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Hot Rods and Hot Rodding

Updated on February 1, 2016

Ya, I'm a motorhead and I love Hot Rods...

I have always been a "car guy", growing up during the muscle car era of the 1960s I became a fan of high performance automobiles. Not just muscle cars or race cars but 4WD offroading, motorcycles, custom choppers, dune buggies, tractor and truck pulling and well, I guess you could say I'm just a "motorhead" that's into just about anything when it has an engine and wheels. It's not only earthbound vehicles either, I'm also into aviation, but for this webpage, we'll keep it on the ground. Read on fellow motorheads.

The hot rod

For any car guy that grew up prior to the 1980’s, the term Hot Rod will definitely bring up certain images of the 60’s and early 70’s muscle cars and the earlier open wheel roadsters that were the most popular cars to hot rod back in the 50’s and earlier. T buckets, Dueces, ’57 Chevy, ‘Vettes, etc. were common sights on the boulevard in any city in America.

Nice collection of vintage rods and muscle cars

Hot Rod Fever

Hot Rods in the Beginning

Hot rodding got it's start as early as the 1930s but really gained in popularity after WWII. Most popular were the Ford Model T's and later A models which were turned into the open wheel roadsters that you'll see at any hot rod show anywhere in the country.

When guys first started tinkering with the intent to make their car faster, they made them lighter by removing fenders, running boards, bumpers, hood, roof and sometimes windshields, resulting in stripped down, odd looking cars that somewhere along the way got termed "Hot Rod." They also performed modifications to the engine any way they could to make them run better and put out more horsepower. More extensive modifications were sometimes performed called "chopping" and "channeling" which entails cutting sections out of the body to lower the height which changes the look and also improves aerodynamics.

Naturally, guys being guys, they had to prove their car was the fastest so they started racing them, first on the dry lake beds near Los Angeles California, then after the war on old abandoned airfields or wherever they could at the time. This gave birth to the sport of drag racing that we know today. As it grew in popularity, there became a need some semblance of organization and the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) was formed by Wally Parks in 1951.

New YouTube vids

Muscle Cars

Pretty soon, the American car companies started to realize that they could capitalize on the popularity of hot rods and started offering high performance cars in their showrooms that anyone could buy. They were popular because even someone without mechanical knowledge or ability could get a higher performance car just by walking into a showroom and plunking down some cash, no modifications required.

From about the mid 1950’s on you could get high performance options on cars but starting in the early 60’s, it really took off with purpose built high performance cars known as “muscle cars”. Names like Camaro, Chevelle, Corvette, Mustang, T-Bird, Torino, Charger, Duster, Barracuda, etc. ruled the streets all through the 60’s and early 70’s.


Then, in response to the first gas crunch along about 1973, the car companies moved away from the high horsepower, performance oriented cars and concentrated on MPG, turning out lackluster econo-boxes and drab family sedans. Their first attempts at fuel efficient cars produced underpowered, underperforming, milktoast automobiles that no real car guy wanted to drive so that gave rise to the hot rod movement once again. If Detroit wasn’t producing performance, it was up to the hotrodder to do it.

Hot Rods Reborn - Street Rods

Along about this time though, the term “Street Rod” originated and while it’s sometimes used interchangeably with hot rod, it really denotes a car more street friendly for everyday use and not as much built just for speed and racing. There was more emphasis on making the car look good as well as perform well.

Today, this street rod movement has evolved into producing cars built more for show than go with many only driven occasionally or not at all. These “trailer queens” only come out of the garage to be transported to a show or competition in an enclosed car trailer. Owners are sometimes obsessed with keeping their “show car” immaculate and driving the car on the street isn’t conducive to maintaining it in “showroom” condition. There are still plenty of die hard hotrodders out there though with many people using there rod as a daily driver.

Nowadays, if you’re an aspiring hotrodder, the old muscle cars and early Fords are somewhat rare and hard to find. Fortunately, demand has given rise to companies that specialize in building replica parts including steel or fiberglass bodies, frames and even complete kits to build a great looking rod from the ground up. You can find parts available to build any of the most popular classic hot rod models and kits available to just about any builder skill level.

Street Rods & Hot Rods

A Few Fine Rides

Click thumbnail to view full-size

These are HOT!

Open headers showing some flames.

Keep on Roddin'

You might think that if gas prices soar to high levels again, people will give up on building Hot Rods but I don't believe that will happen. We are a mobile country and whatever the future holds for cars, no matter what type of powerplant it has, people will find ways to customize them to their taste and performance desires. For instance, you can build an electric vehicle to have mild performance and long range to be a practical commuter car but a hotrodder can take that car and modify it to expend it's electrical energy over the course of accelerating through a quarter mile drag race and rival speeds of any internal combustion engine driven car.

As long as we use cars, hotrodders will find ways to modify them and it's not just cars. There are also many other "gearhead" movements that people are involved in such as, dune buggies, off road and 4WD, rock crawling, drifting, custom motorcycles or choppers, etc. and now, modifying cars for extreme economy. People are building cars to see how many MPG they can get. They're experimenting with alternative fuel vehicles such as alcohol, bio-diesel, plug in hybrids, fuel cell, even compressed air to attain record mileage numbers, so if you're into cars in any way, there's something out there for you.

Gentlemen, start your engines!

Nostalgia Drag Racing

Back in the day, some of the wildest cars on the dragstrip were the AA Fuel Altereds. Here's a nice video of a replica of a car called the Winged Express that was driven by a guy called Wild Willie Borsch who was known for smokin' the tires the length of the track while driving with one hand on the wheel and one hand waving to the crowd.



