Jim Clark attended the second Street Rod Nationals in Memphis to collect material for our
The growth of STREET RODDER will forever be linked to the loyalty of you, our readers. Coupled with this is an important ingredient to the wellbeing of SR and the hobby. Barely noticeable in the '60s, it began to come into its own in the '70s and then enjoyed enormous growth throughout the '80s. It's this birth of an industry and its continued growth that has us where we are today.
Senior Editor Ron Ceridono said it best when he pointed out, "As raw building materials from wrecking yards and other traditional sources began to disappear, the fledgling aftermarket developed new products to replace them. As a result, today it's possible to build the street rod of your dreams from all new parts."
In an attempt to give you a look at 40 years of SR we thought we would present the timeline of a magazine and an industry. We have selected 40 products from the past 40 years that didn't exist before SR but came about because of a rapidly growing industry. However, the desire by more and more hot rodders to build a car and build it quickly created an industry to satisfy this desire. The collection of parts you see are early examples of products all of us know about, many of us have used, and plenty of us will continue to desire for years to come.
"I sure hope you guys make it."
—Tom Bigby, Stilwell, Oklahoma, Rodder Mail
STREET RODDER magazine, May 1972, Vol. 1, No. 1
"Suddenly, it's 1948. A strange and wonderful metamorphosis has come over hot rodding in this past decade, a change quiet and subtle but ever so decisive. Street rodding has surprised all but those who know by emerging as a major factor in the hot rod sport, ranking second to none as the foundation for automotive enthusiasm these next many years." — LeRoi "Tex" Smith
Those words comprise the opening paragraph of an article called "Street Rodding: State of the Art" that appeared in the May '72 issue of STREET RODDER magazine. Tex Smith, one of SR's founding fathers, had no crystal ball, so any prediction of where street rodding would lead in the "next many years", could only be a combination of educated guessing and wishful thinking.
From our vantage point here at the end of 2012, it's easy to see that Tex got it absolutely right—and to realize that he was smart to not get too specific with his predictions. Because without that crystal ball, nobody could have known that street rodding, or STREET RODDER for that matter, would still be going strong in the 21st century, or have foreseen some of the twists and turns in the road leading from 1972 to 2012.
Street Rod Shows
Car shows dedicated to street rods and customs were already well established by the early '70s. The Grand National Roadster Show goes back to 1950, two years after the famous Hot Rod Exposition—not to mention get-togethers at the local drive-in. But when Tex Smith and Tom Medley organized the first Street Rod Nationals in Peoria, in 1970, the timing coincided perfectly with the Street Rod Revival.
STREET RODDER has covered NSRA events ever since, in addition to hundreds of other events, including the L.A. Roadsters Show. Goodguys has been evolving its own rod and custom shows since 1983. Today, shows across the country provide rodders with a destination to drive to, and a chance to show off their street rods—as well as giving spectators the chance to see the country's best cars—in a setting hundreds of times larger than the drive-in. Our own driving events, like Tom's Fun Run and the Road Tour, have taken the show on the road, and our Top 100 program has given us the chance to participate in the presentation of awards. And, as always, shows provide SR with a large amount of material
The first issue of SR introduced readers to the two men who contributed to this magazine more than any other: Henry HiRise and his creator, artist Dave Bell. Henry promised us from the start that he'd "be doing wild things the cartoonist hasn't even thought of yet." We were sad to say goodbye to Dave earlier this year, but for 40 years, Henry HiRise kept his word and kept us entertained with his cartoon enthusiasm.
Coilovers simplified the installation of suspension systems and offered easy adjustments o
The First 40 Years
Forty years ago saw a revival of a hobby that was born in Southern California 40 years earlier. Hot rodding started growing in the mid '30s. Interest in going fast in a street car was great, and expansive dry lakes on the edge of the Mojave Desert provided an irresistible playground.
Before long, enthusiasts organized into car clubs. It didn't take long before several clubs formed the Southern California Timing Association (SCTA), with the goal of organizing and promoting their activities. They raced their street cars, driving them to the lakes, and stripping off the windshields, headlights, fenders, and other components to save weight. And they drove them home.
Project Street Pickup, Tom McMullen’s wild ’70 Dodge van pickup project commenced in the A
The "need for speed" prompted the need for speed parts, and talented parts builders started businesses selling the speed equipment they developed to other racers. Stu Hilborn, Ed Iskenderian, and Vic Edelbrock are a few of the guys who established the early performance aftermarket. History would repeat itself in the '70s, but we'll get to that.
Hot rodding took a hit in the '40s when America entered World War II. Shortages of supplies and materials, and a large portion of young men entering the military (not all young men were hot rodders but almost all hot rodders were young men), suspended the hobby for a few years. The effect of the war on the hobby is another historical event that would repeat itself.
“Glass is class” was the motto; with vintage tin disappearing, fiberglass bodies gave the
After the war, hot rodding exploded. Thousands of soldiers returned from overseas, many with mechanical skills learned in the service. Many of those returning servicemen landed in California, where good weather and good jobs were waiting for them.
In the '50s, the racing that was created on the dry lakes turned into an organized, sanctioned sport. There was not much room for cheap, dual/purpose hot rods, and the hobby split in two—rods built for racing and rods built for the street. The term "street rod" was coined, and appearance started to become as important as speed. Competition was not limited to the track. Hot rod and custom car shows made it possible to win an award without even driving your car. The growing number of hot rod and custom car magazines popularized the hobby nationwide and promoted every trend. Movies also played a role in publicizing hot rods—although frequently in a negative way. Television shows did a better job of creating a more appealing image, particularly 77 Sunset Strip, featuring Norm Grabowski's T roadster pickup, forever after famous as the "Kookie Car". Meanwhile, the aftermarket was continuing to grow, getting a big bump with the introduction of the Chevy small-block.
Long before Tom McMullen launched STREET RODDER, his ’32 roadster was a hot rod icon. This
By the '60s, the influence of customs had bled into the hot rod hobby. Paint, powerplants, interiors, and trim got wilder and then went ballistic. ISCA was formed in 1963 to organize the rules of show competition. Builders like Ed Roth, George Barris, Dean Jeffries, and Darryl Starbird were creating extremely modified—even entirely fabricated—rods that would have been unpredictable—and unrecognizable—to the guys running their stripped-down, black roadsters on the dry lakes.
