Did we mention that it was our birthday? R&C's first-ever issue was May 1953, which makes us 50 years old.

In 1948, Robert E. Petersen began publishing Hot Rod Magazine, the first national publication for a small, but growing, group of rodders. A few miles away in Burbank, California, John Bond, publisher of Road & Track , saw the success Petersen was having with Hot Rod Magazine and started his own digest-sized rod magazine, called Hop Up , in 1951. After only a few issues, Bond lost interest in the new publication and sold Hop Up to one of his employees, William S.Quinn. As Hop Up grew from its small format into a full-sized magazine, and expanded into broader automotive topics, Quinn and his staff began to think about starting another pocket-sized mag that would return to Hop Up 's original focus: hot rods and custom cars. In May of 1953, Quinn Publications introduced RODS AND CUSTOMS . A month later, the title was shortened to Rod & Custom, with the logo that has remained essentially unchanged to this day.

R&C's staff consisted of Quinn, Editor Spencer Murray, Managing Editor Lou Kimsey, Photographers Gene Trindl and Ralph Poole, and Ad Manager Jack Caldwell. Hop Up Editor Dean Batchelor contributed to the launch, and Barney Navarro was on board as tech editor by the second issue. In April '54, R&C absorbed Hop Up ; the cover logo read "Combined with Hop Up " for a year. Later that year, Petersen purchased the magazine he had indirectly help create. The July '55 issue was the first to list Petersen's name as publisher.

The Rod & Custom history includes a few stops and starts. In 1971, we published our farewell issue. A year later, Tom Medley, Bud Bryan, and Gray Baskerville revived R&C for two years, before it was absorbed into Hot Rod Magazine (from 1974 to 1981, HR's logo read, "Combined with Rod & Custom "). Rod & Custom came back as a bimonthly magazine at the end of 1988 and went monthly in 1993. We're not planning on closing up shop again.

It would be a kick to say that R&C was there at the birth of hot rodding, but that would be fudging history a little bit. By the time we appeared on the scene, this hobby had been in existence for about 20 years. Even so, we can honestly boast that we were one of the first magazines to promote this pastime, have covered every aspect the hot rod and custom car scene, and have even played a part in starting a few trends.

Here, we present a selection of those trends, along with some of the cars, people, styles, and events that have defined rodding during the past 50 years. We're sure we left out some of your favorite R&C milestones. Don't feel bad; we left out a lot of our own, too. Since we don't have the room to present every moment in the history of R&C, we offer a scrapbook of high points and cool memories from our first 50 years. Hope you enjoy it.

Next time: Talking to some of the editors who influenced R&C.