What's It Really Mean?
I've been a subscriber to Rod & Custom for the past several years, having come over from Street Rod Builder. I departed SRB because it seemed to me that they were drifting away from their roots of "how-to" car building articles to more of the high-end car display articles. R&C seems to have a good mix of both.
What sparked my interest in writing to you was your most recent "Behind the Wheel" editorial in the Mar. '10 issue where you discussed "Just What is a Hot Rod?" I'm in your camp completely by the way; anything newer than the Tri-Five Ford/Chevy/Chrysler is considered by me to be late-model. (I've got a completed "fancy paint/billet" 1941 Ford Opera coupe and am building a "Henry steel" A roadster on an old '32 chassis with a Halibrand Culver City quick-change rear, '56 Olds 324 with four 97s and big 'n' little 16-inch wires.) Taking your article one step backward and maybe in the process help to more clearly define the word "hot rod", can you answer this question: What's the derivation of a hot rod? What's its origin? How, when, and where did the saying hot rod get its start? I've asked this question to many guys, both young and old, from the fields of engine building, drag racing, Bonneville racing, parts manufacturers, and shop owners. There doesn't seem to be any one concrete answer, just lots of speculation on everyone's part. Maybe I've missed something along the way (I'm 65), but I've been into hot rodding and car restoration since before high school and have yet to find the answer. I've even gone as far as to ask one of the docents at the California Car Museum in Sacramento, California, to research this question. He found no answer. So, now I'm asking you! Hope you have or can find the answer to this question for me, and maybe a lot of other guys out there as well.
Thanks for all your good work at R&C!
That's a really good question, Dick. I'm surprised you didn't get as much as a speculation from the person you asked at the museum-then again, at least they were honest and didn't try to make something up! And I'll be truthful myself when I say that I'm not totally certain there is a "definitive" answer to that question. Beyond the basic assumption that hot rod is a derivative of "hot roadster", a term coined in the late '30s or early '40s to describe the type of vehicles commonly found competing against one another out on the dry lakes of Southern California-and subsequently, upon the city streets and highways-I can't pinpoint a who, what, where, or when for you. I do hope, however, that your letter will ultimately garner a more precise answer from someone out there, as I'm very curious to know now as well!
Where We're Headed
I hope this latest issue (Apr. '10) isn't the new look of Rod & Custom. There are two cars (nice in their own way) in the issue that really don't fit the content or style of R&C I've been used to, and I've been reading the mag for decades. The '65 car featured on page 26 is more suited for a lowrider-type mag, and the '64 featured on page 88 is more pro touring with its low-profile tires and big rims. Is this the direction you are taking the magazine? If so, I'm not so sure I can take it.
Via the Internet
First off, this is my first time writing to my most favorite magazine ever. I just had to write you after I read the article on Harvey's Broiler because I believe there is no greater pleasure than dealing with hot rods and a historic drive-in-the history of Harvey's, well, speaks for itself. Keep the great articles like this one coming. By the way, the '65 Chevelle is out-of-this-world cool and it captures the era perfect! Thanks for letting me vent, and keep the great stories coming!
Via the Internet
Cory, would you mind explaining it to Phillip above?! I don't believe we've entered new territory with either of the vehicles mentioned.