Who and what is Hot Rodding?

In the early days of hot rodding, there were guys putting big engines from big cars into vehicles that they had no business powering.  Flathead V8’s, Zephyr transmissions, multiple carb’s (sometimes even hooked up!), and quick change rear ends were all the rage.  Each hot rod builder wanted to be faster, lower, smoother, and more custom than the next guy.  Car customizing was pushing the limits of what could safely be driven on the street.  As cars evolved so did the hot rodding scene.  Muscle cars came and went and so did the days of factory emissions parts stealing your horsepower.  After writing yesterday’s blog about what to do with my 1960 Pontiac project car,  I began to wonder who really is driving this hot rod scene forward in 2010?  What is a hot rod? Who is still customizing cars and is it the same style as it was several decades ago?  Has everything been done?!  Is hot rodding only hot rodding if it is an old car? American? Foreign?  Gosh, so many tough questions.

In high school, my friends and I were minitruckers (don’t hate!), so we were all about laying our trucks as low to the ground as possible and tucking lug nuts in the fenders.  If some part of the truck prevented us from being low, it would simply be removed.  One cool fall day I was building a boxed steel frame, triangulated 4-link suspension, and air ride setup for a friends Toyota truck, and my dad walked outside and watched me work for a few minutes.  He then said “This is just like what we used to do when I was a kid.  This is hot rodding.”  For whatever reason those words stuck with me, and in my mind it holds true.  I feel like if you are modifying your car in a way that other people aren’t doing, don’t like, or don’t understand, you are probably hot rodding.

What’s your definition of Hotrodding? Who is doing it?

Picture borrowed from:


Jeremy Nutt

Hi, I'm Jeremy.

5 thoughts to “Who and what is Hot Rodding?”

  1. Your comment about dedication to a purpose (minitrucking, in your case) brings to mind the LeMons/ChumpCar/$200X guys and their dedication to building race cars on a budget. Here are some good examples: http://www.motoiq.com/MagazineArticles/tabid/59/articleType/ArticleView/articleId/1350/Best-Engineered-Cars-of-LeMons.aspx

    Which reminds me – have you run across any other good info about bike-engined cars? FWD cars converted to RWD? FWD converted to RWD using a bike engine!? Could be some good fodder there for another interesting Nutts and Bolts post!

  2. As far as I’m concerned, anything you do to a car or truck to make it go faster, stop quicker, or handle better, makes it a hot rod. General maintenance doesn’t count.

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