.

Sam Barris must be grinning up in heaven…Ron Berry’s “Surf Seeker” was a scene stealer. 72′ wheelbase, 2275cc blown engine, and 24″ Panther Wheels wrapped in 35 Kuhmo Tires. Roger Rabbit, your Toon Town VDub bus is ready! We talked to Ron at the show and he was thrilled. Imagine joining the legendary builders memorialized on the Sam Barris plaque? With a Vollswagen no less…

The 2018 Joe Bailon Award Winner

Bailon Award recognizes Joe “Candy Apple Red” Bailon, the Northern California customizer who created the color that became synonymous with his name.

Another car that almost won big at GNRS, hit the big time in Sacramento winning the Joe Bailon award. Mike and Rita Garner’s 1951 Merc was all smooth curves and silky, sparkling paint. Nicknamed  “American Dream,” it was running a 1949 Cadillac mill, tri-power manifold, Stromberg carbs, paint by Unique Twist, and completed by builder Richie Valles.

The Dick Bertolucci Automotive Excellence Award Winner – Kindig Design 

Presented to the car with the best craftsmanship in assembly, fit, finish and detail – it’s a tribute to the longtime owner of Bertolucci’s Body and Fender Shop in Sacramento. Decades ago, Bertolucci established a national reputation as a big kahuna car restorer, and his personal car collection was vast and impressive.

 

Owners Richard and Bonnie Cox, Dave Kindig and Kevdogg rack up another big win. They took Outstanding Overall – Sports / Sports Compact at GNRS and then scooped up The Bertolucci Award.  Lingenfelter motor, huge redline gumballs, and signature flawless build quality sealed the deal. Along with big, blue “Maybellene” winning Best Custom at the 2018 GNRS, Kindig-It Design adds another feather to their cap.

We led the article with a snappy quip that mirrors the crazy time in which we live.

As the 2018 Sacramento Autorama comes to an end, we part ways with the following thoughts. Not only do the forefathers of custom cars whisper to us in the sparkle of chrome, glimmer of a candy flake scallop and musical tones of a snorous, baritone exhaust, but the hobby bristles and crackles with new life and energy. The new superstar builders and the the guys at the outdoor show killed it this year and the hobby is in tender loving hands.

The best part? The show it is the great equalizer. Blue collar, white color, race, creed or nationality is irrelevant. The woes of the world melt away–even if just for a short time–and we commune with  our fellow gearheads, sometimes silently, in a unconditional communion of spirits.

And that’s a beautiful thing.

Thanks to Rod Shows for creating that arena.

See you next year…

About the author

Dave Cruikshank

Dave Cruikshank is a lifelong car enthusiast and an Editor at Power Automedia. A zealous car geek since birth, he digs lead sleds, curvy fiberglass, kustoms and street rods. He currently owns a '95 Corvette, '76 Cadillac Seville, '99 LS1 Trans Am and big old Ford Van.
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