Complete custom rolling chassis bring contemporary handling to virtually any vintage car.
End of an Era
Another war weakened hot rod participation during the '60s when a new generation of enthusiasts-turned-soldiers was sent to Vietnam. This time the effect on the hobby was compounded by two other societal events—the youth movement and the introduction of the muscle car.
The youth movement chilled an enthusiasm for nostalgia in favor of new, modern styles. Muscle cars came along at the right time to take advantage of that. They were youth oriented, and were marketed to the same guys who, a few years earlier, would've built a hot rod. Not only did a new muscle car outperform the old hot rod, it was extensively optioned, reliable, comfortable, fairly cheap, warrantied, required no assembly, and was—most importantly—new.
Billet wheels provided a huge array of designs and sizes that are new and unique.
In 1971, in response to all of this, the executives over at Petersen Publishing Company decided to stop publishing Rod & Custom magazine.
All of this predates the street rod revival and the birth of STREET RODDER magazine, but without this history, what followed, and what we've been doing for 40 years, might never have happened.
Across 49th Street
A few readers squawked in 2007 when we expanded our editorial focus from '48-and-earlier cars to '64-and-earlier, but all SR was doing was returning to its roots. Later cars were part of the original mix and the Across 49th Street column, written by Dain Gingerelli, Steve Coonan, and others, ran from February 1974 until the end of the decade as a celebration of "new" iron.
"I think you guys get the picture, street machines seem to be more fun; cruising around and raising the dust from under the rug. And that's what this column is for. We can talk late-model stuff, and not have to go behind the garage to do it. You got something to say, then send it in, in care of this column, or to me. I'm a personable guy. If you're Italian, I'll even answer the letter right away." —Dain Gingerelli, Across 49th Street, February 1974
Boyd Coddington was just starting to become a household name among hot rodders when the Si
The Second Wave
It was a combination of factors that caused a hiccup in the hobby in the late '60s, and another convergence of events that kicked off the revival. By 1972, the factory muscle car was disappearing, replaced by underpowered versions of their former selves and by tiny, unexciting compacts, soon to be labeled "econoboxes". The social and political turmoil of the day triggered a nostalgia for a perceived simpler time. The renewed popularity of '50s rock 'n' roll and the success of the movie American Graffiti reflected that nostalgia. So did the street rod revival. Starting in 1970, the National Street Rod Association gave the revival a place to play. And in 1972, a new magazine gave it a voice.
Tom McMullen and his wife Rose at TRM Publications were already successful with a motorcycle parts business, AEE Choppers, and a couple of supporting magazines, Street Chopper and Chopper Guide. Tex Smith was there at the time. "One day I announced to Tom and Rose that we needed to diversify the motorcycle magazines, and that the most obvious magazine would be in the emerging hobby of street rodding. Tom resisted. Rose was only concerned about how we would fund it. We did so by dropping our newest magazine, Hot Bike."
New-and-improved vintage carburetors eliminate the hassles associated with worn-out origin
"Tom was not as enthusiastic about the program as we were," Jim Clark, SR's first editor, remembers. "We spent about six months lobbying him to give us the opportunity to start STREET RODDER before he finally agreed. We originally intended to call it Street Rod, but not long before we went to print Bruce Miller in Portland, Oregon, came out with Street Rod magazine. So we changed our name. It was released in May 1972. At the time I was listed as the editor, but Tex was my mentor. He had the expertise and was the driving force behind the whole package."
One of Tex's many contributions to the new magazine was hiring a staff, including a young enthusiast named Brian Brennan. "I found Brian working at Disneyland as a sweeper. He had worked for one of the area's hot racing enterprises and he could almost spell. Over time, the other early staffers just sort of wandered in, lured into a low-paying, highly stressed environment with the promise of great fame. It worked, as always in our business. They had no idea what the future was to hold: some modicum of fame, low wages, long hours, and a lot of fun."
One of the most popular and enduring street rods of the ’70s was Pete Chapouris’ ’34 three
Tex and Brian left after only a few issues to start Rod Action magazine (Brennan, returned in 1997 and seems to be here for good). Jim Clark—with a few stops and starts—stayed until 1978.
Phantom bodies made it possible to build something that never was.
Electronic ignition conversions helped reliability and performance and opened the door to
New steering boxes. It’s ironic that two of the most popular street rod steering systems c
The rivalry between cops and rodders is as traditional as dirt track tires on wire wheels, but the adversarial relationship usually turns to friendship when the policeman turns out to be a rodder too. STREET RODDER contributor Tony Kelly was both and used his monthly Cop Shop column to give us the perspective from the other side of the badge. He submitted stories, warnings, wisdom, and advice for 25 years and probably prevented thousands of enthusiasts from getting tickets.
"I've stopped a lot of cars, written tickets to some of them, found a few bad guys, been called things I don't like, and sometimes been told to do things that I didn't think were physically possible." —Tony Kelly, first Cop Shop column, September 1979 Street Rodding in Bill's Eye
Street Rodding in Bill's Eye
There will probably never be another SR contributor as colorful, outspoken, enthusiastic, or opinionated as the late Bill Burnham. From December 1980 until his death in August 1996, Bill shared his unexpurgated views with our readers, many of whom turned to the "Street Rodding In Bill's Eye" column before reading anything else.
Every month Bill offered his insights on the hobby. He promoted driving, ridiculed trailers, and related his nonstop adventures behind the wheel of "Old Blue", his beloved '29 Model A highboy roadster. He could be crazy, wise, encouraging, cranky, funny, and profound—all in the same sentence. Former editor Tom Vogele said it well in our Dec. '96 issue, "His columns were humorous and entertaining, but almost all of them had an underlying controversial message." His most popular columns were reprinted posthumously through 1977.
"You can imagine how I felt when my wife and some former friends conspired to load my pretty blue roadster on a trailer at a rainy rod trot, and then had the heartless gall to take photos of it! What a rotten thing to do to a neat old guy like me! Anyway, my poor highboy got so upset that it started handling badly, got into a wreck, and blew all the stuffings out of the righthand muffler." —Bill Burnham, Street Rodding In Bill's Eye, September 1985
Replacement firewalls made it much easier to shoehorn a big engine into a little compartme
Volume 1, Number 1
"STREET RODDER originally covered the whole spectrum of street activity," Clark explains. "There was no 1948 cut-off year." Flipping through that first issue reveals some familiar types of articles: event coverage from the second NSRA Nationals and a feature on a Utah wrecking yard. There were also a few stories that pointed to changing trends: a feature on a '29 Model A roadster with a body built from fiberglass, and tech on Corvette and Jag rearend setups. And a few stories that reveal the wide range of subjects, including Tex's bobbed '67 VW "chopper", an air-cooled Flathead-powered T-bucket on dragster 'rails, and the buildup of a '63 Nova. It wasn't until NSRA established a '48-and-earlier cut-off, that SR adopted the same rule.
