Americas Most Beautiful Roadster award for 2017 goes to 1936 Packard named The Mulholland Speedster owned by Bruce Wanta. Designed by Eric Black and wonderfully hand-built by Troy Ladd and his crew at Hollywood Hot Rods in Burbank California.
The oldest ongoing Hot Rod and Custom Car show, the Grand National Roadster show has been awarding a huge trophy, but more than that a very prestigious America’s Most Beautiful Roadster award sine 1950. From the very beginning this award has been an award high on the bucket list of many Car builders. In general this award goes to the most beautiful Hot Rod or Street Rod roadster, but since the last decade or so we have seen more and more Custom orientated cars being entered to compete for the AMBR. 2017 is a new milestone in the history of the GNRS AMBR event when Bruce Wanta’s 1936 Packard Roadster wins the top award, the famous 10-foot trophy.
When the 2017 68th Annual Grand National Roadster Show opened its doors for the contenders of the event, and the competitors of for the AMBR award on Wednesday January 25th the talk of the day was about the Mulholland Speedster. And especially about if it could win the prestigious award as a full Custom. For the past couple of years we have seen a major shift in the winners of the AMBR. The winners were looking like real traditional Hot Rods again. For many years many of the top award winners were high dollar street roddish cars that had no ties to the original Hot Rod scene other than perhaps the pure base of the cars. The entries for this year were all mostly traditional style cars inspired by several era’s of the Hot Rodding history. And one of them was one inspired by the Coachbuilt cars from the mid 1930’s. Lets hope this will set a new trend and more Custom oriented entries will be created for the future AMBR competition.
The Mulholland Speedster
The Mulholland Speedster is based on an 1936 Packard Roadsters, but is largely couch built by Troy Ladd and his crew at Hollywood Hot Rods in Brubank California from a design by Eric Black . The car is owned by Bruce Wanta of Bellevue, Washington. The car was built over a period of several years. Starting with a series of design studies created by Eric Black collaborating with Troy Ladd. One the basic design was approved on a full size rendering created by Eric Black was printed and the work for the real car was planned.
Most of the car is hand built at the Hollywood Hot Rods shop with the body created out of 1-gauge steel, all metal finished. In 2015 the Mulholland Speedster was displayed at the GNRS mostly done but still in bare polished metal. The car had everybody talking at the show and for a very long period after that. After the show the car went back to the Hollywood Hot Rods shop to be taken apart completely for more detail work. The car is designed as a mid 30’s Coachbuilt Custom, inspired by the famous Coachbuilt cars from that era. But underneath the car was built with all the modern touches and techniques one can think of.
One of the key features of this car was the plan was to create a metal lift off top that would disappear into the trunk (Retractable hardtop), very much like one done back in 1938 by Peugot. This require a lot of engineering, careful construction and some compromised had to be made to make it all work and the top to disappear into the trunk. To lift the bar even further the idea was to make it all operate using electric motors, and to operate it using your smartphone with a custom designed app. This app controls all the electronics on the Mulholland Speedster, including opening and closing the Packard winter grille, hood sides and suspension.
The car was mostly built at the Hollywood Hot Rods Shop in Burbank California, and the wonderful paint work, in a custom mixed Mulholland Merlot, was performed by Mick Jenkins at M.G.J. Enterprises. The interior was created by Mark Lopez at Elegance Auto Interiors.
Not only the car itself is spectacular. The way the car was displayed and the display itself was in something very special. Car owner Bruce Wanta wanted to display the car in such a way that car could be enjoyed for the coachbuilt custom, with the perfect stance, but at the same time he also wanted to show the amazing work done on the drivetrain of the car. He came up with the idea of a split level display. One side of the car could be experienced as a car sitting on the floor all closed up, while the other side could be inspected with all the details underneath and inside. Eric Black helped out with the design aspects of this great display concept.
Special thanks to Hot Rod magazine, Rob Radcliffe, Howard Gribble, Eric Black and Hollywood Hot Rods for the photo material.