The hot rod wouldn't exist if nobody bothered to turn rules on their heads. The pioneers who preceded us made a cause taking older, modest cars that were as a rule nothing more than underpowered transportation, and making them go very fast-oftentimes far faster than the purpose-built sports cars those home-brew builders aspired to own. With their emphasis on the individual and the rejection of conventionalism you'd think the industry they spawned would be unencumbered by rules.

But it's not. In fact, we operate almost entirely by rules. Don't believe me? OK, try this.

If I described a car with disc-type wheels, hubcaps, redline tires, a boat-type windshield, quick-change axle, and dual quads on a small-block Chevy bristling with fins, you'd probably build a traditional-looking car in your head. But if I said 18-inch billet wheels, low-profile radial tires, electronic gauges and ignition, coil springs, and multi-stage polyurethane paint, your mind's eye would see an altogether different-looking car-a more modern, high-tech one perhaps. Each style has its own set of rules.

Sociologists call that type of categorization mental labeling, and it's largely the mechanism that taught us to avoid predatory animals and poisonous foods. But in this case our notions of traditional and contemporary prevent many of us from realizing those two descriptions were the same car. This car.

I haven't asked him specifically so I can't say it definitively, but I would hazard to guess that Claude Freund wasn't thinking in those specific terms when he built his roadster. No, he said the same thing we all say: He just wanted a cool-looking car. But the line he took follows a path established by hot rodders of yore, which is to say that he used the parts available to him to achieve a particular objective.

Of course time has radically changed the terms and conditions of availability. For example, real '33 roadsters might have been available for a few hundred bucks at the midpoint of the last century; however, they aren't anymore. Their rarity and collectability make the reproductions like the Wescott Auto Restyling body more feasible. And really the same could be said of the chassis: In the eyes of a builder unconcerned with historical accuracy, the cost of buying and refurbishing a frame that just celebrated its Diamond Jubilee made the already modified Pete & Jakes version more appealing. Though new, its components-the beam axle, hairpins, transverse front spring, ladder bars, and quick-change rear axle-acknowledge history.

Some will surely grumble, but the remainder of the car arguably follows various definitions of tradition: people have swapped small-block Chevrolets since the Eisenhower years; the TH350 transmission bolted to that engine debuted the same year we landed on the moon; and the quick-change rear axle design that it drives has roots to at least the '40s.

But the rest of the car blurs the line between new and old. The wheels, for example, look like the ones Ford adopted in 1940, however, their great diameter and computer-aided construction make them nothing if not blatantly new. Even the tires, with their red stripes and low-profile radial construction, similarly bridge the generation gap. The punchy blue paint that Claude's son, Russ, sprayed evokes hybridized sporty Brit cars of the '60s but its sophisticated resins ensure a type of gloss and durability unheard of even a few years ago. Solid-state construction ensures that the ignition will fire consistently for probably the life of the car and microprocessors promise that the gauges will read accurately.