- Bruce Wanta’s sweeping and spectacular “Mulholland Speedster” scored big Sunday at the Del Mar fairgrounds. The ruby red machine captured the 2017 Goodguys/March Performance Street Rod d’Elegance award, adding to its impressive 2017 resume.
Six years in the making, the Mulholland Speedster came to the 17th Meguiar’s Del Mar Nationals fresh off winning America’s Most Beautiful Roadster as well taking the Legends Cup at the Chicago World of Wheels earlier this spring. No matter where it shows up, it captivates audiences. Owner Bruce Wanta is just as nice as the car, standing guard to discuss his custom creation with fans.
Wanta’s Speedster was a team effort between himself, designer E. Black, and renowned coach builder, Troy Ladd of Hollywood Hot Rods, where the car was meticulously constructed. Ladd and Black have teamed on a number of successful builds together but this is their crowning achievement.
During his life as a car aficionado, Wanta had always been infatuated with the regal nature of a ’36 Packard, especially the front end. So when it came time to build his dream ride, he knew he wanted it to have that famous, ornate grille. After brainstorming with Black and Ladd, they basically designed the entire car around the grille shell. As you can see, they clearly hit the mark!
Ladd estimates roughly eighty percent of the car’s exterior panels were hand-formed, with sweeping pontoon fenders and vintage lines. While the body was being sculpted, the team spent countless hours collecting and hunting down rare vintage speed parts for the project. The flathead Lincoln Zephyr V12 engine sports a set of Winfield Double D carburetors (the lost ark of hot rod carbs) as well as a vintage Latham supercharger.
Underneath all of those hand formed contours, the chassis was designed as a figure 8 structure then welded up from raw materials at Hollywood Hot Rods. The suspension is handmade as well and features twin dropped I-beams in front with quarter elliptical springs. The rear suspension is set up with a Winter’s quickchange on custom I-beam arms with quarter elliptical springs. The spun aluminum gold-coated wheel covers are anchored with Packard centers. Adding vintage street rod flair are wide white striped bias ply Firestone tires.
Once everything was massaged into place, prepped and perfected, Mick Jenkins shot the “Mullholland Merlot” paint. Under the hydraulically lifted bonnet is a regal, concours-style tobacco leather upholstery by Mark Lopez/Elegance Auto Interiors. A gentlemen’s car, there are even umbrellas that are spring loaded into the door jams. Under the deck lid is a properly appointed set of luggage.
The Mulholland Speedster is a once in a lifetime car. It successfully recaptures the bygone era of European-style coach building while simultaneously paying homage to American hot rodding. What a ride!
With its Del Mar Street Rod d’Elegance win, the Mulholland Speedster joins the Goodguys Top 12 Cars of the Year lineup. It will be displayed alongside this season’s other big winners at the season-ending Goodguys Southwest Nationals, November 17-19 in Scottsdale, Arizona.