Hot Rods Are Cool, Still and Forever

1935 Ford Custom

In the car world the really creative hot-rod nuts who toil in crummy backyard garages or expensive custom workshops are the ones the car media ought to celebrate. But mostly, they don’t get no respect.

Hemmings compared the gorgeous Chip Foose creation above, a 1935 Ford Custom Coupe, to cars of the past created by custom coachbuilders. Or, as one commenter (Rick Block) put it:

Nowadays, folks like Chip Foose create a completely different chassis and mate an engine unrelated to the chassis. I think it would be more fitting to say Foose etal would be called constructors, much like the english and/or american sports car companies such as Shelby, Caterham and Lotus [sic].

Hot rods are really a combination of both approaches, and we’ll show you a few we like. The U.S. Senate, which can’t do anything much else these days, has designated July 8 as “National Collector Car Appreciation Day.” Collectors and restorers of old cars deserve to be celebrated.

Original 1935 Ford Coupe

Here’s an original 1935 Ford three-window coupe, like the car that inspired the Foose concept.

1932 Ford Deuce Coupe RoadsterThe classic “deuce coupe”-inspired 1932 Ford Roadster, the car that hot-rodders have always loved to transform. This one is by Rick Smith of Quincy, Mass., and is powered by a much-modified small-block Ford with Weber carbs.

1933 Ford by John ReidAnother Ford classic, this one a 1933, by John Reid of New Zealand. Power comes from a hemi with twin carbs.

1953 Studebaker Coupe projectWeird hot rods abound. This one is a ’53 Studebaker being worked on at Brown’s Metal Mods, a shop in Indianapolis. The final result may not be weird.

CadzzillaNow one from Boyd Coddington, the hot-rod king who died three years ago. Above is the Cadzzilla, designed by Larry Ericson and built by Coddington for Billy Gibbons of the rock band ZZ Top. Price was around $900K.

Foose Hemisfear CoupeThe Foose Hemisfear came from Coddington’s protégé and is really the ancestor of the 1997 Plymouth Prowler. Look back at the Ford roadsters, and you can see the clear heritage.

Have you ever owned or built a hot-rod? Tell us about it.


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Used Plymouth Prowler


  1. All hot rods r Kool keep a lot of people gainfully employed friendly2 each h joys of their labor creativity ideas metalworking and a host of related su things that help the world go round one way or another y

  2. Nova wagons are quite rare, I sure wouldn’t cut one up for a hot rod.

  3. I’m solidly on the side of accurate restorations. There are so many classic cars around here that have been butchered into hot rods that going to a show and seeing literally hundreds of them, it actually becomes boring. With that kind of field, a clean, accurate restoration really stands out and I doff my hat to the owner who resists the temptation to chop and channel to give us a glimpse of what motoring was like eighty years ago.
    On the other hand, I did grow up on the custom creations of guys like Dean Jeffries and George Barris. While yet another 32 Ford hot rod is not exciting, one-off stuff like Monkeemobiles, Batmobiles and Munster coaches are pretty cool.

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