Nostalgia-fueled custom car show, auction returning to Houston
Houston’s biggest custom car and hot rod celebration returns to the George R. Brown next week.
The O’Reilly Auto Parts AutoRama, a Thanksgiving tradition for car nuts, opens Thursday afternoon and shuts down Sunday night. More than 450 customs, trucks, hot rods, race cars and motorcycles are expected to be on display.
One of the must-see specimens is “Stampede,” a dazzling 1969 Mustang Mach 1 owned by Juan and Marisela Martinez of Houston.
“My first car was a ’69 Mustang and I’ve had 10 or 12 through the years – always ’69s or ’70s,” Martinez said. “I met my wife in a Mustang and we’ve been married 38 years. I have a 1970 Mach 1 Twister Special and I bought this car in March of 2010 for her. But then we started doing things to it and it kind of got out of hand.”
He handed the Mach 1 over to GAP Racing and for the next five years the northwest Houston restoration shop customized Martinez’s fastback, which was a finalist for this year’s coveted Ridler Award, the custom-car universe’s equivalent to the Oscar for best picture.
GAP’s Tim Palazzolo said Stampede sports a carbon fiber front end, Ford’s legendary Boss 429 V8 that displaces 572 cubic inches and produces more than 900 horsepower and rolls on custom-designed 20-inch wheels. Painthouse of Cypress created Stampede’s eye-searing blue paint.
But high-dollar show cars aren’t the only draw. On Friday and Saturday, for the fifth year in a row, San Antonio-based Dan Kruse Classics will manage the traditional auction of cars and other collectibles. A sample of available machines, including a 1970 Mustang Mach 1 sportsroof and a 1965 Pontiac GTO Tri-Power, can be found at http://bit.ly/1YdEmW5
“Every year it’s grown and just gotten better and better,” said Tiffany Kruse. auction coordinator. “There are lot of really cool Porsches this year, including a 1987 930, 1960 356B convertible, 1967 911R tribute and a 1973 911 Targa.”
Hobbyists, tinkerers and restorers can also find parts, wheels, tires, tools and auto memorabilia at the swap meet and toy show.
On Friday, an “outdoor AutoRama” cruise-in along the south end of the GRB is set for 10 a.m. Summit Racing is supporting the return of legendary hot-rod builder Gene Winfield. The metal-working pioneer will demonstrate some of the techniques used to lower a custom car’s roofline. Visitors will also have an opportunity to meet entertainment celebrities such as former WWE champion and superstar Daniel Bryan or sitcom star Laura Marano. who portrays songwriter Ally Dawson in Disney Channel ‘s “Austin Ally.” (See complete lineup and details at https://autorama.com/attend/houston)
The AutoRama, which will be celebrating its 56th anniversary in Houston, is not just about cars, Palazzolo noted.
“AutoRama has been a family tradition ever since I can remember,” he said. Palazzolo caught the car bug from his dad George, who started an auto shop that evolved into GAP Racing. “Since I was a kid, we would make our way down to the show right after Thanksgiving dinner or lunch, since it was always scheduled around the opening of the show.
“This year is very important to me,” Palazzolo said. “Not just because we are bringing Stampede, but I am now married and have a 7-month-old. So it is time for me to start our own family tradition. Plus it’s a hometown show. The car has been to shows all over – Detroit, Chicago and Las Vegas – none of which my wife and child could attend.”
2015 O’Reilly Auto Parts AutoRama
Adult admission is $18; children 6-12 are $4.99; five-year-olds and younger are free. If you are close to an O’Reilly Auto Parts store, you can save some money. The stores have adult tickets for $16 and children’s for $4.
George R. Brown Convention Center, 1001 Avenida de las Americas.
Thursday, Nov. 26, from 3 to 8 p.m.
Friday and Saturday, Nov. 27-28, from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Sunday, Nov. 29, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
2015 O’Reilly Auto Parts AutoRama