After the ’82 Oakland show, John owned and showed the custom Winfield-built ’58 Chrysler “Golden Sunrise.” “It just happened that I traded the Chrysler to Harry later for my old Merc,” he says. The “Midnight Sensation” was taken back to Powell’s again to be completed and painted. With a candy ultraviolet and lavender pearl paint job and a new Kenny Foster sculptured interior, it finally made its debut at the November 1983 San Francisco Rod & Custom show. Later, at the ’84 Oakland show, the “Midnight Sensation” won several top awards, including the Sam Barris Memorial Award, presented at the Sacramento Autorama.
D’Agostino’s next custom, which was also a hit on the show circuit, was a Bill Reasoner-built ’53 Merc named “The Royal Tahitian.” It was a mild custom with a candy apple red paint job, and it won “Best of Show” at the popular West Coast Customs Paso Robles show in 1986. John showed it at the ’87 Sacramento Autorama before trading it for the Gene Winfield-built ’56 Merc, “Jade Idol.” “We traded right after the awards ceremony at the show,” says John, “and it was a childhood dream to drive the Idol home that foggy Sunday night. I could not wait to call Winfield Monday morning about it.” The plan was to have Winfield redo the car exactly like it was when he built it in the late ’50s.
John never got around to doing that because he was building his next big winner at the time, a ’40 Merc Coupe called “Stardust” that was customized and painted by Bill Reasoner. The “Jade Idol” was later sold to a guy back East, where it remains today. “Stardust” made its debut at the 1988 Oakland show and went on to win many awards, including “Best of Show” at the Paso Robles Show and the “Sam Barris Memorial Award” at the Sacramento Autorama. It eventually ended up at Harrah’s Museum in Reno, Nevada, where it was displayed for a few years before it was sold. It was last seen at the “Men and Machines” exhibition at the Oakland Museum in 1996. (continued)