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.

The '70s
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.

The '80s
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.


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.

Professor Hammer
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