The Cost Of Hot Rodding

It ain’t cheap fellas… and while it has gotten more expensive over the years, I’m not so sure it has ever been REAL cheap. The following classified ad can be found in a 1954 issue of Hot Rod Magazine:

SELL – ’27 T street roadster, 300 cu. in. GMC, Herbert roller crankshaft, maroon upholstery, black lacquer paint, perfect condition. $1200 D. Hitchcock, 20036 Stoepel, Detroit 21, Mich.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the median household income in 1954 was $4,200. With that in the mind, the above hot rod represents about 29% of the average American household’s income. That’s a pretty impressive number, but how does it measure up against today’s costs?

To figure that out, you must first figure out the value of Mr. Hitchcock’s roadster in today’s dollars. Let’s assume it’s a really well finished and fresh car with no history. It’s just a sum of it’s parts and labor… This isn’t science, obviously, but for the sake of argument let’s just say it’s worth around $25,000.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the median household income in 2006 was $48,201. In today’s hot rod economy, Mr. Hitchcock’s roadster makes up about 52% of the average American annual income. That’s an increase of around 23% in a little over 50 years.

There are a lot of take aways from these numbers that are pretty amazing to think about, but the one that hits me the hardest is just how much money it takes to be a hot rodder now and then. No one will ever confuse us for financial planners, but damn man – are we a dedicated bunch or what? Hot Rods demand all kinds of sacrifice.

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