Debbie Walls’ gorgeous merlot-colored ’40 Ford convertible, dubbed “Lucille,” has won the Goodguys 2018 March Performance Street Rod d’Elegance Award. It was announced the winner during the Sunday afternoon awards ceremony at the 18th Meguiar’s Del Mar Nationals this past weekend in Del Mar, California.

More than two decades in the making, the deceptively simple-appearing Ford was finished by Goolsby Customs just before the 2017 SEMA Show, where it brought Debbie to tears when she first laid eyes on it in the Lokar Performance booth. Debbie and her husband, Skip, are Lokar’s founders and owners.

The Goodguys/March Performance Street Rod d’Elegance is the longest-running of Goodguys’ prestigious Top 12 awards, dating back to a Goodguys event in Monterey, California during the spring of 1992. The award moved south when the Del Mar Nationals was added to the calendar, and it has been presented here for nearly two decades. The award was conceived to honor a gorgeous, elegant street rod that is 1948 or older. The selection committee is made up of Goodguys staff members and renowned street rod builders. Naturally, craftsmanship, fit, finish, and overall design play important factors in the award’s selection.

Walls’ drop-top Ford faced fierce competition, with a Top 5 roster of finalists that included Dana Elrod’s sinister black ’36 Ford roadster built by Dale Boesch, Don Richardson’s classy ’38 Ford convertible sedan, Bryan Corah’s slippery ’38 Chevy coupe, and Chris Parmalee’s sleek-looking ’36 Ford roadster. Ultimately, it seemed the simple, graceful approach on Walls’ convertible won over the judging team.

Lucille blends classic custom and street rod elements in a rich-looking package. Like many of the best custom-crafted cars, the modifications are so well designed and executed that the untrained eye might initially miss them. A good example is the ’48 Ford convertible top which, unlike a ’40, has rear quarter windows. The transplanted top has also been chopped a subtle 2-inches – just enough to create a sleeker profile. The car also has ’39 Ford Deluxe fenders and grille, ’46 Chevy bumpers, and Studebaker taillights.

The car’s rich color adds to its elegance. It’s a gorgeous merlot-colored BASF hue that’s both period-appropriate and timeless. When combined with the custom-machined side trim and brilliant Advanced Plating brightwork, the finish provides the perfect blend of grace and class.

Underneath the vintage-style body is a modern Roadster Shop chassis supporting a small-block Chevy V8 with Borla stack injection and an automatic transmission from Bowler. The turquoise-painted engine provides a distinctive contrast to the exterior, lending the vintage look of an old-school engine swap. Refined details include a Vintage Air Front Runner system, custom valve covers and Speedway Motors TruRam exhaust manifolds. The painted steel wheels and wide whitewalls have an OEM feel, with custom-machined center caps bearing a three-rib detail and the car’s name.

The interior matches the class of the outside, with upholstery by M&M Hot Rod Interiors that combines mid-’50s Cadillac cloth with caramel-colored leather. The custom dash has a gorgeous one-off center waterfall feature spilling from the custom instrument cluster, machined from a 40-pound chunk of aluminum and beautifully plated to look like a vintage cast piece. The one-off steering wheel looks vintage, as well, with a graceful horn ring and an incredible cast horn button with an “L” for Lucille.

Subtle, sleek and sensuous, Debbie’s ’40 has the type of quiet, classic grace that whispers to viewers, rather than shouting. It pays homage the history and heritage of classic street rodding and customizing, while incorporating modern components and techniques. It’s a fitting combination of style and craftsmanship befitting the Street Rod d’Elegance honor and a worthy winner of the 2018 crown. Congratulations to Debbie Walls, the Goolsby Customs team and everyone else involved in bringing Lucille to life!

Photos by Mike Harrington and Goodguys