When you were a kid you probably had some Hot Wheels or Matchbox cars. Sure you probably had the usual race cars, muscles cars and sports cars but you probably also had some hot rods thrown in as well.Â So what exactly is a â??hot rodâ? and how is different from other cars? Letâ??s find out.
It should come as no surprise that there is no clear cut definition for the term. Basically it is a car (usually American) with a large engine modified for maximum linear speed, usually street racing. Right, that is pretty vague. To narrow it down a little more they were almost always roadster due to their lighter weight and powerful engines. A big part of hot rod culture was that owners would modify them themselves. No going to the mechanic here.
The phrase itself could come from any number of sources. Some think it may have been a contraction of the phrase â??hot roadster.â? Hot meaning built for speed.Â Some believe it was a term referring to the replacement of the camshaft sometimes known as the â??stickâ? or â??rod.â? A camshaft that is designed to be more powerful was often called a â??hot stickâ? or â??hot rod.â? Whichever the case may be today we still use this term.
Hot roads tend to have their own very unique look. Usually built from roadsters, which is any open aired, two-seated car optimized for speed, the cars have created quite a stylized look. Large chrome engine often protrude from the hood and cars are often painted bright colors with flames on the sides.
The first cars were often used car for sale such as Ford Model Tâ??s or Model Aâ??s. Back in the 1930â??s these cars were races out on the vast, empty, dry lake beds located outside of Los Angeles. Other cars were created bootleggers to out run police during the prohibition years. Either way, racing foundations were laid.
It didnâ??t get popular though until after World War 2. Many returning soldiers had been given technical and mechanical training during the war and were now looking to put it to good use. Also the end of the war left any number of small, unused military air strips that provided the perfect place to hold races. As popularity rose the need for more safety and organization emerged. It wasnâ??t long before some of the more famous hot rod drivers like Wally Parks created the National Hot Rod Association. A governing body that set up rules and regulations that allowed anyone to compete on a given level.
While not as popular as they once were, there still exists a fervent hot road culture in America, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom. While they technically canâ??t â??street raceâ? like they used to there are still many tracks and old airstrips that allow them to do so. There are literally hundreds of local car clubs that are dedicated to preserving the legacy of this cultural phenomenon.
Jeff Jordan lives and writes in Southern California. He writes about automobiles, education and pop culture. Jazel Auto web sites can help you market your hot rod dealership.
Hot Rod BurnoutsÂ
Image courtesy of Wikipedia