Cross-country custom cruise a dream come true

Dean is grateful to his family, who are letting him undertake his dream cruise.

By Danielle Kutchel

It’s a bucket list roadtrip of epic proportions.

Later this month, Berwick Springs resident Dean Vannutini will cross the United States in his beloved hand-built 1934 Ford Coupe hot rod as part of The Hustle.

Mr Vannutini designed The Hustle himself as a way to fulfil his dream of driving his own car through hot rod centres in the States.

He and his car will make a journey of more than 3000 miles, hitting major rod shops and events.

While it has taken years of dreaming, months of planning and several logistical nightmares with customs to get the cruise organised, Mr Vannutini said the timing was perfect given the number of hot rod milestone events taking place in the States this year.

They will attend the biggest hot rod event in the USA, the four-day NSRA 50th Street Rod Nationals and from there drive through seven states to the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah – a highlight he is particularly looking forward to.

“That’s the sacred salt where people from all over the world make the annual pilgrimage to break land speed records. I have been before, but to drive my Australian-built car on the sacred salt is something else,” Mr Vannutini said.

From there, the trip will continue through to Las Vegas, Los Angeles and through Southern California, stopping at custom shops, cruise nights, cruise mornings, collections and museums along the way, finishing in San Francisco where Mr Vannutini will also attend the San Francisco Goodguys West Coast Nationals.

“I have always said that I will take my car one day and do a tour. People thought it was just a dream and the reality of doing such a feat is virtually unheard of. Not many have ever done it and the guys that have are usually in retirement status and trying to complete a bucket list,” Mr Vannutini said.

While still young, he has made a name for himself in the hot rod and custom culture; his 1934 Ford Coupe, built in a backyard shed by Mr Vannutini and his father, has picked up a swag of awards over its nearly 13 years on the road, and the 35-year-old driver is the youngest ever recipient of Top National Car at the ASRF Street Rod Nationals, an accolade he won at the age of just 23.

He will be joined on the cruise by several other enthusiasts from Australia, and will be met on the other side of the Pacific by Americans keen to get involved too.

He said “the Yanks are hanging” to see the famed coupe – but perhaps not as much as Mr Vannutini himself, who waved goodbye to the vehicle when it was shipped over to America in April for the trip.

“Having no control over your pride and joy for the last 11 weeks has been difficult. There have been a few scary moments.”

As their reunion draws closer, he is raring to hit the road.

“Flying the mighty Aussie flag right across the US, let’s show these yanks who’s boss!” he said.

Follow Mr Vannutini’s trip on Facebook or Instagram, at @roguerodshop.