The Sacramento Autorama

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We've often fired off random missives that blast our hometown of Sacramento. It's too big, sprawling and expensive with too few offered cultural opportunities for such a large place. But that said, our Sacto-native, multiple-Deuce-owning uncle Noel couldn't believe it when we told him that we'd most likely never move back there, commenting, "I'd never live anywhere else!" But the fact is, the town does have a few things going for it. The Sacramento Bee is probably the second-best paper in California. The Kings are a good basketball team. It's got two lovely rivers, quite a few great restaurants and a large number of trees, some important history (Gold Rush, railroad barons, etc.) and the summer nights can be so unbelievably amazing that you'd think you ate an eclair and gone to heaven. More importantly, it's the place where George and Sam Barris got their start and it's home of one of the oldest hot rod and custom car shows in the nation: The Sacramento Autorama.

Founded 56 years ago, the Autorama is the 2nd-oldest indoor car show in the country, narrowly being nipped out of the title by what was then known as the National Roadster Show, colloquially known as "Oakland" and for years played second-banana to its slightly-older brother (the two shows started independently, but have been run under the same ownership for years). While Oakland (or more recently, "Coliseum Parking Lot," "San Mateo" and "Pomona") focused on hot rods, Sacto, given its Barris cred, naturally traded on customs — although that hasn't always been entirely the case. To wit we saw our first, real-live, in-the-turbos-and-Lexan Ferrari F40 at the Autorama when we were a less-than-fully-developed Jalopnik. Wait a second. To be a Jalopnik, one has to remain perpetually arrested developmentally, so scratch that. But we didn't have any hair on our naughty bits back then.


In recent years, however, the shows have been eclipsed by the Detroit Autorama, with its promise of Foosified, Ridler-prestige glory. This, friends, is wrong. While we will not dispute the awesomeness of the Alexander Brothers, nor the late Dave Alexander, who is currently having his shoes filled by San Pedro's favorite son, California is the hub of American custom car culture, and its Golden State birthplaces are the barrios of Los Angeles and the suburbs of Sacramento.

So over Labor Day weekend, raise a glass to the River City, which gave many Americans' riches-hunting forefathers a place to lay their heads on the way to San Francisco's Barbary Coast brothels after striking it rich in the Mother Lode, and uh, well, that's about that, we suppose. We've covered the rest.

Start your engines [Sacramento News & Review]

The Streets of Sacramento: Tradesmanamino! [Internal]

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