Six years in the making, the Mullholland Speedster came back to the Grand National Roadster Show main floor after being shown here two years ago in bare metal to take home the coveted “America’s Most Beautiful Roadster” crown. The finished product, a team effort between designer E. Black, coach builder Troy Ladd, and owner Bruce Wanta, captured the hearts and minds of not only the judges but the tens of thousands of attendees at this year’s GNRS. Large crowds surrounded the stunning roadster throughout the duration of the show.
An avid collector, Bruce Wanta had a long-running infatuation with the regal nature of a ’36 Packard grille, so he had a car built from scratch by Hollywood Hot Rods to sit behind it. Builder Troy Ladd estimates roughly eighty percent of the car was hand formed off E. Black’s design with sweeping pontoon fenders and vintage lines. The ‘Speedster’s hand-formed steel body rivals that of 19th-century European coach builders. Mick Jenkins shot the lavish “Mullholland Merlot” paint after all the metal was massaged.
For the build, the team spent countless hours planning and plotting, redesigning and collecting rare vintage speed parts. The flathead Lincoln Zephyr V12 sports a set of Winfield Double D carburetors — the lost arc of hot rod carbs — as well as a vintage Latham supercharger. Underneath it all, the chassis was designed as a figure 8 (a concept Ladd had on paper a decade before the build got started) and features twin dropped I-beams in front with 1/4 elliptical springs, in front. There are also electronically actuated arms which raise and control ride height at the push of a button. The rear features an equally elaborate set up with a Winter’s quick change center on custom I-beam arms with 1/4 elliptical springs. The handmade, gold-coated wheel covers are anchored with Packard centers and are wrapped in Firestone bias ply whitewalls.
Under the hand-formed, electronically retractable aluminum top is a regal, concours-style tobacco leather upholstery by Mark Lopez/Elegance Auto Interiors. Everywhere you look, the ‘Speedster’s details slowly emerge. There are even spring loaded umbrellas sunken into the door jambs!
What’s next for the Mullholland Speedster? “I am going to drive this car,” Wanta adamantly exclaimed during our walk around. “It was designed to be driven.” Given his conviction during our conversation, we are inclined to believe him. Immediate plans call for more shows this spring which hopefully includes the Goodguys 17th Meguiar’s Del Mar Nationals March 31-April 2.
Special cars like this don’t come around too often. Congrats to the entire team on their masterpiece!