Modern Art Deco Masterpiece. “America’s Most Beautiful Roadster” is the title of the big prize at the annual Grand National Roadster Show in Pomona California. This year’s winner is Bruce Wanta’s Mulholland Speedster:
The National Roadster Show is usually dominated by cars squarely within the mainstream of traditional hot rods. Wanta and his builders at Hollywood Hot Rods went in a different direction — the elegant coach-built art deco masterpieces of the mid-1930s. The Mulholland Speedster is loosely based on a 1936 Packard 1401 Coupe (yes, they chopped the top off).
But the basic elements of hot-rodding are there: The power plant is a Lincoln V-12, the windshield frame started out life on a Ford — so the car was definitely put together from lots of sources.
In many ways, the Mulholland Speedster is a very authentic homage to the great coach-built cars of the 1930s (think Delahaye and LeBaron — Lincoln LeBaron from the ’30s, not the horrible Chrysler from the ’70s). It combines a unique and strong over-all aesthetic theme with a single builder’s conception of what’s mechanically right for a very specific car. For instance, this car has an independent rear suspension, something no Packard in it’s original day could have had.
The Mulholland Speedster is yet another sign that a fresh wave of artistic energy that looks to the best from the past is coming into the automotive world.