Hot rod

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For other uses, see Hot rod (disambiguation).
A 1923 Ford T Bucket in the traditional style with lake headers, dog dish hubcaps, dropped "I" beam axle, narrow rubber, and single 4-barrel, but non-traditional disc brakes.
T-bucket with early hemi, but aluminum radiator (rather than brass), rectangular headlights, and five-spokes (rather than motorcycle wheels) mark this as a later incarnation.
3-window lowboy Deuce coupé with a traditional chop, dropped front axle, sidepipes, bugcatcher scoop (with Mooneyes cover) over dual quads on a tunnel ram, as well as less-traditional shaved door handles and disc brakes.
1932 3-window with a classic-style[1] flame job and Moon tank.

Hot rods are typically old, classic American cars with large engines modified for linear speed. The origin of the term "hot rod" is unclear. Roadsters were the cars of choice because they were light, were easy to modify, and could be bought for a low price. The term became commonplace in the 1930s or 1940s as the name of a car that had been "hopped up" by modifying the engine in various ways to achieve higher performance. A term that was common in the early days to refer to a hot rod was a "gow job". This has fallen into total disuse except with historians.

The term can also apply to other items that are "souped up" for a particular purpose, such as "hot-rodded amplifier".

History[edit]

Late 1930s–1950s[edit]

The term seems first to have appeared in the late 1930s in southern California, where people would race their modified cars on the vast, empty dry lake beds northeast of Los Angeles under the rules of the Southern California Timing Association (SCTA). The activity increased in popularity after World War II, particularly in California because many returning soldiers had been given technical training in the service. Many were prepared by Bootleggers in response to Prohibition to enable them to avoid revenue agents ("Revenooers"); some police vehicles were also modified in response.[2]

The first hot rods were old cars (most often Fords, typically Model Ts, 1928–31 Model As, or 1932-34 Model Bs), modified to reduce weight. Typical modifications were removal of convertible tops, hoods, bumpers, windshields, and/or fenders; channeling the body; and modifying the engine by tuning and/or replacing with a more powerful type. Speedster was a common name for the modified car. Wheels and tires were changed for improved traction and handling. "Hot rod" was sometimes a term used in the 1950s as a derogatory term for any car that did not fit into the mainstream. Hot rodders' modifications were considered to improve the appearance as well, leading to show cars in the 1960s replicating these same modifications along with a distinctive paint job.

Engine swaps often involved fitting the Ford flathead engine, or "flatty", in a different chassis; the "60 horse" in a Jeep was a popular choice in the '40s. After the appearance of the 255 cu in (4.2 l) V8, because of interchangeability, installing the longer-stroke Mercury crank in the 239 was a popular upgrade among hot rodders, much as the 400 cu in (6.6 l) crank in small-blocks would become. In fact, in the 1950s, the flathead block was often fitted with crankshafts of up to 4.125 in (104.8 mm) stroke, sometimes more.[3] In addition, rodders in the 1950s routinely bored them out by 0.1875 in (4.76 mm) (to 3.375 in (85.7 mm));[3] due to the tendency of blocks to crack as a result of overheating, a perennial problem, this is no longer recommended.[4] In the '50s and '60s, the flatty was supplanted by the early hemi. By the 1970s, the small-block Chevy was the most common option, and since the '80s, the 350 cu in (5.7 l) Chevy has been almost ubiquitous.[5]

Post WWII origins of organized rodding[edit]

Hot Rodded prewar British Rover 10

After World War II there were many small military airports throughout the country that were either abandoned or very rarely used that allowed hot rodders across the country to race on marked courses. Originally drag racing had tracks as long as one mile (1.6 km) or more, and included up to four lanes of racing at the same time. As hot rodding became more popular in the 1950s, magazines and associations catering to hot rodders were started. As some hot rodders also raced on the street, a need arose for an organization to promote safety. Hot rodders including Wally Parks created the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) to bring racing off the streets and onto the tracks. They created rules based on safety and entertainment, and allowed Hot Rodders of any caliber the ability to race. 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 roots of hot rodding.

