Everything’s Bigger At The<br/> Lonestar Round Up
The Place To Be

People have been telling me for years that I have to go to the Lonestar Round Up in Austin, Texas. Actually, they’ve been telling me that my car should be there, but either way it’s been on my radar for quite some time.


Life dictated a shorter trip by plane this time, with just enough time to gather photos and stories to share with you, so driving the Kaiser 1000 miles to attend the Round Up will have to wait for another time.


I’ve talked about this before, but the feeling couldn’t have been more real than last weekend. It’s pure torture to attend a show like this without your own kustom or hot rod – especially when you realize that nearly everyone drove their rides to the event from all over the country.


Now it’s one thing to drive your work-in-progress hundreds of miles knowing all the while that a flying pebble can’t hurt it, but the more I talked to people the more I realized that even the nicest cars had been brought to the show under their own power. This ain’t no trailer-parking-out-back, lawn chair show my friends.


To be truthful, I don’t know if this specific shoebox was driven in or towed, but it gives you an idea of the caliber of finished car that was on hand.


And it’s not just that the cars have nice paint, nearly all adhered to the unwritten rules of traditional hot rods and kustoms too.


Austin is a hotbed for traditional hot rodding, with residents such as the obviously-dubbed Austin Speed Shop, The Jalopy Journal and plenty of local hot rod legends. All are exemplars of doing things the old fashioned way, which it turns out is still quite fashionable.


Trends come and go, but traditional styling will always be timeless.

Quality & Quantity

Matte paint might be a nod to the past, but it’s pretty obvious that it’s become very trendy of late. Here’s a ’36 Ford wearing hot rod clothes.


Over in the ‘Featured Parking Area’ sat another, but built as a chopped, skirted, frame-dragging kustom.


Not far away sat yet another ’36, this time with a raked-out, drag-inspired stance. With three examples of the same car all built in different ways, you can start to get a sense for the massive scale of the Lonestar Round Up.


All day long cars came and went. It was nice to be at a show where the owners’ cars aren’t quarantined for the duration.


Not only did the ever-changing mix of cars add a little variety to the show, but it also gave you a chance to hear them run. Whenever a car would fire up a crowd would draw near to admire another hot rod in motion.


This flexibility also gave me the opportunity to grab a few cars from the show and go off-site for feature shoots. This is harder than you would think at most shows.


The shear quantity of high-quality cars was mind-boggling – especially in the ‘Featured’ area.


Johnson’s Hot Rods brought out a few of their projects.


Lucky Burton’s roadster won The Jalopy Journal pick, exemplifying a traditional hot rod to the core.


Jon Wright cranks out the nicest chrome on the planet, so I was interested to see what he brought out. Hmm, not much chrome here.


It was an interesting case of restraint, although the bits that were chromed were done to the highest standard. Is this a ‘cobbler’s children’ case, or did he just build himself a great looking hot rod?


I also learned that this ’59 El Camino belonged to the owner of Vintage Air. Check out the license plate and it will make more sense now.


Lee Pratt is one of those local legend hot rodders I alluded to at the start of the story. I had heard that he drives the wheels off his hot rods, and I proceeded to see his ’40 Ford and ’55 Nomad wagon everywhere I went!

Patina Versus Paint

We could argue until we’re blue in the face about what constitutes a rat rod and whether a real hot rod should have a coat of paint on it.


Instead, let’s just admire some cars that are glossy and dull, eh? A mild kustom with canted lights and a drawer-pull grille does it for me every time.


Likewise, I think a lot of guys will go weak in the knees when they see an original gasser Willys rumble by – no matter that it looks like it was pulled from the bottom of a lake. The funny thing is, this Willys would probably fetch more money than many ‘finished’ cars.


Sure, this primered shoebox will turn heads no matter where it goes, but I bet the owner is saving his pennies for a custom paint job too.


I’m a firm believer that a true kustom should eventually get a shiny coat of paint.


Although I will admit to being envious of the guys who never have to worry about rock chips and door dings. Next week I’ll be bringing you spotlight features on a couple of builds that follow this ethos.


If you can find something that already has a good patina, you can just get it running, lower it, and enjoy some stress-free cruising.


So which camp are you in: shiny or dull? Or are you more like me, and don’t really care as long as it’s cool?


