OK, now that I have your attention and you are about to email me and threaten my wellbeing, let me talk you back off the ledge. Go ahead and settle back into your bark-o-lounger and let me continue. Any hot rodder who has attended any event over the past five years has surely noticed a change has occurred to our rodding landscape.
For starters, what is the "rodding landscape"? To me the rodding landscape is made up of the cars we build, we drive, and we share at rodding events. About a decade ago if you attended a national event hosted by the NSRA in Louisville or by Goodguys in Columbus you would have seen an overwhelming number of pre-1948 cars making up the participants' rides. Today there's a clear swing to the majority of these participants' rides being of later vintage. The cars of the 1950s and 1960s are growing in popularity by leaps and bounds. Should you find yourself at a current event you will also see builds moving into the early 1970s.
And there's another element of later model hot rods that has grown by leaps and bounds with no immediate sign of slowing down—the pickup truck. Always a favorite among early rodders, the explosion within the ranks of the 1947-54 Chevy, the 1967-72 Chevy, and plenty of mid-1950s Ford pickups, the truck is clearly growing in popularity, but more on this subject for a later editorial.
From everything we can see at the magazine there are plenty of pre-1948 hot rods being built but there's no denying that the building of these early hot rods are slowing down as the later models are increasing. If one is to look at the total numbers of the later cars (and trucks) participating at all events the numbers would seem to be growing.
So, what does this mean, and is it a good thing? The short answer is, "The times are a changin'" (thanks, Bob!). And, yes it is a very good thing. Now, before the die-hard rodder among us again jumps from his foam-backed 50-gallon drum—kick it into neutral. I have grown up (figuratively and literally) with early hot rod freaks and I have noted that these same guys are now building or already own something from the post-war era. This "new" project from another era seems to have rejuvenated them to the joys of rodding.
It's this renewed interest in rodding by working on later model cars that is currently spurring the current, and let's hope, long-term growth in our hobby. Every time I turn around I see these post-war rides (and I'm talking post Korea). More and more events are inviting these years and makes, and it doesn't matter if one is built in the street cruiser style and one is a muscle car, the appearance of both is a welcomed addition to our hobby.
Major trade shows, like SEMA, or a number of indoor car shows have for the past few years clearly shown a growth in the oversized hot rod, making an impression on the hobby.
Take a look at the Street Rodder advertisers; many of them have a product line for later model builds. And this bodes well for our hobby. By having established companies producing product it allows them to deliver more new products faster, as much of their infrastructure is already in place. There's a distinct difference in a company's "growing pains" resulting from booming business or as a struggling startup.
Are we saying that pre-1948 street rods (hot rods, if you wish) are slowing down, meaning there are less of them being built? Probably so, but it doesn't mean that our hobby is slowing down, just changing lanes. And it's all for the better. Our hobby going forward should prove to be bigger and stronger than in the past. If anything is going to bite us in the trunk it will be emission, registration, or gasoline issues. Yet, we have overcome other issues in the past so now isn't the time to sit back but rather move forward and continue to champion our hobby. And, if that isn't enough, well then you are living too easy of a life.