1960s rise of the street rod[edit]

As automobiles offered by the major automakers began increasing performance, the lure of Hot Rods began to wane. It was no longer necessary to put a Cadillac engine in a Ford roadster to be fast. It was now possible to buy a muscle car that outperformed just about any hot rod, with more passenger room, and without having to expend the effort of building and tuning the car oneself. After the 1973 Oil Crisis, the public called on automakers to offer safety and fuel efficiency over performance. The resulting decrease in an average car's performance led to a resurgence of Hot Rodding, although the focus was on driving Hot Rods over racing so the term 'Street Rod' was coined to denote a vehicle manufactured prior to 1949, often with a more reliable late model drivetrain. Street Rodding as it was now known was a different phenomenon than Hot Rodding, as Street Rodding was mainly family oriented. National events were hosted by the National Street Rod Association (NSRA), which also stressed safety as the NHRA did 20 years before, but this was safety for the street as opposed to on the race track. Each NSRA event has a 'Safety Inspection Team' that performs a 23 points inspection process that goes beyond what normal State Safety Inspections Require.

In the mid-1980s, as stock engine sizes fell, rodders discovered the all-aluminum 215 (Buick or Olds) could be stretched to as much as 305 cu in (5 l), using: the Buick 300 crank, new cylinder sleeves, and an assortment of non-GM parts, including VW & Mopar lifters and Carter carb.[6] It could also be fitted with high-compression cylinder heads from the Morgan +8. Using the 5 liter Rover block and crank, a maximum displacement of 317.8 cu in (5,208 cc) is theoretically possible.[7]

Modern rodding[edit]

1936 Chevrolet street rod

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

In modern culture[edit]

Lifestyle[edit]

There is a contemporary movement of traditional hot rod builders, car clubs and artists who have returned to the roots of hot rodding as a lifestyle. This includes a new breed of traditional hot rod builders, artists and styles, as well as classic style car clubs. Events like GreaseOrama feature traditional hot rods and the greaser lifestyle. Magazines like Ol' Skool Rodz, Gears and Gals, and Rat-Rods and Rust Queens cover events and people.

In the media[edit]

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

There are magazines that feature traditional hot rods, including Hot Rod, Car Craft, Rod and Custom, and Popular Hot Rodding. There are also television shows such as My Classic Car, Horsepower TV, American Hot Rod, and Chop Cut Rebuild.

In Sweden[edit]

Swedish hot rodders with 1960s American car at Power Big Meet

The culture is vibrant in Sweden where enthusiasts gather at meetings such as Power Big Meet and clubs like Wheels and Wings in Varberg, Sweden have established themselves in Swedish Hot Rod culture. Since there is very little "vintage tin" the hot rods in Sweden are generally made with a home made chassis (usually a Ford model T or A replica), with a Jaguar (or Volvo 240) 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 rebodied Duett rather than a new vehicle.[1][2][3][4][5][6]

Some 1950s and 1960s cars are also hot rodded, like Morris Minor, Ford Anglia, Volvo Amazon, Ford Cortina, '57 Chevy, to name but a few. These are known as Custom cars (sometimes spelled Kustom).

Language[edit]

Certain linguistic conventions are followed among rodders and customizers:

Common terms[edit]

Rockcrusher — Muncie M22 4-speed transmission[38] so called because of the audible differences in operation between the model M-22 and its lower strength but quieter cousin, the M-21[citation needed]

Some terms have an additional, different meaning among customizers than among rodders: NOS, for instance, is a reference to new old stock, rather than nitrous oxide.

