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Event Coverage

Blackie's Beauties

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  • The Winged Express, a ’59 Sedan Delivery Biscayne owned by Larry Weiner, is loaded with a supercharged LS-2 Corvette engine that blasts out more than 700 horses. - 1
  • Orange juice—Mike Jonas of Stainless Steel Brakes squeezed a RamJet 350 into a customized ’47 Ford. - 2
  • Can you spot the ’39 Ford in this sleek Coupester? Called Phenomenon, it hails from the heartland of Iowa, built by Street Toys by Thieker (www.street-toys.com). - 3
  • Blackie regular John D’Agostino rocked and rolled with “Elvis”, and ’59 Cadillac named after the King. - 4
  • If you had any doubts about the caliber of cars at Blackie’s, here the proof: Impression, a’36 Ford built by for Ken Reister, won trophies at both the Ridler and America’s Most Beautiful Roadster shows. - 5
  • The Kirkham family is known for its exacting aluminum-body Cobra reproductions. The sheetmetal for this brilliant ’40 Ford, though is made from copper. - 6
  • “Ruby Girl” is a lovely ’48 Woodie Wagon. - 7
  • One of two in existence, the Blastolene bristles with that Indy-style look of extreme speed. - 8
  • Mercury “lead sleds” are a regular fixture at Blackie’s, but this green ’51 takes the popular custom to a whole new level. - 9
  • Next to the ’54 DeSoto Adventurer concept car is a ’50 Ford Woodie with a modern twist: it’s powered by a blow Corvette LS-1 mounted in a C-4 Corvette chassis. Owner Scott Ehrke credits his wife Janet with providing project therapy, who kept on encouraging him every time he tried to give up on such a challenging project. - 10
  • Named after the dry lake famous for hot rodding, Muroc is a ’32 Ford that’s beautiful from every angle. - 11
  • Danny Santoro’s ’32 was treated to an unusual yet striking, rust-and-cream color scheme. - 12
  • Every vehicle on display gets a trophy, and even the rank-and-file ones are four feet tall. - 13
  • Orange Crusher pays homage to a number of early cars, with period treatment such as the Moon coolant reservoir tank on the nose, and race-style exhaust headers for the blown 350 Chevy. - 14
  • Themed displays are one of the real treats at Blackie’s. - 15
  • Check out the hot licks on this flamed ’39 Ford roadster owned by Erik Solorio. - 16
  • Here’s a rarity: a ’49 Olds speedster, customized by Terry Henry of Sacramento, California. - 17
  • Got chrome? Check out the grille on this olive green ’48 Buick. Not only that, it won the show award for Best Custom. - 18
  • Got the blues? This ’50 Merc from Pueblo, Colorado is as bright as they get. - 19
  • Sweet! This low-slung Pistachio-colored custom with a whipped-cream top started life as a ’57 Chevy four door. - 20
  • That thing got a Hemi? - 21
  • The ’39 Ford Cabriolet, Orange Blossom Special, is just that, with an LT-1 Vette engine. - 22
  • Not all rods are red. Here’s a silver and green ’36 Phaeton from Fred Davies of Aspen, Colorado - 23
  • Following the street rod standard that too much is just about right, this ’32 Ford 5-window coupe has a 502-cube, big-block Chevy stuffed under that folding hood. - 24
  • Looks like a street rod, but it’s actually a truck customized by Pacific Coast Customs. - 25
  • For 47 years, Blackie Gejeian has personally picked each and every entrant. - 26
  • Is that streamlined enough for you? Aptly named, the Led Zephyr is a gentle breeze of styling on a ’39 Lincoln. - 27
  • Aircraft enthusiasts will recognize the Gee Bee paint scheme on this ’32 Ford, owned by Ron Fuller of Gilbert, Arizona. - 28
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by Steve Temple  More from Author

Anybody Who’s Anybody Makes the Scene at the Fresno Autorama

There are parties you can crash, and then there are parties where you need an engraved invitation just to get your foot in the door. The same is true of street rod shows. At Blackie’s, officially called the Fresno Autorama, don’t even attempt to enter your rod. That’s because the show committee, consisting of a single person, namely Blackie Gejeian, personally invites each and every vehicle, a select collection of about 200 in all at this year’s event, held at the Fresno Convention Center in mid-March.  He’s been giving his show this sort of personal touch since its inception 47 years ago.

In order to be recognized as an entrant, Blackie travels all around the country, cherry-picking the best of the best, sifting through more than 40,000 candidates. And when it comes time to roll the crème de la crème of cars into the Fresno Convention Center, he gives the layout and placement of each one his individual attention. No detail goes unnoticed, so the overall layout is just so. Like a good host, he knows that presentation is everything when it comes to entertaining guests in a grand style. 

Fittingly, all of the vehicles on display get a trophy, and not just some little mantle piece, but a mammoth 48-incher that’s taller than many of the vehicles on display. And the best in show winners each receive a trophy that almost requires its own trailer to take home.

All of which means that among street rod aficionados, getting the nod from Blackie is an extraordinary privilege, like getting a lifetime achievement award. It’s the brass ring of street rodding. So the next time you display your rod at a show, if a guy named Blackie hands you an invitation, don’t toss it. You’ve just been asked to attend the ultimate street rod soiree.

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