Friday, February 15, 2013

The Supernationals: the Hot Rods

Always one of my favorite and most under-represented kind of car is the hot rod. These pre-1940 cars were lightweight and cheap after the war, and in the late forties and fifties many returning soldiers looking for excitement got themselves an old Ford, Chevy, Dodge (or Other) coupe, took out all the unnecessary junk, tuned the engine for performance and went racing. Early hot rodders were considered a menace (the term 'hot rod' was a pejorative originally, referring to the high performance crankshafts being installed), due to their dangerous street racing, eventually many of them were forced to start early dragstrips and retreat to the salt flats to meet their racing needs. In the 1960s, following the rise of high chrome and fancy paint schemes from the factories, hot rodding moved towards the 'show car' mentality, hot rods were painted wild colors, given gobs of chrome (chroming the frame of the car even became standard eventually) and some were built with themes, Ed 'Big Daddy' Roth was one of the most influential and prevalent members of this time period. The hot rod culture has swung back and forth ever since, frequently depending on the economy to dictate which style is in fashion.

The 1932 Ford roadster is considered by many to be the epitome of hot rods, it was the first factory V8 available and sold in such great numbers that they were affordable all the way into the 60s. They are such an icon of motoring that numerous songs have been written about this one car, and they are still being produced as fiberglass replicas.

Commonly called 't- buckets' these cars were built with the body of a Ford Model T, which was essentially a steel tub with seats in it. These are good examples of the stripped down but still high dollar show cars that became popular in the sixties.

Here is an example of an excellent Ford Model A coupe, with a modern Chevrolet V8 powerplant in front.

Classic post-war influence.
A newer trend in hot rodding is the so-called 'volksrod.' As with the early trend setters, Volkswagens are affordable and easy to work on. This one has a chopped roof, suicide doors and the fenders have been removed. The moon covers on the wheels are a classic salt flat racing accessory.

Dig the upholstery.

This wild car is a perfect example of the excesses that come with purpose-built show cars. Every surface is either chrome or deep black. The 'body,' which resembles a t-bucket, is actually steel bars forming a cage, which is also fully chromed, a theme that carries over to the grill. The engine is another modern Chevy small-block, with a huge chrome supercharger and twin chrome carburetors.

Notice the mirror under the car, so you can see the various chromed and painted under-surfaces.
Outside the show we saw this cool themed hot rod, inspired by a hearse. The body is most likely fiberglass, the suspension is all chrome, the interior has a pleasant style to it, and there are many fun details such as the taillights to discover on your own. It's also for sale!

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