By now you have gathered that STREET RODDER has been around for 30 years (last month was our 30th RodAversary), and during that time we have chronicled the history of our hobby. In fact, we have helped our hobby develop into an industry, albeit a small industry in the overall scheme but an industry nonetheless.
For starters, in the earliest days of SRM we drew no distinction to a vehicle cutoff via year of manufacture. Hey, it was 1972 and a '48 Ford was only 24 years old! (If we were to go back 24 years from now, we would be covering cars that were made as late as 1978!) Remember, when SRM came into being, a full-size, '60-era Chevy was still a relatively new car! In fact, during the first decade or so of production SRM dealt with pretty much all things mechanical. But the times, they're a changing.
It's true SRM has covered '48-and-earlier cars for half of its publishing life; a decision was made to allow the so-called custom rods to appear in our sister publication, Custom Rodder. (The generally accepted definition for a custom rod is a '49-and-later car, recognized up to and including '72. But even that sounds too restrictive, but that's fuel for another fire!)
However, maybe it's time to start thinking about moving the "bar" a bit for SRM. And, what better place to start with you, the reader. What do you think about later cars appearing on the pages? Bad idea? Good idea? Give us some input. (The best way would be to e-mail me and I can print a cross-section of letters.)Now, what would the cutoff be? Would you expect SRM to go all the way up to and including '72, or would you be more comfortable with our covering cars up to '67 or maybe a much earlier cutoff---say '54! You tell us. In fact, you tell us if this is a good idea or "are we nuts" and should we "leave well enough alone."
Think about it. Most of the cars built through 1954 are currently constructed by rodders, car guys whose previous experience is based in a Model A, Model 40, or some fat-fendered ride whether it be a Ford, Chevy, or Mopar.
We all pretty much agree that the Tri-Five crowd, while there are some beautiful cars in that group, generally take a different approach than the traditional rodder. Of course, no sooner will you read this then Bill Mullins from Mullins Steering Gear will personally drive his double-nickel Chevy right over my head. His '55 post car is as beautiful a Chevy as you will ever find, and it was built the way a rodder would do it.
Of course, the list goes on from here. Rod builders like Barry Lobeck, POSIES, Bobby Alloway, and on have all built '50s and '60s cars in a manner that any street rodder would drool over. So what is the cutoff? Do we stay put or do we expand the horizon?
If you are asking me what my personal tastes are, or even if you didn't, here goes. I am of the belief that our industry, the manufacturers who bring us the products we have come to depend upon, are consistently looking for new markets. It's the nature of the biz to keep moving forward, for once you stop going forward, you are going backwards in the business world. And, that's the first step out the door, so to speak.
I would like to see SRM expand its sphere of influence into later years, at least up to and including '54. Why, because so many of these cars are getting caught in a "no man's land" in the publishing world. Yet these cars are incredible, and the builders deserve recognition for these efforts. Hey, it also gives us a larger base to build SRM upon.
You say, "What about the associations that service our hobby/industry from an event standpoint?" Good point. The Goodguys Rod & Custom Association has addressed that point from the get-go. They have events that go up to and include the model year of 1972. In speaking with officials from this association, the year cutoff for an event is generally determined by what facilities (fairgrounds, hotels, restaurants, etc...) that are available for a typical three-day event.
For instance, you get an event like Pleasanton that consistently draws 4,000-plus cars of '54-and-earlier vintage. The town of Pleasanton and its fairgrounds, as well as the other required facilities, can't handle much more in the way of participants, hence the cutoff.
Yet, you can go to Columbus, Ohio, for the Goodguys biggie--the Nationals--and it's a different story. Here you have 6,000-plus cars and trucks that go up to and include the model year of 1972. The city can handle this kind of crowd, so the more the merrier.
As for the National Street Rod Association, they have since the beginning catered to the '48-and-earlier crowd and have done a fine job. (It should be noted that in the early '70s there was a Street Machine Division that catered to the '49-and-later crowd, but the NSRA opted not to continue this effort.)Now the problem is many of the NSRA events draw so well, for instance over 10,000 street rods at their Nats in Louisville. The host city just can't deal with much more vehicular traffic. So, what to do?
Well, regional events are becoming more and more popular. We watch them grow for both associations, and this takes some of the strain off the events already maxed out. The industry side of our hobby, SEMA/SRMA/ARMO, has now recognized that their efforts don't stop at '48s but continue all the way to '72s.What do you think? Drop me a line. I will share the best with all, and who knows, maybe someday in the not-so-distant future STREET RODDER will be covering some distinctly different, yet appealing, rods.