Hot rod

From Academic Kids

For the Transformers character, see Hot Rod (Transformers). For the magazine, see Hot Rod magazine.

 hot rod
T-bucket hot rod

Hot rods are older, often historical, cars. Originally the term was used to the practice of taking an old, cheap car, removing weight (usually by removing roof, hood, bumpers, windscreen and fenders), lower it, change or tune the engine to give more power, add fat wheels 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. In the 1970s hot rodders tried to clean up their reputation and thus they started to use the term "street rod" instead.

Missing image
Cover of 1958 Hot Rod magazine, showing classic hot rod: 1927 Model T body on 1932 Ford frame with 1948 Mercury engine

Nowadays people who own hot 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 hot rods like Hot Rod Magazine, Street Rodder, and Popular Hot Rodding. There are also television shows like My Classic Car, and Horse Power TV. Hot rods are important to American culture.

Author Tom Wolfe was one of the first to recognise 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 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.

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

The "classic era" of hot 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 culture in North America, especially on the West coast. Hot rod builders such as Jesse James, who is also famous for his motorcycle modifications (choppers), have swept through popular culture like wildfire. The Discovery Channel airs several shows dealing with modern interpretations of kustom kulture such as Monster Garage, American Hot Rod, and The Kustomizer.

Juxtapoz Magazine, founded by the remarkable artist Robert Williams, has thrived in recent years as the latest and greatest extrapolation of kustom kulture art. It has also begun to garner respect as one of the world's best exhibitors of exceptional 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 Swedish Hot Rod culture.

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.

See also

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