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Before It Was an Outlaw

Were you to park a ’14 Chevy Malibu next to a ’56 Bel Air and open the hoods of each, the contrast would be remarkable. The Malibu’s short, wide engine bay is so full of plastic covers, tubes, hoses, wires, bottles and other equipment that the car’s four-cylinder engine is barely visible—if at all. The Bel Air’s Turbo-Fire V8, on the other hand, stands out in the ’56 Chevy’s spacious engine compartment, covered in bright orange paint and hooked to a canister air cleaner, a couple of radiator hoses and little else. Ask any shadetree mechanic why he prefers to work on old collector cars over today’s computer- and emissions-controlled vehicles and the answer usually comes down to: “They were so much simpler then.”
SEMA News—October 2014

SEMA Heritage

Before It Was an Outlaw

By Drew Hardin
Photo Courtesy of the Petersen Archive

Is Your Future in the Automobile Industry?

Were you to park a ’14 Chevy Malibu next to a ’56 Bel Air and open the hoods of each, the contrast would be remarkable. The Malibu’s short, wide engine bay is so full of plastic covers, tubes, hoses, wires, bottles and other equipment that the car’s four-cylinder engine is barely visible—if at all. The Bel Air’s Turbo-Fire V8, on the other hand, stands out in the ’56 Chevy’s spacious engine compartment, covered in bright orange paint and hooked to a canister air cleaner, a couple of radiator hoses and little else. Ask any shadetree mechanic why he prefers to work on old collector cars over today’s computer- and emissions-controlled vehicles and the answer usually comes down to: “They were so much simpler then.”
SEMA News—September 2014

HERITAGE

Torrid Two-Wheelers

Given the serious looks on their faces, you’d think these men, clad in leather jackets, helmets, and boots, were vying for the national flat-track motorcycle championship. But, no, they were racing in the second-annual Mini-Bike Jamboree, which took place in the spring of 1961 at the Go Kart Raceway in Azusa, California. The minibike craze was big enough in the early ’60s that Car Craft magazine set aside four pages of its August 1961 issue to cover the Jamboree and its flat-track race, road race and scramble, “which took in much of the unimproved terrain surrounding the Azusa track.”Azusa was home to Go Kart Manufacturing, one of the pioneering go-kart fabricators in the mid-’50s, and the race track was located at its facility. Minibikes were a natural offshoot of...
SEMA News—August 2014

HERITAGE
By Drew Hardin

The Great California Street Rod Civil War

At the 1973 Street Rod Nationals (or so the story goes), rod builders Andy Brizio and Lil’ John Buttera got into a, shall we say, friendly discussion about which end of the Golden State produced the best street rods. Southern Californian Buttera ribbed Brizio, who was from South San Francisco, about how the Bay Area cars were “average” mechanically but were topped by outstanding paint jobs to make them seem more special. Brizio, in turn, said L.A. turned out trick show cars that couldn’t be driven very far. One thing led to another and (so the story goes) the discussion devolved into a “my new car will be better than your new car” challenge.
SEMA News—July 2014

HERITAGE

By Drew Hardin
Photo Courtesy Petersen Archives

Be Your Own Disc Jockey!

If you think texting while driving is a distraction, imagine changing 45-rpm records while barreling down the highway. “Wherever you go, listen to your favorite sounds by being your own disc jockey,” wrote Bud Lang in this Car Craft magazine how-to from 1963. “At the drags, beach, mountains or while just cruising around with the guys or your favorite chick, you can now play your own 45-rpm platters on an automatic reject record [ARC] changer that is designed for genuine driving pleasure.”

SEMA News—June 2014

SEMA HERITAGE

By Drew Hardin
Photo Courtesy Petersen Archives

Stu Hilborn

Hilborn was among those who raced on Southern California’s dry lakes in the years prior to World War II. Ironically for a man whose name is now synonymous with fuel injection, Hilborn had little mechanical knowledge when he bought his first hot rod in the ’30s. But he had a neighbor who did—Indy 500 veteran Eddie Miller. Miller helped Hilborn build a flathead-powered Model A that could hit 120 mph on the lakes, and Hilborn proved to be a quick study, in all senses of the word, and he soon wanted to go faster. To do so, he bought a narrow streamliner that had been raced by Bill Warth.
SEMA News—May 2014

HERITAGE

Stu Hilborn

By Drew Hardin
Photo Courtesy Petersen Archives

The Kiss

You could say that much of Anthony “Andy” Granatelli’s life had been leading up to this day, this moment. The man known as “Mr. 500” seemed irresistibly drawn to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. In 1946, he and his brothers Vince and Joe sponsored a car in the first Indy 500 after World War II but watched it sputter to a stop, out of fuel, before completing the race. Two years later Andy tried driving at Indy but crashed hard in practice. Grancor, the speed shop and warehouse-distribution business the brothers formed in Chicago, sponsored Indy roadsters in the ’50s, and the Granatellis brought Novi roadsters back to run the Brickyard for several years in the early and mid ’60s.
SEMA News—April 2014

HERITAGE
By Drew Hardin
Photo Courtesy Petersen Archives

Dawn of an Era

Actually, the photo you see here represents the dawn of several eras. The picture was taken at the very first SEMA Show, which was known in 1967 as the High Performance & Custom Trade Show and was held in January of that year at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. The car in the booth is a Camaro, Chevrolet’s answer to Ford’s wildly popular Mustang. After letting Ford own the personal sporty-car market for more than two years, Chevrolet finally introduced its entry into the pony-car segment just a few months prior to the trade show. For musclecar enthusiasts, the booth represents a watershed moment—the very first Chevrolet dealer, Nickey Chicago, to offer a big-block conversion for the Camaro, developed by Nickey and race car builder Bill Thomas.

SEMA News—March 2014

HERITAGE
By Drew Hardin
Photo Courtesy Petersen Archives

New Craze

HERITAGENot everything on the cover of Hot Rod magazine in the ’60s was, well, a hot rod. In fact, the editors seemed to be looking for “the next big thing” during a period in 1966, as several issues in a row featured vehicles not usually found in “Everybody’s Automotive Magazine.” There was a painting of customizer George Barris and some of his most famous TV cars on the cover of the June issue; a Super Modified oval-track racer all crossed up in the dirt on the July issue; and a hot-rodded ski boat on the September cover.

SEMA News—February 2014

HERITAGE
By Drew Hardin
Photo Courtesy Petersen Archives

Putten der Growl in der Beetle

At first glance, it would seem that hot-rodding magazines in the ‘60s were all about high-horsepower, big-cubic-inch stuff—drag racing, Bonneville, Indy and the explosion of a new-car segment that we now know as musclecars. But every once in a while, the magazines would branch out into foreign territory (pun intended) and check in with what was happening on the VW tuning front. After a rocky start in the United States—probably too soon after World War II—Volkswagen sales had really taken off by the mid-’60s, with millions of the little Bugs on the road. There was a growing aftermarket for the cars by then as owners looked for ways to get more performance out of their wheezing, flat-four motors.

SEMA News—January 2014

HERITAGE

By Drew Hardin
Photo Courtesy Petersen Archives

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