Editor Geoff Carter photographed Vern Luce’s ’33 coupe for the Dec. ’81 issue. The car was
The first decade of the new era in street rodding was marked by quick growth in the aftermarket. Many of the innovative parts highlighted on these pages were developed during this period. The availability of new parts for old cars allowed more people to participate, since building a rod was no longer dependent on finding old parts. The introduction of kits, like Andy Brizio's Instant Ts, and California Custom Roadsters Ts marked the beginning of the era of repro rods, cars built from virtually no old parts at all. It also saw the growth of street rod shops, and pro builders. Ambitious shops combined rod building with product development for the aftermarket.
Stylistically, it was a diverse decade that included resto rods and fad Ts. Paint and graphics got brighter and more sophisticated as painters continued to experiment with candies and metalflakes. Flames grew in popularity and variety. Tires, especially in the rear, were getting wide to the point of absurdity. As the '70s closed, the smoothie style, and billet aluminum wheels and components had been introduced. Engines were elaborately dressed, and independent suspensions rivaled front axles in popularity.
Television’s power to popularize street rodding was proved 50 years ago with the Kookie Ca
During the next decade, the aftermarket continued to expand, as witnessed by the growing numbers of ads in SR. As car values rose, specialty insurance evolved to protect them. As professional drag racing got quicker and faster and more distant from its roots, vintage drags appeared as a nostalgic alternative. The drag race look spilled over onto street rods in the form of Pro Street. The drive-in restaurant made a comeback, along with a resurgence in cruise nights, which expanded from parking lots to the street. Rodders were looked at as criminals again, and anti-cruising ordinances had us wondering if our hobby could be outlawed out of existence.
Style-wise, the tall Ts and gilded resto rods of the '70s lost ground to stripped-down street rods—not stripped down like the lakes racers of the '40s, but a minimalistic, "less is more" look, championed most successfully by Boyd Coddington and young designers like Chip Foose. Bright primary paint colors, typically red and yellow, stayed on top, but shared attention with pastel colors and bold multi-colored stripes and graphics. Boyd started marketing billet wheels, becoming one of the leaders (along with SO-CAL and others) in merging a pro shop with an aftermarket company.
Disc brake kits offered a simple and affordable means to build a safer car.
Independence for all was declared with the introduction of Pinto/Mustang II IFS kits.
A long way from an Army blanket over broken springs, replacement seating can provide the s
All Those Ads
"In some of the bigger car magazines, you can't find a story because of all the advertising." That opinion was expressed 40 years ago in a reader's letter in the very first issue. If we had a dollar for every time we've heard that opinion repeated, we wouldn't need advertisers! But we do need them. They pay the cost of producing this magazine. And, hopefully, they convey information to our readers that contribute to the success of your street rods. The first issue of SR had seven ads (not counting the "house ads" promoting ourselves): Crower, American Speed Centers, Antique Ford Parts Inc., Walker Radiator Works, Offenhauser, Miller Havens Enterprises (Baja Bug), and Van Iderstine Racing Equipment. This issue has almost 200 (listed in the back). Some people think that's bad; some people actually buy the magazine to check out the ads. We know that every advertiser, just like every reader, is supporting our hobby. We think that's good.
For 40 years, metal fabrication has been one of the most popular topics covered in these pages. For 18 years, metalman Ron Covell, via his alter ego Professor Hammer, has been teaching SR readers how to magically create street rod parts from a piece of sheetmetal. It's not really magic once Professor Hammer teaches you the secrets.
"In 1994, while talking with [SR editor] Tom Vogele, we hatched the idea of a monthly question-and-answer column on metalworking, and the Professor Hammer series was launched in the Feb. '95 issue. I thought this might run for a couple of years, and in that time, every conceivable question would have been covered. Well, 215 columns later, fresh questions keep coming in, and I'm still having a ball!" —Ron Covell
The two-tone paint, flashy graphics, and Pro Street theme of Rick Martin’s ’37 Ford coupe,
Everything was getting big. TRM Publications had become McMullen Publishing in the '80s and in the '90s was McMullen & Yee, then K-III, then McMullen-Argus. Cruising moved beyond the local street to the Interstate through programs like the STREET RODDER Road Tour, and thousands of rodders were now enjoying what guys like Andy Brizio, Magoo, and the early SR staff had been doing all along. Trailer sales were growing too, as "trailer queens" and show rods became something of a separate category. The budgets on some of these cars would have astonished rodders from 20 years earlier.
Instead of running from law enforcers, street rodders were now working with lawmakers, through SEMA primarily, to protect our hobby, which was by now, a huge industry as well. Underhood, the electronic fuel injection that frightened us in the '80s was more readily accepted. TPI systems and injected crate motors were filling the engine compartments of high-tech cars just as fast as digital instruments, A/C, contemporary seats, and modern sound systems were filling the interiors—and huge wheels with low-profile tires were filling fenders. The pinks and turquoises of the '80s were replaced by golds, maroons, and shades of orange as the decade progressed. Tear away graphics, tribal flames, and other new-style graphics were starting to catch on.
At one time re-coring a stock radiator was the only choice when repowering an early car, h
Anyone who had a street rod running a Cadillac column with the bottom wrapped in carpet to
Remember the brackets to bolt a generator to tube headers? Today there are well-designed a
Bonneville is the earth’s gift to hot rodders. Our coverage of the 1996 World of Speed inc
The 21st Century
Who could have foreseen in 1972 that street rodding and STREET RODDER would enter the new millennium as strong as ever? Earlier this century, McMullen-Argus was purchased by Primedia, which then purchased Petersen Publishing. Even original SR staffer Brian Brennan was back, editing the magazine. In the past 10 years, STREET RODDER (now owned by Source Interlink) has returned to its original concept, abandoning the '48-and–earlier rule (this time, the NSRA followed us).
