What Is Hot Rodding? Part II

SEMA Member News—September/October 2012

What Is Hot Rodding? Part II


What is a hot rod? You know it when you see it! 


We included seven definitions of a “hot rod” from Hot Rod Industry Alliance (HRIA) friends in the last issue of SEMA Member News. Here are seven more from industry leaders.

Brent Vandervort, Owner, Fat Man Fabrications

A hot rod is anything that will make your parents/wife/partner roll their eyes and shake their heads, wondering if you will ever grow up. Anything that turns money into noise, speed and trouble while making you smile. It is also anything mechanical that teaches you new skills and makes new friends. Any automobile that is modified in order to improve reliability, safety, speed, power, economy, appearance, comfort, handling and braking to be more attuned to the specific desires of the owner/builder. Since those attributes are subject to individual taste, the variety of types of automobile and modifications will be endless, but they are all hot rods, regardless of the year, make, style or age/preferences of the owners.

Rick Love, Executive Vice President, Vintage Air

Hot rodding is about driving cool old cars and enjoying the friendship of other hot rodders. The process of improving the performance and drivability of an old car is definitely a part of it, but it is also about giving an old car just the right look. The paint, the wheels and the stance all come together to create a total package that just looks right. It’s a great feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction when your project rolls out of the garage looking just like you had pictured it in your mind when the process began. It’s also about getting together with friends and spending a Saturday working with your hands to fabricate a part or just work on your car. Good times!

Brett Voelkel, Owner, Ride Tech

A hot rod is any motor vehicle that has been modified for increased performance as defined by appearance, comfort, convenience, speed or handling to fit the taste and personality of the owner. These modifications can be as simple as a new air cleaner and range to a full-tilt, tube-frame, 1,000hp car with a $100,000 paint job. There are literally hundreds of customizing styles and types of racing that can be addressed based on the taste, talent and budget of the owner.

Craig Pike, Owner, MyRideIsMe.com

Hot Rod Industry Alliance (HRIA) - SEMA CouncilHot rodding is a story told by the owners every time they’re behind the wheel. Defining each story might be impossible, but they follow some common themes: character destruction, then building back up, or convention and rebellion. From the polished and perfect to the rusty and loud, hot rodders also extend an often grease-covered hand to other hot rodders at shows, cruises and drive-ins. The stories are eagerly shared, compared and then retold, building long-lasting friendships or foundations for another great story. Classic or thriller or even mystery, the stories are all worth hearing.

Sam Memmolo, TV Host, “Motorhead Garage”

The definition of a hot rod is any vehicle that has been modified to make it lighter, faster and more maneuverable than it was in the original manufacturer’s form. A hot rod is usually an extension of its creator, often reflecting the creator’s personality, ingenuity and craftsmanship. If you go back to the original hot rods, you will often see stock-bodied vehicles with fenders, running boards and other body components removed to make them lighter and allow vehicle modifications, such as channeling and sectioning. These types of body modifications allowed lowered centers of gravity and better handling. Hot rodding is the embodiment of American ingenuity and freedom.

Wade Kawasaki, Executive Vice President, Coker Tire

The term “hot rod” has evolved since it began by souping up a Flathead and removing the fenders and running boards from your Model A. These days, musclecars with superchargers and tubed chassis, imports with turbochargers and sophisticated fuel map controllers and even factory efforts like the Porsche GT3RS could be classified as hot rods. In other words, a modern hot rod may just be as broad as my definition above and is more about the culture than the type of car.

Dennis Overholser, Owner, Painless Performance

I was once told that hot rodding was a socially acceptable way of being an exhibitionist in the automotive enthusiast world. We each express ourselves through the cars we love, whether they are ultimate show winners or everyday drivers, whether they are heavily modified or basically stock. It’s all about pride in what we do. A thumbs-up from someone else while traveling down the highway will always create a smile.

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