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A History of the American Hot Rod

Hot Rods

The hot rod is an American tradition, a classic car with an engine modified for speed and power. Few innovations channel the American spirit as completely as the hot rod, with its focus on the raw speed, rebellious freedom, and plucky ingenuity that make this country great. Like America itself, the hot rod has a colorful history, one that stretches back to the old-school days of automobile modification.


The Early Days


During the Great Depression, sales of new cars plummeted as many out-of-work people weren’t able to afford them. Instead, many young families purchased older cars and modified them to suit their needs. Wide swaths of young people became car enthusiasts overnight as they learned how to swap out old engines and replace them with powerful V8s, or strip away inessential bulk from the body of the car to reduce weight and increase speed. Modifying cars for speed became a popular hobby, one that only grew as young men returned from World War II full of mechanical and engineering skills they’d learned in the army.


Hot Rodding Takes Off


The National Hot Rod Association was formed in 1951, and car enthusiasts began to mix with the growing rock and roll subculture to create an explosion of tough, speed-obsessed youth. James Dean’s classic movie Rebel Without a Cause spreads like wildfire among young people of the day, with its scenes of drag racing and teenage rebellion.


Hot Rod Muscle Cars of the Modern Age


In recent years, movies like the Fast and the Furious franchise have turned car modification from a small-scale venture into a major enterprise, with enthusiasts using the most cutting-edge engineering techniques that science has to offer in creating cars that can tear up track at incredible speeds.


Whether you’re ready to purchase the hot rod you’ve always wanted, or you’re looking for a different type of classic car or truck, let Vanguard Motor Sales help you park your dream car in your driveway. Stop by our showroom, or contact us today!

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