All of us would love to have a crystal ball. Or, at least some inkling of what lies ahead. This is true in our home, business and, of course, our rodding lives. All of us would dearly love to gain a "step" or have a heads-up as to what life holds in store for us. It's only natural.

For starters, wouldn't you like to know that everyone in your family is going to be happy and healthy in the upcoming year? Of course you would. In fact, some of us would even like to know if there is an impending downswing so that we could prepare. This is even more true for some in their business lives. There is nothing as unnerving as employment status, or lack thereof. (Hmmm, I better check with HR.)

However, we are all car guys and gals so let's take a look at what the future, or at least next year, might hold in store for our rodding lives. My crystal ball is strikingly similar to what many of you would call a desktop telephone. After calling indoor promoters around the country as well as builders, I think this upcoming year will be another winner. Look for a number of outstanding roadsters making a bid to win the Grand National Roadster Show and the accompanying America's Most Beautiful Roadster award. Add to this the "usual" crop of incredible open and closed cars of all years, makes, and descriptions that will compete at the Detroit AutoRama for the coveted Don Ridler Award. And wouldn't you know it, Street Rodder has already managed to gather up car features on some of the likely (in our humble opinion) frontrunners at both of these shows. Take this knowledge and the usual sampling of rods that are in the process of garnering Street Rodder Top Ten awards and this year's Street Rodder Street Rod of the Year should prove to be something awesome.

No questions about it there are several build styles that show no sign of slowing down. The traditional, or resto-look, or whatever you wish to call it, is still going strong and will continue to do so for another year. We are also seeing plenty of smoothies being built. (And, I thought this style had seen its day and would vanish. Apparently not.)

The Pro Street is still alive and well, especially in the East and to some degree in the South as well. The West Coast is still infatuated with the roadster and the highboy (closed or open, either will work).

However, what appears to be an emerging trend is the coming out of larger-than-life street rods. Take a close look at next month's (Dec. '04) issue of SRM and you will see what I mean. In it will appear '41 Nashs, '36 Packards, one-of-a-kinds like the Coddington Whatahey, and others that fall into this category of "super-sized" street rods, which, I think, are here to stay. These cars are fun to look at because of their size as well as the nifty ideas one can gather from browsing.

The modifieds are still going strong and Zipper Motors is introducing several other versions (an open and closed car) so we should continue to see these "mini" rods prosper. To further champion the modified cause wait 'til you see the latest creation from Lil' John Buttera. It will take this genre, and rodding, to even further heights. John has a way of doing this with his overflowing imagination perfectly matched to his skills.

Performance is alive and well. There is no question that the crate engine program is just what the rodding Doc ordered. However, not only have these programs offered rodders with spectacular options for horsepower and torque, but aftermarket parts manufacturers are offering more and more product that will not only produce power but do so reliably. That's the truly exciting part. To this we will see more and more intercooled supercharged powerplants capable of producing gobs of useable horsepower. Now that's very cool. To this we will also see more and more on electronic fuel injection, which brings performance, lower emissions, and enhanced mileage.

In the world of performance let's not forget handling and braking. The track testing that SRM has embarked on will continue to grow. We have learned a great deal and will be expanding this program as well as bringing you, the reader, even more useful and fun info. Handling and braking go right along with engine performance. In fact, all of us should really build a car that has ample braking and handling and then dial-in a "mild" amount of power. In this way we can actually drive our street rod!

Talking about driving...the reliable powertrains coupled with handling and braking are allowing our street rods to be driven further and more frequently in all sorts of weather--should you choose to do so during a rainstorm, like some of the staff already does. Personally, I still have a hang-up with trailered cars, but I guess that is my problem and shouldn't bother anyone else. Well, I guess that's what my crystal ball tells me about this coming year. E-mail me and tell me what you think is going to happen. I can use all the insight I can get.