The dominant trend of STREET RODDER's fourth decade has been a revival on traditional styling. This whole thing started back in the early '70s as a nostalgic pushback, and history repeated itself (somewhat) with the current shift away from high-tech contemporary style to the old familiar styles we've liked since the beginning. Nobody pushed back harder than the so-called "rat rodders". Some of them might have gone as far as to abandon good looks and safety altogether, but the movement as a whole has had a huge influence. Another segment of rodders has dedicated itself to skillfully and authentically restoring their rods to the styles of the '40s and '50s.
In most cases, today's styles "Respect Tradition" (to borrow Hollywood Hot Rods' motto) while blending it with modern conveniences. Today's street rods look vintage, but work and drive better than ever. No one (hardly anyone) flinches anymore at the thought of computer controls or modular engines, and today's latest developments (like wireless technology for rods) are regarded as exciting, not frightening.
As Tex Smith told us earlier this year, "The roaring success that STREET RODDER magazine is today can be traced entirely to perseverance and a solid faith in the hobby—and my belief that you, the reader, would embrace a publication beamed directly at your interest. Did we succeed? SR is today one of the strongest automotive-interest publications in the world. Almost despite our early staff. Fun, huh?!"
STREET RODDER didn't publish a response to Tom Bigby's letter from Vol. 1, No. 1, but if you're still out there Mr. Bigby, yeah, we made it. Thanks.
Bear jaw latches provide more security than older OEM designs and are practically standard
Tight tuck headers eliminated one of the problems associated with engine swaps.
Steel replacement bodies were once a dream; they became a reality and there are more appea
Air suspension systems offered a smooth ride along with easily adjustable ride height.
Readily available narrowed rear axle assemblies put an end to the back tires hanging outsi
Wide-white radials offered street rodders vintage looks with contemporary ride and handlin
Heating and bending steering arms for dropped axles was no longer necessary when bolt-on v
Custom-length springs with sliders and reversed eyes provided an improved ride and a lower
At one time finding a vintage body was hard and finding a windshield frame was near imposs
Street rod shocks meant no more going to the parts house to find something that would fit
At one time street rod steering shafts could be found with U-joints from Porsches to farm
Reproduction rails brought an end to the need to save a rusty, time-ravaged frame.
All the problems associated with rusty gas tanks were eliminated with the introduction of
Electric cooling fans work when you need them and fit where the engine-driven variety won’
Not everyone who wants to build a street rod can weld. Bolt-in suspension systems certainl
Two significant products here: four-bars eliminated suspension bind when the new dropped t
New grilles meant the hunt for an impossible-to-find and a pricey OEM example, or the use
Traveling in a street rod became much more civilized with the introduction of air-conditio
At one time Hydramatics and Powerglides were the automatics of choice; today it’s the new
Crate engines offer the advantages of contemporary engine technology, and most come with a
It used to be that every street rod with an automatic seemed to have a Mustang shifter on
Custom gauges offered the opportunity to design a dash like no other.
Custom computers and wiring harnesses made it possible to use factory-based or aftermarket
Wiring kits simplified installing an electrical system and made it safer and more sanitary
Artwork in many forms, from cartoons to concept illustrations, has always had a place in these pages. Dave Bell's pen-and-ink drawings appeared from the first issue, and have illustrated the various column heads to this day. The Adventures of Rodney Rodder by W.T. Hatch appeared in early issues, and George Trosley and Darrell Mayabb have also contributed illustrations for first page "lead art" for countless articles. The concept illustrations of Harry Bradley, Thom Taylor, and Steve Stanford—to name a few—have inspired many readers to pick up a wrench, and some to pick up a pencil. Bob Hovorka's Fix 'Ems columns uses drawings to explain tech tips every month. Quick On The Draw, a recent addition showcasing the talent of Jimmy Smith, Eric Black, Eric Brockmeyer, Jeff Norwell, and others, follows in the tradition of the Showcase features and the Readers' Art columns of the past.
The Road Tour
Nothing has done more to express SR's 40-year commitment to driving than the Road Tour, which completed its 17th year in 2012.
"My wife, Mary Ann, and I have a very solid original '34 Ford Fordor sedan that had been restored in the '70s. Tom, Barry Lobeck, of Lobeck's Hot Rod Shop, and I came up with the idea to turn the car into a street rod—not a resto rod and not a Pro Street rod, but something different. The series on the Presto Rod was well received, and I put more than 5,000 miles on the car its first summer.
"In the fall of 1994, I approached STREET RODDER with a concept: build a street rod using advertisers' products and drive it to all 11 National Street Rod Association events around the nation. We would promote the safety and reliability of the products we used while showing how much fun it was to drive street rods. They loved the idea—but who was going to drive the car to the events all summer and write the articles? I smiled and raised my hand. As Paul Harvey used to say, ‘now you know the rest of the story." —Jerry Dixey
People Who Have Made A Difference
The 2012 Goodguys Street Rod of the Year '32 Vicky is the latest in a long line of Alloway-built rods, customs, and muscle cars that exceed "same-old-thing" boundaries.
When you're from back here and the magazines are on the West Coast, the only thing you see is what they're doing in California, and the only way you can find that out is through the magazines. We would see the style of West Coast cars in the magazines and try to mimic that. One that comes to mind is Pete Chapouris' flamed coupe. Everybody, including me, wanted a "California Kid" car. If it hadn't been for the magazine, I wouldn't have known about Pete & Jake's, or Jim Ewing's Super Bell axle company. When the magazine announced that they were going to do a cross-country tour with Pete Chapouris, Jim Ewing, and Jim Jacobs, I thought it was just the greatest thing in the world to get to talk to somebody like that, whom I'd seen in all the magazines. If it hadn't have been for that encounter I might have been a beach bum somewhere or a professional water skier in Cypress Gardens. Instead I chose to stay here and build these cars.
I'll tell you how influenced I was. I always paint everything black. When I started trying to get cars in the magazine, I couldn't get anybody to look at a black car. So I started painting stuff red, including a '34 Victoria. I hated it because it was red, but I thought the magazines would shoot it, and sure enough, they did. Then I painted a '33 Victoria red and took it to the Detroit Autorama, where it won the Ridler award—the same year that Tom McMullen showed up with his white Victoria. After that I went back to painting everything black. And, my luck, the magazine got tired of red cars.