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    • dcatkin lm profile image

      dcatkin lm 

      7 years ago

      The sad thing is that we may be heading for the blas'e sedans again if the government has it's way.

    • KustomsandChopp profile image


      7 years ago

      Great Posts Millertime, I love Hot Rodding as well even though I am younger.

      Check out my Hot Rodding lens.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Wonderful job with this lens! My security word to post this is megawow... how perfect.

    • TrebAllen profile image


      7 years ago

      Great lens! Just love the Hot Rods! That Wild Willie was a real character ... one hand on the wheel smoking the tires going sideways down the strip. There's a quote about Willie that said "Willie had to drive half a mile in order to go a quarter." Wild Willie Borsch ... gone but never forgotten. Again, great lens.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Nice website. I'm into cars and 4x4's so I enjoyed this. I make some stuff for both but mostly enjoy writing about them on here. Just getting started so check back often.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Great lens! 5***** and Fav. Happy New Year!

    • profile image

      Leanne Chesser 

      8 years ago

      I don't know much about hot rodding, but this is a fantastic and well-written lens with some awesome photos! Blessed by an angel!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Oh what a fine hot rodding lens. I see that you love making lenses about cars!

      Blessed by a Squid Angel! ~ Happy Holidays!

    • Millertime LM profile imageAUTHOR

      Millertime LM 

      9 years ago

      I am honored that this lens got LOTD and I really appreciate all your wonderful comments. It's very gratifying to know people like my lens. Thank you very much.

    • Lee Hansen profile image

      Lee Hansen 

      9 years ago from Vermont

      Hey, motorhead LOTD - YAY! My cousins were into their hot rods big time in the early-to-mid sixties - I loved riding to and from home in their souped up old machines. Later, I even had a ragtop '57 Chevy ... still would like one of those again. Congrats, and thanks for the memories.

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 

      9 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      Congrats on LotD, I enjoyed seeing all these Hot Rods

    • EpicFarms profile image


      9 years ago

      I lLove looking at all those cool cars! Congratulations on being chosen LOTD :o)

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Great lens! I'm a bit of a muscle car fan myself. I love the mention of the electric cars - I've seen some pretty souped up versions of those!

    • Charlino99 profile image

      Tonie Cook 

      9 years ago from USA

      Life size match-box cars have always charmed me. I love hot rods, muscle cars, and art cars. Great work with this beautifully informative page.

    • stacy mcdaniel profile image

      stacy mcdaniel 

      9 years ago

      Congratulation! Awesome Lens! I love looking at the old hot rods.

    • Michey LM profile image

      Michey LM 

      9 years ago

      I really enjoy the pictures, as I like old cars. You gave a great lens, very well done,

      Congratulation for LOTD.


    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 

      9 years ago from Arkansas USA

      Fun lens! Congratulations on your lens of the day award!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Congratulations for LOTD for Hot Rods and Hot Rodding!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Congratulations on Lens of the Day!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      coolï¼ great cars. my younger brother love cars very much.

    • Stazjia profile image

      Carol Fisher 

      9 years ago from Warminster, Wiltshire, UK

      Congratulations on making LOTD.

    • Spook LM profile image

      Spook LM 

      9 years ago

      Congrats on LOTD. Blessed by an Angel.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Nice lens, all the cars were great. Good job. Congrats.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      My daughter and son in law would love this...I like it too, but they are way into cars! Congrats on LOTD:-) ~claudia

    • Faye Rutledge profile image

      Faye Rutledge 

      9 years ago from Concord VA

      Lots of nice hot rods here! I'm lensrolling this with my lens about our 1955 Studebaker. Congratulations on LOTD! :-)

    • WindyWintersHubs profile image


      9 years ago from Vancouver Island, BC

      I love old cars! Congrats on LOTD! :)

    • KimGiancaterino profile image


      9 years ago

      Congratulations on LOTD! Very nice lens... Squid Angel Blessed.

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 

      9 years ago from United States

      Awesome!!! Congratulations on Lens of the Day!

    • aka-rms profile image

      Robin S 

      9 years ago from USA

      very cool! congrats on LotD!

    • Christene-S profile image


      9 years ago

      Blessed by a SquidAngel :)

    • KOrazem profile image

      Seeking Pearls 

      9 years ago from Pueblo West

      Excellent lens and wonderful photos. Congratulations on you LOTD! Great Job!

    • Stazjia profile image

      Carol Fisher 

      9 years ago from Warminster, Wiltshire, UK

      The hot rods you've pictured here are fabulous. I loved reading the history of hotrodding too. Blessed by an Angel.

    • LaraineRoses profile image

      Laraine Sims 

      9 years ago from Lake Country, B.C.

      I guess you could call me a motorhead also. Although I am aging, I still enjoy going to the car rallies and when on the coast love the dune buggies. I enjoyed this lens as it brought back memories of some great cars. 5*s, favorite and lensrolled to my 43 Small Clicks.

    • oztoo lm profile image

      oztoo lm 

      9 years ago

      Cool stuff. I just love these hot rods. The hours of work that goes into creating them is well worth the effort.5*

    • delia-delia profile image


      9 years ago

      oh I LOVE these cars! thanks for sharing this lens...5*

    • Janusz LM profile image

      Janusz LM 

      9 years ago

      Wow! there are some amazing Hot Rods here. Blessed :)

    • Simeyc1 profile image


      9 years ago

      Very nice - a hobby I'd like to take up if I ever retire!

    • BisDak profile image


      9 years ago

      favorited your site and gave you 5 stars..

    • BisDak profile image


      9 years ago

      I thought these cars exist only in pc/video games.


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