Lately you may have noticed a growing number of street rods of substantial substance. Allow me to elaborate. Some would say incredible style, craftsmanship, quality, and (gulp!) vast budgets. While the majority of us can only dream of owning a street rod of such essence we can still appreciate the effort. With our collective egos left at the garage door, all of us should recognize these cars as tremendous accomplishments. Really!

For starters, the Chip Foose-designed/built '36 Ford roadster belonging to Ken Reister is the "rod of note" for 2005. It outdistanced the highly competitive field, winning this year's Detroit Autorama Ridler award, and is an early favorite for the 2006 Grand National Roadster Show's America's Most Beautiful Roadster title.

Think back to other rods debuted over the past year and note how each raised the bar--and then look back and note how each of these efforts can benefit you in your next project.

Let's start with the Eric Peratt (Pinkee's Rod Shop) designed/built '29 Ford roadster pickup belonging to Royce Glader that was a finalist at this year's Grand National Roadster Show. Always a crowd favorite, it took home the Go for the Gold Fine Nine award, which included a $20,000 cash award. (Another gulp!) It was also a "car of interest" at Detroit and Blackie's Fresno Autorama. Did we mention that this roadster pickup explored new ground (the evolution of the rat rod) for high-end street rods, and did it oh so successfully?

How about the lil' board track racer from Creative Concepts? Zane Cullen and his staff "cowboyed up" (to use vernacular of the day) and created a street rod that truly explores the history of performance, blending new technology and historic appearance to achieve a look that is ripped from the pages of history. This street rod was a huge favorite at the most recent SEMA Show, where there are literally hundreds of mind-bending, budget-busting efforts--but the board racer was the favorite.

But there's more. The Troy Trepanier (Rad Rides by Troy) designed/built '32 Ford highboy belonging to Roger Ritzow captured the title of the 2004 Goodguys Street Rod of the Year presented by Eagle One. The car is still being talked about as one of, if not the, most superbly crafted and detailed 1932 Ford highboy roadster ever built. How's that for intimidating!

Then there's Steve Moal (Moal Inc.), who has built any number of finely crafted street rods, and one of his most recent efforts is the 1932 Ford highboy roadster called Seduced. Owned by Paul and Erik Hansen, the highboy was in the running for the Detroit Autorama Ridler award in '04 and won the America's Most Beautiful Roadster award at the '05 Grand National Roadster Show.

There are other keynote Moal creations, such as Eric Zausner's Ferrari V-12-powered one-of-a-kind, as well as his all-new Speedway Special, a blue '32 Ford roadster fired by a 450hp Ardun-Ford V-8. Be on the lookout for the most recent Moal creation to appear in STREET RODDER: the Bob Dron radically channeled, scarlet red '32 2 Low retro-lowboy roadster.

Moving into the realm of superb craftsmanship coupled with fun, there's Jon Hall's all-new red '27 Model T highboy roadster on Deuce 'rails. Jon's T has been described as a "scoch bigger," maybe because he opted to make the body fit the Deuce frame rather than fitting the frame to the car--a common practice. The Hall team scaled up the time honored Model T dimensions, creating a Tin Lizy roadster that fits modern rodders (ah ... taller, wider, and heavier!).

Other creations of noteworthy effort are the Aluma-Tub and the Whatahey, both belonging to Scotty Gray and designed/built by Boyd Coddington and his crew. The Aluma-Tub (1929 Ford Model A highboy phaeton) possesses both unique styling and execution via its all-aluminum presentation--body, chassis components, engine, etc ... this rod is a recycler's dream.

The Whatahey may have a funny name, but there is nothing hilarious about its '30s-era styling coupled with modern rodding touches. This is one rod that wears its "Clark Gable" heritage on its fender.

Well, that about wraps it up, but there are two other worthy "honorable" mentions to this illustrative list of really, really well-built and mighty kool street rods. Be on the lookout for the latest, and possibly last, effort from Lil' John Buttera. He is on the verge of releasing his polished (yes polished) aluminum body lakes-modified, torsion suspension--and wait until you see the wheels on this beauty.

And, back to the beginning. Chip Foose is designing and building something for himself (yep his own rod), which he hopes to debut at the 2006 Detroit Autorama. If you are expecting another Titan seeking the Ridler, you will be sadly mistaken. His goal is to debut his P32 highboy roadster in the "basement" of next year's Autorama. You see the basement is the hangout for the X-treme rods--you are gonna love his V-12 Lincoln-powered hot rod. What's the theme? Well, image a WWII fighter pilot several years after VJ Day pining away for his fighter plane. Interested? Hang in there!

What does all this mean? We are living in the new era of coachbuilt rods. Another level, another standard is before us. Many of us remember as hot rods evolved into resto rods, into street rods, into phantom rods, into coachbuilt rods. Yep, the times they are a changin' right before our eyes. This is a great time to be a rodder.