When I designed the Speedstar we advertised in STREET RODDER and it took off. Without the magazine's help, that never would have happened. This year, we went back to "old school" and won Street Rod of the Year in Columbus. Old is new.
People Who Have Made A Difference:
George's taste, and his collection, extends from Bonneville land speed racers to top-shelf show cars to patina'd beaters. The common denominator is that they're all cool and they're all driven.
My love for street rods started long before the magazine even existed. As a teenager, there were two hot rods that had an impact on my future "hot rodding" life. One of those hot rods was the Tom McMullen roadster. I have followed his car from the early '60s until today. It has always been one of my dream cars. My love for that car is the reason that the May '97 issue and the Apr. '04 issue of STREET RODDER are my all-time favorite issues. I have a copy of each of these issues in my office on display today. Reading about the complete history of the car in the May '97 issue was like filling in all the blanks of my hot rodding dreams that I had as a teenager. I followed all the changes that were made to the car over the years, but having it all recorded, described, and chronicled in one article was incredible. The April 2004 issue was the icing on the cake. The roadster being located and restored by one of the icon families of hot rodding was remarkable. Jorge Zaragoza is one of the most fortunate men in hot rodding to own the original car and have it restored to its shining glory by Roy Brizio. If I could choose one hot rod to own, the roadster would be it!
People Who Have Made A Difference:
Dick "Magoo" Megugorac
One of this hobby's earliest participants and best-known builders, "Magoo" got started in the early '40s. He has participated in the hobby throughout its evolution, and witnessed its changes.
I always believed in "build to drive". I'm not one for building a trailer queen. I've driven all over the United States. Forty years ago, it was nothing to jump in a car and go someplace for a rod run. I lived in the San Fernando Valley and if someone said, "Hey, we're driving up to the Bay Area," you'd say, "Lets go!" You'd never give it a second thought. Today they'd ask you if you were crazy. Today, for a lot or people, it's not that kind of world.
We'd use the cars for whatever we could think of. I've been on the road with Brian Brennan for years and years. Brian and Pete Chapouris and Jim Ewing used to hang together. They were all good drivers. We'd drive back East a lot. In addition to my '29 highboy, I had a '27 T touring. And I'd be going down the road in the touring car because it had the stock top on it. It was only good for 65 mph—70 was pushing it. So Brian and Chapouris and those guys would pass me. They drove like hell, but they would stop a lot. I would just continue driving. So I'd get there before they did!
There are still some guys who like to drive, like Andy Brizio. I've been across the country with Brizio quite a few times. He's one of the nation's real hot rodders. It's always interesting to go across country with someone like him, and it's nothing for him to jump in the car and drive across the country.
Another thing that has changed is that is that more people are driving later model cars. They're more comfortable, and with air conditioning and heat, they're more driveable in all weather and seasons. And they're cheaper and more readily available, so more people can get into it. I drive a '63 Chevy. I call it an old man's car because it's big and roomy. I couldn't get in my '29 today at my age!
People Who Have Made A Difference:
Andy's Instant T kits helped change the way people could build street rods. The Andy's Picnics and road trips reaffirmed how people should use them, and earned him the title "Rodfather".
I guess the trips that I have made in my roadster, be it the T-bucket, Volksrod, C Cab, or any one of my '32s—and the stories that went along and that STREET RODDER acknowledged—were a big part of helping my Instant T building business, and then on to the Andy's T-Shirt business. I have met so many great people and made so many friends along the way. Perhaps the one trip that sticks out in my mind is when, in 1997, I did all the Goodguy Shows in the United States. I had many partners on different legs of the trip, and on one Eric Geisert rode with me from Columbus to Spokane. Just two cars—Gary Meadors and myself with Eric. It was tough sharing a room with Eric as he is a remote control controller and so am I. He flew home one day before I left and hid the remote so that I couldn't watch TV for one day.
I'm back on the road again this year with 100 pre-'49 hot rods, driving to Indianapolis for the Goodguys Nats.
STREET RODDER is the one magazine that I have read for many, many years and is still on my coffee table today. STREET RODDER magazine has always been there for the driving rodder. Isn't that what it's all about?
People Who Have Made A Difference:
The Goodguys founder has done as much as anybody to promote the hot rod hobby, with numerous national events that welcome and reward every category and level of car enthusiast.
Hey you guys … congratulations on STREET RODDER magazine's 40th anniversary. That's a big deal. It's been a great run for STREET RODDER and Goodguys. In 2013, we will celebrate 30 years in business so the milestones are piling up for all of us. I've personally been a subscriber since day one.
Our industry has come a long, long way in 40 years. Our companies have always been tied together as the readers get to see the cars, the advertisers, and the sponsors come to life at Goodguys events. The legends and the cars they read about in STREET RODDER are right there in the flesh at Goodguys events.
The lifeblood of this hobby is guys and gals showing off their cars and Goodguys events offer a national stage for them to do that. STREET RODDER has done a great job over the years of showcasing the cars and bringing the events to life in the magazine. You guys were there in 1973 when I was the event director at the Lodi Mini Nationals and you continue to feature our events as we all move forward and spread the street rod bug to future generations. The cars and the people behind them are what have made this whole thing work and STREET RODDER has always been a leader in covering it.
I still get a kick out of getting STREET RODDER in my mailbox, seeing what everyone's up to, and paging through the Goodguys event coverage. When we got together and dreamed up the STREET RODDER Top 10 program in the late '90s, it got legs and really took off, now reaching across the nation as the Top 100—many of the cars selected from Goodguys events. I'd like to thank the STREET RODDER editors and associate editors over the years: Tom McMullen, Jim Clark, Richard Bean, Geoff Carter, Pat Ganahl, Steve Coonan, Steve Kelly, Tom Vogele, and Brian Brennan for their dedication to the industry and all the great Goodguys event coverage over the years! Hats off to you all!
People Who Have Made A Difference:
The street rod revival was marked with innovative performance products, and Kugel Komponents suspensions helped create this new generation of cars.
When I opened my repair business, Jerry's Garage, in 1969, I decided I'd get into street rods. I hadn't before that, so I bought an old '32 Ford roadster, which I still own today, and just started working on it. Street rodding at the time wasn't really booming—I was able to pick up the roadster for next to nothing—a basket case. The more I looked at it, the more I figured out what I was going to do. I decided I wanted to try to do some chassis work. So I started buying independent suspensions from Jaguars and used my car as my test vehicle. I was doing that kind of work for my own use and it wasn't until the early '70s that I started in business as Kugel Komponents. At that time the magazines started taking interest, STREET RODDER being one of them. Then down the road I was able to start advertising and magazines started doing buildup articles and that all helped.
