Top 8 Things That Shaped Hot Rodding
Much has been said about how the hot rodding hobby rose to stardom over the years. If you asked 50 people, you’d probably get any one of these 8 things as at least a powerful influence in the rise of hot rodding. So let’s roll back the hands of time to acknowledge those events and things that helped create our beloved hobby.
8. The Rise of The Muscle Car
Talk to anyone who owns a muscle car, no matter their age, they will all acknowledge that the 1960s took this hobby mainstream. As Detroit turned out the muscle, eager buyers flexed that muscle daily at every stoplight and every dragstrip they could find.
Muscle cars were a leap forward over the old-technology hot rods. Things like air conditioning, comfortable seats, reliability and affordability attracted new audiences and swayed hot rod veterans to this new era of power and performance.
7. The Chevy Small Block V8
Few events during hot rodding’s rise are more influential in the rise of hot rodding than Chevrolet’s 265 cubic inch V8. To say it was a game-changer would be an understatement. Not only did the small block Chevy single-handedly put Chevrolet Bel Airs and Corvettes at the top of the wish list of many a teenager, but it also started a revolution. Easy to modify, easy to tuck inside almost any car and the aftermarket support was the icing on the cake.
6. Drag Racing
If you build it, someone will want to race it. July 2, 1950, was the day drag racing was born. Ever since that day, people have been drag racing anywhere and everywhere – runways, drag strips, country roads, you name it. The NHRA was born a year later and is still going 70+ years later. The 1/4 mile time of a car remains one of the top barometers of a car’s potential to this day.
Hollywood gets some of the credit, too. The portrayal of hot rods in movies like Devil On Wheels. Dragstrip Girl, American Graffiti, Two Lane Blacktop, and more recently, nine different fast & Furious movies (please stop, Universal), have introduced drag racing is to billions of people globally.
4. Hot Rod Shows and Meets
If you’re old enough to remember drive-in restaurants, your childhood was probably great. Hot Rod shows started as far back as 1948 and over the decades, they have grown in size and popularity. Today, on almost any Saturday, there’s a hot rod show somewhere in America. These events draw hundreds and been thousands of cars, at times.
If you don’t know about Hot Rod magazine, you’re not a car guy. This is the one that started it all and there have been many spinoffs, some focusing on brands or certain models of cars, and others focusing on tech or some other niche within the hot rodding hobby. Up until the digital age killed most magazines in the early 2000s, these were going strong. Today, the internet feature has replaced the Hot Rod cover feature.
2. World War II
When our troops came home, they looked for an adrenaline rush. Hot rodding offered that to many. The men who came home from war found their technical skills helpful in building things, including hot rods and the economy booming, they had the money to indulge. By the late 1940s, hot rodding was starting to take root.
1. Car Clubs
Car clubs go back to the late 1930s. With the Great Depression drawing to a close, people started car clubs to unite those with common interests. Before long, they were racing on dry lake beds. The SCTA (So Cal Timing Association) was founded to organize and promote these events. This is why hot rodding is said to have started in California.