Gallery[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Fortier, Rob (August 1999). "25th Salt Lake City Autorama". Street Rodder: 51. 
  2. ^ "Hot Rod". svagoo.it. 
  3. ^ a b Street Rodder, 1/85, p. 72.
  4. ^ Street Rodder, 1/85, p.72.
  5. ^ See any issue of Street Rodder, for instance.
  6. ^ Davis, Marlan. "Affordable Aluminum V8's [sic]", in Hot Rod Magazine, March 1985, pp.84-9 & 121.
  7. ^ Davis, p.87.
  8. ^ For instance, Street Rodder, 8/99, passim; Rod Action, 2/78, passim.
  9. ^ American Rodder, 6/94, pp.45 & 93.
  10. ^ Geisert, Eric. "Tom's Fun Run", in Street Rodder, 8/99, p.149cap.
  11. ^ Street Rod Builder, 7/03, p.126.
  12. ^ PHR, 7/06, pp.22-3.
  13. ^ Fortier, p.53cap.
  14. ^ Fortier, p.54cap.
  15. ^ Fetherston, David, "Track Terror", in Rod & Custom, 7/95, p.35; Emmons, Don, "Long-term Hybrid", in Rod & Custom, 7/95, p.52; & Baskerville, Gray, "Tom Brown's '60s Sweetheart", in Rod & Custom, 9/00, p.162.
  16. ^ Bianco, Johnny, "Leadfest" in Rod & Custom, 9/00, p.86.
  17. ^ "Latest Ford Anglia and Site News". anglia-models.co.uk. 
  18. ^ Hot Rod, 12/86, p.85 caption.
  19. ^ Scale Auto, 6/06, p.15 sidebar.
  20. ^ http://www.fordracingparts.com/parts/part_details.asp?PartKeyField=6787
  21. ^ Ganahl, Pat, "Swap 'til you Drop", in Rod & Custom, 7/95, pp.68 & 70.
  22. ^ Geisert, Eric. "The California Spyder", in Street Rodder, 8/99, p.34; Mayall, Joe. "Driving Impression: Reproduction Deuce Hiboy", in Rod Action, 2/78, p.26; letters, Rod & Custom, 7/95, p.10.
  23. ^ Fortier, Rob. ""A Little Pinch Here, A Little Tuck There", in Street Rodder, 8/99, p.136.
  24. ^ Hot Rod, 2/87, p.38.
  25. ^ Hot Rod, 12/86, p.52 caption.
  26. ^ http://www.oldtinrods.com
  27. ^ Burhnam, Bill. "In Bill's Eye", Custom Rodder 1/97, p.17; reprinted from Goodguys Gazette.
  28. ^ "Mr. 32", in Street Rodder, 2/78, p.40.
  29. ^ Fortier, p.51cap; Bianco, p.82.
  30. ^ Ganahl, p.70 & "Coupla Cool Coupes", p.74.
  31. ^ Mayall, Joe. "Joe Mayall's Driving Impression: Reproduction Deuce Hiboy", in Rod Action, 2/78, pp.28 & 29; Hot Rod Magazine, 11/84, p.6.
  32. ^ Hot Rod Magazine's Street Machines and Bracket Racing #3 (Los Angeles: Petersen Publishing, 1979), p.65.
  33. ^ Hot Rod, 2/87, p.43.
  34. ^ According to IHRA Executive VP Ted Jones, in Car Craft, 1/91, p.16.
  35. ^ Popular Cars, 12/85, p.51.
  36. ^ Hot Rod Magazine, 11/84, pp.46 & 50.
  37. ^ Hot Rod Magazine, 11/84, p.7.
  38. ^ Hot Rod Magazine's Street Machines and Bracket Racing #3 (Los Angeles: Petersen Publishing, 1979), p.33.
  39. ^ Rod & Custom, 7/95, p.143cap.
  40. ^ Yunick, Henry. Best Damn Garage in Town: The World According to Smokey.
  41. ^ Street Rodder, 12/98, p.292.
  42. ^ http://www.4speedtoploaders.com/toploaderhistory.htm
  43. ^ Rod & Custom, 7/95, pp.26-7 & 33.
  44. ^ Street Rodder, 2/78, p.43.
  45. ^ Chevrolet Chassis Service Manual, 1963 edition, sec 0-4
  46. ^ Street Rodder, 7/94, p.145.
  47. ^ Hot Rod, 2/87, p.47, & 12/86, p.33 caption.
  48. ^ owner of the car
  49. ^ Street Rodder, 12/98, p.47; Rod & Custom, 7/95, p.29.

External links[edit]