When they came out with reproduction bodies, and Deuce Factory came up with framerails—that really ignited some sparks. Instead of a piece of junk body and a piece of junk frame, now you could buy a fiberglass body and a new frame. Super Bell was starting, and Pete & Jake's and myself with suspension parts. We probably had something to do with getting some more interest in cars.
Today, we're doing less and less hunting around for parts and pieces. Almost everything we see today is a reproduction. Now it's pretty commonplace to have several manufacturers producing aftermarket components like suspensions. You can find a variety of price ranges from exotic stuff to plain vanilla, Mustang frontends or a start-from-scratch setup. But the days of a guy having to rely on junkyard parts are over.
People Who Have Made A Difference:
Ken "Posies" Fenical
Ken Fenical, better known as "Posies", began as a pinstriper and now builds some of the most original rods, in addition to manufacturing innovative springs and other products.
I was asked by STREET RODDER if I had any past experiences that I would like to pass on. My most enlightening experience was in 1982 when I first met Tom McMullen at St. Paul. His photographer at the time was shooting my '36 Ford Cabriolet. I was asked if the car had been in any other magazines. I answered the question "no", knowing that over the previous two days four other magazines had shot it. I answered the question honestly that it had not been in any magazine up to that point. So I didn't fib, I answered honestly and in the time I owned that car it was in over 27 magazines and 9 covers worldwide. Tom was a true hot rodder from the beginning until the end. With the quality of the magazine that STREET RODDER is, I am proud to have been an advertiser for over 35 years and will continue to do so.
People Who Have Made A Difference:
Ron's workshops and sheetmetal tech articles—including the Professor Hammer column that has been running in SR since 1995—have made metalshapers out of thousands of readers.
Around 1985, after being a faithful reader and subscriber of STREET RODDER magazine for years (and seeing some of my work featured in its pages) I wondered if I might be able to write an article about metalworking. I ran this idea by Tom Vogele, (former editor of SR) and he strongly encouraged me to submit something!
While I knew metalworking quite well, writing was a skill I hadn't mastered yet. Fortunately, I had a good friend at the time who was a master technical writer, and she strongly encouraged me to write an article, with the promise that she would give me any help I needed.
I was building a set of gas tanks for a '32 Ford roadster at the time, and I thought perhaps that would make an interesting article. I have a vivid memory of sitting at my desk with a pile of photos spread out in front of me, with a pen and yellow legal pad in my hands, wondering how and where to start describing the intricate process. It was a full hour until I scrawled my first words onto the page, and after re-reading my first few sentences, I tore off the page, balled it up, and tossed it into the corner. After another hour, a few more sentences, and a growing pile of balled-up paper, I called my friend Trish over, and she read through my first scribbles. She offered a few pointers on organizing my thoughts and on finding my own style, and I was ready to try again.
I think I went through a couple of legal pads before the article started working for me, but I could see how a little change here and there could really make a difference, and I quickly picked up a sense of how the proper selection of words could create a clear picture in the reader's head.
When Brian Brennan came onboard as editor, he started bringing me some additional topics for technical articles, which I've loved, and I took particular delight in doing the series on Hollywood Hot Rods' recent build of the Road Tour '40. It's been a joy to be involved with this group of always-creative builders for years, and to see the new trends develop over time. I look forward to many more years of working with SR!
People Who Have Made A Difference:
Walker Radiator was already a major force in the street rod aftermarket when their ad appeared in our very first issue. Vern was also instrumental in creating the Street Rod Nationals.
The success of the Street Rod Nationals has a lot to do with the locations and the number of exhibitors. It's always been promoted as a family event, and now it's becoming more and more of a historical event, with a lot of memories for everyone. We caught a lot of flak when we opened it up to the later cars, but we're getting younger people in. Every time you do it, it's a whole new ball game. We have more than 500 volunteers helping. Without them, there could be no Street Rod Nationals. There is no way you could put it on because there's so much going on. Each year we add a little more to it. We've been in Louisville a while. It just works. We used to move around, but it seemed like we could make the show better if we found a good spot and stayed there.
My father started his business in 1932, and we've stayed in the same location, right next to Sun Records in Memphis. He started it as a repair shop, and it the early '50s, we started manufacturing industrial cores. In the early '60s I built my first Model T radiator. I took me three weeks to build that rascal and I said we'll never build another one of those things! Well we did and now that's all we do.
Everybody was just at the right place at the right time for it to click. STREET RODDER and all the other publications always helped me. We do a lot with the Road Tour. This year a tour came through and we had about 50 or 60 cars here. It's been a good relationship.
People Who Have Made A Difference:
Roy builds street rods (roadsters in particular) that are equally capable of covering thousands of miles and earning trophies—including America's Most Beautiful Roadster.
As a kid growing up in a street rod family, there was always a copy of STREET RODDER magazine in the house. I used to dream of having a car featured inside the magazine or maybe even on the cover someday. Well, that dream came true years later. I have been very fortunate to have had the opportunity to work for some wonderful people, who shared the same passion, and made it possible to build some great cars. We were able to have many cars featured over the years. Without those people, I would have never had a car featured, or even a career. If I had to pick one favorite story that involved STREET RODDER it would be when we got the chance to restore the original Tom McMullen roadster. When I got the call from my friend Jorge Zaragoza one day, and he asked me if I knew where the original car was, I replied "Yes, why are you interested?" He told me that when he was a kid he loved that car, and what it meant to hot rodding history. He said that, if possible, he would like to purchase it and have my shop restore it. Well, the rest is history, and it was such a great honor for me to be involved. This year I will be celebrating my 35th year in business, and STREET RODDER magazine has been with me all the way. Congratulations on your 40th.
People Who Have Made A Difference:
Jerry and Peggy Slover became the owners of Pete & Jake's, started by Pete Chapouris and Jim Jacobs, in 1986. The company merged with Super Bell Axle in 2004.
When I broke into this industry, 40 years ago, the traditional car was all there was. Now you see primered cars and resto rods gracing the cover of STREET RODDER magazine and I love it. I think STREET RODDER and the staff have continued to stay tuned in to the fact that our industry has come full circle.
