Hot Rod - Street Rod or Hot rods are modified older even historical cars. Originally the term was used to the practice of taking an old car, usually a Ford, and improving its performance by reducing weight (usually by removing roof , hood , bumpers , windscreen and fenders ), lower it, change or tune the engine to give more power, add fat wheels for traction and paint it to make it stand out. The term may have originated from "hot roadster " and the term was used in the 1950s and 1960s as a derogatory term for any car that did not fit into the mainstream . Other sources indicate that the term was derived from replacement of connecting rods in engines to allow higher RPMs to be reached without parts failure. When hot rodding became commercialized in the 1970s , magazines and associations catering to "street rodders" were started.

Hot rodders or Street Rodders, including Wally Parks created the National Hot Rod Association NHRA to bring racing off the streets and onto the tracks. The annual California Hot Rod Reunion and National Hot Rod Reunion are held to honor pioneers in the sport. The Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum houses the very roots of hot rodding and Street Rods. Nowadays people who own hot rods or street rods keep them clean and try to make them noticeable. Those who work according to the original idea of cheap, fast and no frills are often called rat rods . There are many magazines that you can look at to see real hot rods and street rods, including The Rodders Journal, while commercial magazines that include Hot Rod Magazine , Street Rodder , and Popular Hot Rodding cover street rods. There are also television shows like My Classic Car , and Horsepower TV . Hot rods and street rods are an important and iconic part of American culture.

Author Tom Wolfe was one of the first to recognize the importance of hot rodding in popular culture , and bring it to mainstream attention, as described in his book The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine Flake Streamline Baby .

Hot Rod era

The Hot Rod era extended from 1945 to the beginning of the muscle car era (about 1965), reaching its height in about 1955. During this time, there was an adequate supply of what hot rodders called "vintage tin" -- junk cars manufactured prior to 1942 that could be had cheaply. Many of these had sound bodies and frames and had been junked for mechanical reasons, since the running gear of early cars was not durable. The typical hot rod or street rod was heavily modified, particularly through replacement of the engine and transmission, and possibly other components including brakes and steering. Certain engines, such as the flathead Ford V8, and the small block Chevrolet V8 were particularly sought after as replacements, because of their compact size, ready availability, and power. The early Mopar Hemi was popular in applications that required more power, such as drag racing .

Construction of a hot rod or street rod required skill with mechanical work, welding, and automotive paint and body work.

The "classic era" of hot rod or street rod construction ended around 1965, in part because the supply of vintage tin had dwindled, but mostly because new cars were equipped for greater speed and power directly from the factory with little or no modification required.


There is still a vibrant Hot Rod and street rod culture worldwide, especially in the United States. The hot rod community has now been subdivided into two main groups: hot rodders and street rodders. Hot rodders build their cars using a lot of original, old parts, and follow the styles that were popular from the 1940s through the 1960s. Street rodders build cars (or have them built for them) using new parts.

Hot rod builders such as Jesse James , who is also famous for his motorcycle modifications ( choppers ), have profited through their exposure on sensationalized TV shows. The Discovery Channel airs several shows dealing with modern interpretations of kustom kulture such as Monster Garage , American Hot Rod , and Overhaulin' .

Juxtapoz Magazine , founded by the artist Robert Williams , has thrived as a recent extrapolation of kustom kulture art. It has also begun to garner respect as an exhibitor of contemporary artistic talent that transcends kustom kulture's bounds.

The culture is still going strong in Sweden where there are a lot of automobile enthusiasts, also known as raggare . Clubs such as Wheels and Wings in Varberg , Sweden have established themselves in the Swedish Hot Rod and Street Rod culture. Since there is very little "vintage tin" the hot rods and street rods in Sweden are generally made with a home made chassis (usually a Ford model T or A replica), with a Jaguar rear axle, a small block V8 and fiberglass tub, but some have been built using for instance a Volvo Duett chassis. Because the Swedish regulations required a crash test even for custom-built passenger cars between 1969 and 1982 the Duett option was often used since it was considered a re-engined Duett rather than a new vehicle.

On April 7 , 2005 , Boyd Coddington , famed hot rod designer and star of American Hot Rod , pleaded guilty of perpetrating a " Ship of Theseus " fraud. Coddington's hot rods had been registered as antique automobiles in order to avoid emissions and tax liabilities. However, many of the vehicles no longer contained any parts from the original cars, and some were entirely unrelated to their supposed donor vehicles. Interestingly, most of his cars were hand built one offs, complete with hand fabricated aluminum bodies. Technically, they were often late-model cars with copies of 1930s-'60s bodies on them.

New "Retro Inspired" steel bodies

As the supply of original steel bodies dwindles to nothing, those who reject fiberglass replicas can buy new reproduction bodies. They are not actual antiques, but in some respects they are better than any previous hot rod bodies. The down side is that $10,000 price that the best bodies command.

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