This was my first time visiting Austin and the Lonestar Round Up and I walked away a huge fan. I’ve been to big car shows before, but had to pick through hundreds of so-so cars to find the gems. Lonestar Round Up was different – the quality was high, the cars were (mostly) traditional. As a bonus, I got to see cars from all over the country instead of the West Coast builds I’ve been surrounded by lately.

Stay tuned for more coverage, spotlights and car features from my trip to Texas!

Keith Charvonia
Instagram: SpeedhuntersKeith

Cutting Room Floor


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That tan Cadillac has my name written all over it.


I love a car in its original finish. Fake patina is for the birds.


You gonna be at the Bug-o-rama at California Speedway 4/26 Keith?????

Chris 'Haffy' Hafner

If it has its original patina, leave it. If its needing rust repair i.e primer spots, might as well paint it. I'm one of the few people who actually don't mind whatever others do with their cars, just not a fan of the 'quick layer and sand off' fake rat style. Pitty the Kaiser wasn't there Keith, probably would've been the only one there hey?


Really enjoyed this article! such high quality builds! Reminds me of a video shared on stanceworks a while ago.. DOn't know if I'm allowed to share but I feel its somewhat on topic: https://vimeo.com/13334893 
Thanks heaps Keith! A great article and too bad the Kaiser couldn't make it!


Everything 100% right about this feature. Everything. I'll have the grubby Willys please...


I only came here to see where the legs in the first picture came from.  I am disappoint.


ChrisMcNamee me too


If you didnt do it this time you have to stay long enough the night of the show. The South Congress cruise is awesome, although this year it was cut short by a crazy storm. @KeithCharvonia


Though i really really want a rat rod, im in the full paint job crowd. I want my cars to look good. 
Oh and rust holes and dirt is not patina it's just gross. If you need a bucket of bondo it's not patina.


CSAlltrac I didn't make it to Congress this time, I went to Austin Speed Shop after the show. Story coming soon. :)


ChrisMcNamee Fooled ya


Lachys114 Ah yeah Viva is another show that this crowd attends. It's a little too culture heavy for me personally, but I still plan to check it out.


Chris 'Haffy' Hafner Agreed, there's nothing worse than fake patina. 

As far as good, should-be-left-alone patina goes, the first car in this story comes to mind: http://www.speedhunters.com/2014/06/project-hunting-southwest-stash/

I keep trying to buy it but they aren't selling. :)


@Fiatdude I live in Arizona so I won't be there. Not sure if any of our others guys were planning to go. Sounds like a Mike Garrett story to me. :)


You lead with a leg and don't have any babes... BootyHunters this ain't.


AM81 You can't blame them.  I don't think it's beaver season.
However, it is nice to see builds from somewhere else other than that hopeless, festering neon distraction called LA.


Chris 'Haffy' Hafner

I remember that story, so many nice cars just sitting :-(
It happens all the time here in Sydney. You see something sitting for ages, go ask to buy it, they say no and you come back a few years later and its way to gone to do anything with it.
Then they want to sell it and at stupid prices too.


I was there at the after party at Austin speed shop! I saw you! Pretty awesome to have speed hunters repping the local scene


From the video I can see what you mean! I'm Australian so this is only from what I can gather from the interwebs. The cars are still amazing!


Even boobs?


I really hope to see more domestic coverage from you and Mike. There is something oddly mesmerizing about kustoms, rods, gassers, etc...
And this is coming from someone raised on turbocharged wheels from the rising sun.


You should have said hi!


Second Chapter, fourth picture. The truck with the steel racing wheels and the NASCAR style Goodyears. So awesome. So, so awesome.


i spy a cummins! fingers crossed for a feature.


KeithCharvonia what is that metallic purple custom in the bonus images page near the bottom i can't tell if its a early 50's chevy or other gm model


I'm pretty sure it's a '50 Dodge with a Chevy grille.


There are at least 12 different cars in those images I'd happily roll as is. That's pretty much a first from me when looking at event coverage. Amazing selection.


Amazing stories like this make me really dream of the day I can start a build as involved as some of these! Awesome work Keith


The unchopped green 5-window in the last photo made my day. That, and the legs in the first photo.


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