It seems funny that the younger generation talks about cars that were common in STREET RODDER in the early days, which are now called "barn finds". They are still considered worthy of being in the pages of the magazine … timeless.
Timeless … this seems to be the relationship between STREET RODDER and Pete & Jake's/Super Bell Axle. From the early days of the wild bunch (Pete Chapouris, Jim "Jake" Jacobs, Pete "P.Wood" Eastwood, Jim Ewing, and Brian Brennan) to today, we have enjoyed our relationship.
Being in the industry in the early days, we have seen trends come and go. But from the beginning, we built well-designed, high quality, American-made parts that a builder or beginner can install. STREET RODDER helped bring these parts and ideas to the masses. Rodders were waiting for the next issue to see what was new and how they could build or change their cars. Through the pages of the magazine we saw the Flathead leave and the modern motors come in … now we are seeing Flatheads, manual transmissions, and bias-ply tires gracing the pages. As we say once again … full circle.
As Pete and Jake's and Super Bell continue into the future, we know that STREET RODDER magazine will continue to be a driving force helping the sport we love. Congratulations STREET RODDER on 40 years and I wish you continued success.
People Who Have Made A Difference:
Hollywood Hot Rods and Troy Ladd have become recognized as prominent contributors to this hobby, building two AMBR finalists and SR's 2012 Road Tour '40 coupe.
It's very easy for me to say that without STREET RODDER magazine there would not be a Hollywood Hot Rods. My story began when I inherited a '66 Mustang and, for purely purposeful reasons, I fixed it up as high school transportation. No one in my family was into cars or fixing them up, so I had to learn how to do it all myself by reading books and magazines. Right after I graduated high school, I spotted my first copy of STREET RODDER and knew that even though I didn't know what all the different cars were yet, I really loved what I was looking at.
It didn't take long for me to track down a '36 Ford five-window coupe that I fell in love with because of the lines. I sold my trusty Mustang and invested all of my $1,900 from the sale into the Ford I knew absolutely nothing about. I remembered all the information and advertisements I found in STREET RODDER and was anxiously awaiting each new issue to learn as much as I could. With the limitless enthusiasm of a teenager, I spent long nights and weekends turning my old '36 into my personal dream car. The time soon came when I put my car on the street and I was having a blast. I attended my first car show, The Great Labor Day Cruise in Orange County, California, and was overwhelmed when people actually crowded around my car and started asking me questions. The difficult part came when no one believed a 19-year-old kid had put the '36 together as his first street rod without any outside assistance. Most believed my dad had built it or even just bought it for me finished. It took a lot of convincing for anyone to believe that I had done all the work myself.
That weekend closed like so many in Southern California with some excellent weather under clear sunny skies and I just looked forward to more of the same in my fixed-up Ford. My biggest moment of excitement came a few months later when STREET RODDER chose to include a picture of MY CAR in the event coverage of The Great Labor Day Cruise. Nothing could have made me more excited … my car in a magazine! I carried around that issue for months, showing it to all who would listen. I still have that well-worn issue in my files, lovingly tucked away and hold it above all the other magazine mentions and stories that have come since.
People Who Have Made A Difference:
Nobody is more enthusiastic about street rods than Fred Warren. His collection includes AMBR and Ridler winners, plus other groundbreaking cars like the "Smoothster" and "Shockwave".
I've been into street rods since I was about 14. I used to drive a '29 Ford roadster back and forth to high school; I'm 74 now, so it's been a long time. I can't even tell you how many cars I've had, but there have been a lot of them. When I first met Brian Brennan at a car show, we were both a lot younger. He was working for Rod Action and he photographed a feature on a '34 full-fendered coupe I had.
The caliber of the stories and photographs in STREET RODDER give you a lot to feed off of when you're building a new car. In Ohio, we're kind of on the wrong side of the country for hot and heavy hot rod stuff so we rely on whatever is coming out of California; without a magazine like STREET RODDER, we might never know. And if you didn't the advertisers in there promoting their latest products, you'd never know what was available.
When you see a really cool-looking car in a magazine like STREET RODDER, you try to use some of the thoughts and ideas. Or you might go to a designer and have him incorporate those into the car that you're thinking about building. Although when I see people using ideas that I came up, it can irk me, but that happens sometimes. I guess that's flattery.
The biggest change I've seen over the years is the quality of the cars. Disregarding some of the rat rods that are going on now, the quality has really picked up. And I think they're a lot safer now, a lot more roadworthy, and definitely a lot better looking. The quality of the builders has picked up too. There are a lot of shops out there building quality cars.
(Pictured on the left)
People Who Have Made A Difference:
There's probably not a rodder in America who hasn't picked up a pencil and attempted to draw like Steve Stanford, only to find out that it's not as easy as Steve makes it look.
I'm visualizing a very nice neighborhood. Not the imposing, gated community, restricted, snooty kind of image; it's a lot more relaxed and welcoming than that. The people are friendly, helpful, and interesting. See that old timer there? The stories he could tell. Watch the face of that youngster he's talking to. The kid's brash but curious and is soaking up every word from this legend of yesteryear. The veteran, still with the same gleam in his eyes that he had as a teenager starting out, is still very active and vital and continues to probe and experiment using his and others' experience as a guide to future exploits.
How about that young person? He and his peers are here to shake things up. It's a different world they inhabit and that curious face can belong to a female as well as a male. While they can "respect tradition" as the saying goes, they've got a fresh take on these surroundings. Oh sure, at first they did some spirited hell-raisin' in the neighborhood but these interlopers meant no harm. In fact, the old-timers found this new breed to be a shot in the arm to the way things have always been done. To everyone's surprise, tradition was found to co-exist with progression. A new take on old ideas injected fresh enthusiasm from both young and veteran neighbors, and the community grew. This place can be a warm refuge from the outside world's cares and worries and conflict if you want it to be.
This neighborhood has wonderful all-American values of hard work, creativity, sharing ideas, helping your fellow man (and woman—don't forget!) and having a roaring good time to boot. And, most importantly, pride of accomplishment.
From the kid with his nose pressed up to the glass of this candy store with all the treats inside—don't worry about getting cavities in this case—to the not-much-older man/child making his mark on the neighborhood and sampling these treats, to the veterans who built this neighborhood, reaped the rewards, and laid down a rich tradition that brings out the best of what this country has to offer, this is a community I like living in.
