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How special is Hollywood Hot RodsMulholland Speedster? You could say it’s twice as special as any car ever made. The ’36 Packard-based Speedster won America’s Most Beautiful Roadster in January at the Grand National Roadster Show in Pomona, then they hauled it up to the Sacramento Autorama for last weekend’s show and it won there, too. And it not only won the headliner Custom d’Elegance award but also the World’s Most Beautiful Custom award. So yes, it’s pretty special.

The Sacramento Autorama has been held every year for 67 years, one of the longest-running car shows on the planet. This year organizers said there were over 650 cars, trucks, motorcycles, hot rods and street cruisers in the show. Of those, the majority went home with at least one trophy, as there were 400 of those handed out.

But the biggest and most prestigious is the Custom d’Elegance, awarded to the best chopped, channeled and/or sectioned vehicle from 1935-1948, the golden era for custom cars. The Mulholland Speedster was all that –- and less. Troy Ladd, whose Hollywood Hot Rods built the Speedster for owner Bruce Wanta, estimates the car is about ¾ the size of the Packard from whence it was derived (that would be a 1936 Packard 1401 Coupe, powered by a Lincoln Zephyr V12). 

John D’Agostino’s 1958 Packard, “Rita”

John D’Agostino’s 1958 Packard, “Rita”

John D’Agostino’s 1958 Packard, “Rita,” was crowned “King of the Kustoms” at the same show, an award that recognizes the best 1935-1964 custom build with a particular focus on body lines, design, flow and quality of workmanship.

“The best thing about the Sacramento Autorama is that it gives custom builders a place to show off their vision of how they feel these classics should have looked originally,” said John Buck, owner of Rod Shows and producer of both the Sacramento Autorama and the Grand National Roadster Show. “This year’s winners were shining examples of that. Troy Ladd’s history-making win as the first builder to ever win both the ‘Custom d’Elegance’ and ‘America’s Most Beautiful Roadster’ titles. It shows just how amazing his ‘Mullholland Speedster’ really is.”

The “Sam Barris Memorial Award” was picked by the Barris family for best metal work, alignment of body panels, and paint. This year the Barris family chose – you guessed it – Troy Ladd’s Packard. The Joe “Candy Apple Red” Bailon Award was designed, created, and handpicked by Joe Bailon who is known as one of the nation’s premier custom car designers and builders. This year it went to Joe and Carol Cusumano for their 1954 Mercury named “Tangerine On Ice.”

The Dick Bertolucci Automotive Excellence Award for a vehicle manufactured before 1973 that Dick Bertolucci personally felt exhibited the best craftsmanship in assembly, fit and finish, and detail was Michael McAuliffe’s 1940 Ford Sedan called “The Second Time Around.”

Now attention turns to another great custom show, this weekend’s Detroit Autorama, held at Cobo Center Feb. 24-26. Who will win that? Stay tuned.