History was made this past summer in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, when the first post-'48 vehicles rolled through the front gates of a National Street Rod Association event. Throughout its entire 36-year history, attendance at National Street Rod Association events has been limited to pre-'48-bodied vehicles. With the Milwaukee Nationals that has changed, and as a result, the event was a resounding success.
Almost 1,700 vehicles were registered for this inaugural event, with modified vintage rides up to '75 welcome. With the NSRA's expanded entries came the much-expected customs of the '50s, musclecars of the '60s, and street machines of the early '70s.
Catching the eye of many truck-loving spectators was the large number of very cool commercial vehicles that included several hundred pickups and panel trucks. The wide variety of hot haulers ran the gamut from the traditional '30s and '40s street rod versions of closed-cab and roadster pickups (typically seen at NSRA events) to the wildly popular 1/2-ton haulers from the '50s, as well as the muscle trucks of the '60s and '70s. The expanded mix was a special treat with event participants who appreciated the wider range of vintage vehicles rolling about the Wisconsin State Fairgrounds. It also offered an opportunity for the friendly exchange of customizing and styling ideas that can only help all aspects of our growing vintage-vehicle hobby. It was easy to contrast the diverse styling of vehicles when a '40 Ford pickup was sandwiched between a '32 Ford roadster and a blown '66 Chevy Nova.
Sunday's awards ceremonies demonstrated the popularity of trucks has reached an all-time high. Event director Tom Biles opened the ceremonies by mentioning the grand prize to be given away to a lucky participant at this year's Street Rod Nationals in Louisville: a '37 Ford pickup built by Downs Manufacturing. Many of the 33 vehicles honored at the awards were trucks, including the Event Director's Pick, a '48 Chevy pickup. As the awards came to a close, a lucky participant's number was drawn and the holder won the grand prize: an '05 Chevrolet Colorado pickup truck!
The inaugural Milwaukee Nationals proved any skeptics wrong. The event was a popular beginning of a new era for the National Street Rod Association. The post-'48 trucks on hand took their rightful place alongside the deuce roadsters, sleek customs, and musclecar cousins in the hot rod hobby.