A gleaming black 1953 Studebaker was named the 2016 Goodguys Custom Rod of the Year. The car was customized and painted by Alan Johnson and his team at Johnson’s Hot Rod Shop in Gadsden, Alabama, using PPG refinish products. The award was presented Nov. 19 at the Goodguys Rod & Custom Association’s 19th annual Southwest Nationals at WestWorld of Scottsdale.
The Studebaker, owned by Paul and Betty Gilliam of Birmingham, Alabama, was selected out of a competitive field of seven custom rod finalists from regional Goodguys events held throughout the past year. Goodguys defines “custom rod” as a car that “tastefully blends customizing techniques or factory stock bodies with modern-day performance, engineering, components and styling.” Custom rods from 1949 to 1972 were eligible to enter the contest. In the judges’ eyes, the Studebaker met the qualifications exceptionally well.
“Competition is always stiff for Goodguys awards,” said John Drummond, editor of the Goodguys Goodtimes Gazette. “We get the best of the best going for the top prizes, and it’s never easy to pick just one, especially in the custom rod category. But this car was different. Alan Johnson and the Gilliams built a masterpiece. It combines European coach building with contemporary style mixed with American hot rod essentials. They have a car they can be proud of.”
Johnson has been using PPG products since 1995. Painter Greg Chalcraft applied DELTRON DBC9700 Basecoat, GLOBAL REFINISH SYSTEM D8152 Performance + Glamour Clearcoat, D8115 Matte Clearcoat and D8117 Semi-Gloss Clearcoat to give the car its award-winning deep black finish.
Johnson’s cars have won several other significant Goodguys honors including the Custom Street Machine, Trendsetter of the Year and Street Rod of the Year awards. The Studebaker also received the Best Street Cruiser award at the Shades of the Past event in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, this past summer.