Thursday, March 30, 2006
Hot Rods Need To Be Reinvented!
It was a great idea in the 1950s when guys began building hot rods. They were bored, wanted cars that would go faster and desired something with a cool, new look. In the 1960’s, hot rods took a turn toward futuristic design with bubble tops and gimmicks.
It was the late 1970s that hot rods again changed, builders wanted cars that handled better and took advantage of the technology of the day. Jaguar independent rearends, power windows and late model drivetrains found their way under the bodies of the 1920s and 1930s. It was thought that these cars could get no better.
As the 1980s dawned, innovative thinkers reinvented the hot rod again, the “Vern Luce Coupe” and the “Jamie Musselman Roadster” dramatically changed hot rods forever! These two hand-built hot rods utilized aerospace machining technology and artistic vision to create what is considered commonplace today. These were the hot rods that introduced billet wheels, billet components, smooth style and laid-back grills and windshields.
The 1990s saw this style of hot rod refined and developed virtually every way possible. It was a fantastic time for hot rodders as imagination, innovation and opportunity loomed around every shop. As the Millennium grew closer so did the anticipation that a new era in hot rodding would dawn. Who would usher in the next era? What new style would some innovative hot rodder develop?
Just like the ballyhooed Y2K scare, nothing happened! It is now 2006 and still no new innovative look has emerged. The cars that win Riddler and the GNRS all would look virtually the same if painted white. The smooth look sans door handles and flush mounted everything is now overdone. The only new look in hot rods has been rat rods. I love rat rods and have been happy to see this trend grow, but it is the restoration of a 1950s look.
Sure, I see cars that I really like and I see parts or small details that scream with innovation. What I don’t see, is a fresh new look, an overall design that changes how everyone imagines building a hot rod. Maybe it is the intimidation of the high six-figure cars that scares away anyone from trying. It could be that anyone who cares enough is looking to retirement and, hot rods are becoming a dying breed.
Will hot rods be replaced with the next generations interest in muscle cars? That is where the money is being spent, just look at Alan Johnson’s latest project, a 1971 Plymouth Cuda that has raised the bar and the standard for muscle cars or street machines, as you like. Nothing like that has found its way from a shop wearing a hot rod skin. It could be an evolution that will dawn, not the revolution of style.
The time is now for hot rod builders to take a forward looking eye at what they build. Hot rods have become a big business and any good businessman knows that products trend and that your next product better be new and improved!
See More Photos and read about the Alan Johnson built Cuda: