Hot-Rod Hottie: LS1-Powered ’32 Ford Is America's Most Beautiful Roadster
The 71st Annual Grand National Roadster Show is in the books, which means the America's Most Beautiful Roadster award has been handed out. This year proved no different than in years past, with another spectacular-looking hot rod taking home the honors.
For 2020, Monty Belsham with his 1932 Ford highboy roadster built at Squeeg's Kustoms took home the 9.5-foot-tall AMBR trophy and accompanying $12,500 check sponsored by ARP (the hardware people). The Muroc body and chassis started life out under the ownership of Nick Barron and it was initially built at Angie's Auto Center. The original bodywork and red paint were handled at Mike's Street Rods. In time, Belsham purchased the car and wanted to make it his own with a full complement of changes. He took the car and his ideas to Doug Jerger of Squeeg's in Chandler, Arizona, and the odyssey began.
The Kugel Muroc is a steel body (Kugel Komponents #4 of 10 that came from the ultimate metal men at Marcel's Custom Metal) with a Kugel chassis that features their independent front and rear suspensions with coil-over dampers and Corvette brakes at the corners. The roadster was then repainted utilizing PPG black with orange and red flames licking from the grille shell (with a Dan Fink insert) to just past the doors. The roadster features a handmade metal top made from aluminum and features 3/8-inch chrome trim around the opening, all crafted by Matt Tomb out of Phoenix.
Power for the roadster comes by way of an LS1 topped off with Hilborn stacked EFI injection and linked to a 4L60-E overdrive transmission. The V-8 is well detailed utilizing a great deal of polishing from Russel's Custom Polishing. As mentioned earlier, the chassis is a Kugel, and it rolls on one-off wheels wrapped with Dunlap SP Sport rubber.
Inside, the lipstick-red leather was stitched by Gabe Lopez at Gabe's Street Rods Custom Interiors. A set of bucket seats and a center console give the hot rod additional distinctive traits in keeping with its blend of traditional and contemporary appearance. As is the case with any high-quality custom interior build, owner Belsham was brought in several times during the process for fittings to ensure he would be as comfortable as possible—especially on the long drives this Highboy will undoubtedly see. (The roadster already has 3,000 miles on the odometer.) Other interior features include Dakota Digital digital/analog gauges and a tilt steering wheel resembling a vintage banjo wheel. The center console houses the custom shifter as well as a digital readout.
That sums up 2020's America's Most Beautiful Roadster, although it does little to do justice to the piles of work put into this gorgeous car. We'll end on this final note: The 75th Anniversary of the Grand National Roadster Show is in 2024, and plans are underway to celebrate with an exhibit of all past AMBR winners, all together and all in one building for the first time. The search is underway to locate the current whereabouts and owners of several cars. If you have a lead on any of the winners, please contact Karpo Murkjanian at firstname.lastname@example.org.