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Autorama to draw crowd to Fresno for weekend

FRESNO -- Only the best of the best get to shine under the lights.

Blackie Gejeian's 49th Fresno Autorama runs today through Sunday at the Fresno Convention Center's new Exhibit Hall. More than 200 customized cars, trucks, hot rods and motorcycles will be displayed at the invitation-only show at the downtown entertainment venue.

Gejeian said there were no entries received from Merced area builders for this year's show. He said the event will be wilder than ever. He handpicks each vehicle to be displayed in Fresno, visiting shows and car events in more than 20 states to make the selections.

"The quality of this show is growing each year," Gejeian said. "We've got more top out-of-state cars than ever that are coming to make their West Coast debut."

Rudy Necoechea of Sherman Oaks is entering "Undisputed," a hand-formed 1932 Ford roadster that cost $1.5 million to build. The champagne gold-colored car won the "America's Most Beautiful Roadster" award at the January Grand National Roadster Show in Pomona.

It took four years for Scott's Hot Rods in Oxnard to build the open-air roadster. The body was hammered out of brand-new sheet metal and the drive-train and chassis are all chrome-plated.

Other feature vehicles to be showcased at the Fresno Autorama include a 1941 Willy's coupe with a 1,000-horsepower engine and an interior featuring Florida alligator hides. This car was fashioned by "Builder of the Year" Joe "Sparky" Bullock of Hillsborough.

A radical custom 1950 Mercury from Perth, Australia is entered, along with a heavily modified 1933 Willy's coupe that also contended for the Ridler Award at the 2007 Detroit Autorama, and a raspberry red 1940 Ford convertible dubbed "Wild Thang."

Show hours are 1 p.m. to 10 p.m. today, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday. General admission is $16; seniors are $14 and children aged 6 to 12 are admitted for $8.

Associate Editor Doane Yawger can be reached at (209) 385-2485 or