Believe it or not, what I'm describing is hot rodding. The neighborhood is STREET RODDER magazine.
By the way, STREET RODDER published my first sketchpad article in the July '78 issue. Thank you Pat Ganahl, who was editor at the time, for giving a break to an unknown. See how STREET RODDER is a welcoming neighborhood?!
(Pictured on the right)
People Who Have Made A Difference:
He's contributed to the success of Rod & Custom, Hot Rod, and The Rodder's Journal, and has written many books on hot rod history and tech. Pat's editorial career began here.
It was late 1973. I had just spent a year teaching the eighth grade and building an abandoned '47 Chevy pickup into a black-lacquered driver. That summer I put a small camper shell on it, and my new wife and I drove it across the United States. On the way home I told Anna, "I'm going to find a job writing … for anything." To my surprise, I discovered a new magazine called STREET RODDER. It was about a year old. I got a copy and showed Anna, "Look, coupes and roadsters—the good stuff. They're back!" I had been away at college and didn't know that this revival called street rodding had begun.
I called and naïvely asked if they had any jobs. They said, "Not really, but why not come talk to us tomorrow afternoon." When I got there, the previous editor had—quite unexpectedly—walked out that morning. So I met with Jim Clark, who was then running the magazine, while Tom McMullen was at the other end of the building making chopper motorcycle parts. Jim gave me a little quiz asking things like, "What's the difference between a '39 and '40 Ford? How about a 4-71 and 6-71?" I got them right, and told him I was a writer, so he said, "Be at work tomorrow morning."
I knew hot rods and how to run a typewriter. Jim loaned me a twin-lens camera. In the following five years I learned how to run a magazine as on-the-job training, while street rodding, its industry, and this magazine grew proportionately. That's how my career began, serendipitously, almost 40 years ago. Another day I'll tell you about the time Tom's "tame" cougars jumped me in his office. There are countless stories like that.
People Who Have Made A Difference:
The drag racing chassis builder helped revive street rodding with the Deuce Factory's aftermarket suspension parts, including the first reproduction '32 framerails.
I was involved with drag racing, and then got back into making parts for street rods because I had done that in my early years. Building my first street rod, I looked around at what was needed—and framerails were definitely needed. You could find bodies, but framerails were hard to come by. I worked on the tooling for two years.
That got the whole business going. Now you can buy parts and build a car without any trouble. But there's too much money involved now, and too many high-dollar cars. I enjoyed the people I was involved with because a lot of them were old time hot rodders like myself. I think those guys are few and far between now, although to me the rat rod movement is a great thing—going back to the way it was. Some of them get carried away, obviously. There are crappy rat rods and there are very good rat rods; the really nice ones are the way it was back in the day. I've always appreciated the people who had the talent to build their car themselves.
I'm out of street rodding now, but I enjoyed it while I was in it. I'm still racing a Bonneville car every year. I'm still having fun and I'll keep going as long as I can.
People Who Have Made A Difference:
Long before he set a new standard for hot rod magazines with The Rodder's Journal, Steve Coonan was shooting photos and writing for STREET RODDER.
I remember purchasing the premiere issue of STREET RODDER off a newsstand in Wheaton, Maryland. I was in junior high. Little did I know that in just four years time I would move across country to start my first full-time job, as an assistant editor at STREET RODDER magazine.
SR in 1976 was an environment that was nothing like what my high school guidance counselors had prepared me for, populated with a sage and wise cast of characters. Founder Tom McMullen arrived most days in his small-block Chevy-powered Lamborghini often with his pet cougar riding in the passenger seat. Ad director Bill Burke regaled us with stories of early Bonneville, off-color jokes, and the best blown-fuel Hemi noises I've ever heard from the voice of a human. Pat Ganahl would join the bench racing sessions, but spent more time than most sequestered in his office working on the writing that filled SR's 76 pages. Jim Clark served as editorial director, had been a buddy of Tom's since their Navy days, and was working on a Nailhead-powered Deuce highboy. At lunch we were often joined by Truckin' editor Robert K. Smith and art director Bill Tietgen.
Tom would often recruit me to help on whatever project he had going in his home garage. I was tasked with chores that ranged from making wire mesh air filters for the carb stacks on the Moser head-equipped small-block Chevy in his roadster to cleaning the undercarriage of his blown big-block-powered Dodge van-style pickup, or feeding chicken necks to the cougar as well as Tom's other exotic cats.
But it wasn't all fun and games. We worked hard to do the best magazine we could and, more importantly, stay one step ahead of our crosstown rivals at Rod Action.
STREET RODDER was good place for me to learn the craft of magazine writing, photography, and the basics of the magazine business. And in retrospect it's hard not to see my coworkers as mentors who helped a kid from Maryland learn the ropes of automotive publishing. I am grateful.
Tom McMullen's life ended at the relatively young age of 60 in a plane crash, but I would be hard-pressed to think of anyone who packed more living into their time on earth. The rest of us are still around and although I don't see as much of any of the guys who gave me my start at SR as I would like, I am happy to call them all friends.
People Who Have Made A Difference:
Thom builds some of the world's most beautiful rods, using a pencil or a pen. His sketchpad concept illustrations have been inspiring us, and probably you too, for many years.
I picked up STREET RODDER magazine from the first issue. Hanging out at Dave Williams' shop in Placentia [California] in the mid '70s, I would run into Pat Ganahl from time to time, who was the first "magazine guy" I ever met.
After college, International Truck in Fort Wayne, Indiana, hired me as a designer. Through one of the designers at IH I met a rodder putting together a newsletter for the Indiana Street Rod Association. He was Geoff Carter.
We decided to drive up to the Street Rod Nationals in St. Paul, and leading up to the event we discovered Bud Lang would be there from McMullen Publishing looking for an editor for STREET RODDER. I thought Geoff would be perfect for the job—and he had samples from doing the ISRA newsletter to prove it.
I remember driving him to the hotel where Lang was doing the interviewing. I didn't think Geoff would get the gig, but was proud of him for making the attempt. So I was more than a bit surprised when I found not only was he offered the job, his house was already for sale and his wife and daughter were packing.
Geoff was editor of STREET RODDER for years. Through him I was able to get a lot of my early art and writing into the magazine, so Geoff and STREET RODDER were/are partially responsible for whatever level of success I have achieved in my dubious career.