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History An Ax to Grind

Discussion in 'Traditional Customs' started by J.Ukrop, Jul 17, 2020.

  1. J.Ukrop
    Joined: Nov 10, 2008
    Posts: 1,381

    Staff Member

    J.Ukrop submitted a new blog post:

    An Ax to Grind


    Continue reading the Original Blog Post
    kidcampbell71, Stogy, stinson and 4 others like this.
  2. chopolds
    Joined: Oct 22, 2001
    Posts: 5,843

    from howell, nj
    1. Kustom Painters

    Lots of "rodders" here have the same attitude!
    54delray, AndersF, williebill and 8 others like this.
  3. railcarmover
    Joined: Apr 30, 2017
    Posts: 541


    Might not like the art,always respect the me the big difference is between owner builders and check writers..
  4. I agree with the author. This was the era of change for the sake of change. Once beautiful customs kept getting mods and doodads added to them in a never ending quest for points and trophies at shows. Kinda like reality tv in our time with everyone saying "look at me!"

    I do dig that 58. More hotrod than custom there. That color of yellow and sometimes red was used by our local Speed shop proprieter Brent Willian on all of his cars.

  5. 5window
    Joined: Jan 29, 2005
    Posts: 7,744


    I slightly agree with the original letter, which certainly could be a "plant" seeking to survey reader opinion for a new magazine. I like some customs, and it certainly was cool to visit Darryl Starbird's Museum when we drove Route 66. But, there are customs I like and hot rods I don't like. I guess I will just have to judge them one by one.
    Hnstray, Stogy, chryslerfan55 and 3 others like this.
  6. 6inarow
    Joined: Jan 24, 2007
    Posts: 2,277


    look at that car. the author is an idiot.
  7. That 58 reminds me of your cool 56.

    Since the letter and car were in the same issue which had at least a 3 month lead time I doubt the author even saw that car until the issue came out. But, putting into context PHR was always one of my least favorite mags of the 60s, they certainly weren't a custom rag. I found they lacked the focus that R&C (minus the karts) or HRM had. I think we can all agree the heyday for PHR was more late 70s into the 80s when cruisin and street machines reigned supreme on our streets.
  8. KevKo
    Joined: Jun 25, 2009
    Posts: 471

    from Motown

    Some guys are more into function than form. They are all about trying to improve the elapsed time, but to make a car look better just doesn't register. But as said above, there were a lot of "more is better" ugly cars in that era.
  9. 57JoeFoMoPar
    Joined: Sep 14, 2004
    Posts: 4,740


    I agree with @chopolds , The anti-custom rhetoric is alive and well within the traditional scene. People just can't seem wrap their heads around the idea that you do work to a car to improve it's beauty or to be a creative outlet in expressing your personal tastes. Hot rods are easy to understand. Horsepower + small car = better performance. It's quantifiable. Customs aren't.

    It's like comparing math to English, comparing hockey to figure skating, comparing objective to subjective.
  10. Atwater Mike
    Joined: May 31, 2002
    Posts: 10,290

    Atwater Mike

    I was active in a racing team of older fellows at age 13. The gods smiled on me.
    All the members drove cool stuff, (this was 1955) and raced at 'Little Bonneville', a small airstrip in San Jose.
    Daily drivers consisted of: two '32 highboys, three '33-4 pickups, 3 Model A roadsters (all full fendered) a '33 five window, '34 three window, and a couple of '36 and '40 coupes.
    I was chopping a '36 three window then, no drivers license yet.

    Two prominent members drove 'semi-customs', actually their family cars...but not two to leave 'well enough' alone, Boof's '50 Merc got dual pipes, lowered, flare skirts, and shaved hood/deck, dual fact, early in the next year, it was the first in Santa Clara to receive the NEW '55 Chevy V-8! Now, this Merc was a 'custom type', but it was O.K. by me! (I was already dye-in-the-wool HOT ROD!) But, this Merc...
    Besides, Boof had the first '32 Highboy in the racing team. So, he had Carte Blanche!

    Harry had a '29 Highboy, (first '29 Highboy I'd ever seen, back from '51) So, Harry fixed up his '48 Ford club coupe, a black car, dual pipes, dropped more in back than front...mild tail dragger, box skirts, Appletons, and white tuck-n-roll interior.
    Lots of chrome in the interior, just...Bright! Flathead was hopped up, pots/heads/cam/ignition. Chrome under the hood, too...
    Not a hot rod either, but I fell in love with that shiny black semi-custom...
    I admired the chopped Mercs and such, (because they were CHOPPED.)
    But the wild bodywork and overdone paint never really buzzed me...I DID appreciate the talent it took, though.
    Just never wanted a 'Kustom', (but in later years, I grew to appreciate most all of 'em, as I had a shop and knew what it took...)
    But I still have hot rods. LOL
  11. i.rant
    Joined: Nov 23, 2009
    Posts: 3,057

    1. 1940 Ford

    I like plenty of mild customs.:cool:
  12. sololobo
    Joined: Aug 23, 2006
    Posts: 8,140


    wonderful 58 Impala, done so tasty and still have it's beautiful original lines. My kind of car. However, I admire all car builds and respect how being individuals makes it all go around.
  13. Mr48chev
    Joined: Dec 28, 2007
    Posts: 27,831


    I've always been into customs just as much as rods but have seen far too many that hit that change for the sake of change and didn't know when to quit stage.

    I always blame that on the guys who had an ISCA judging sheet tacked to the shop wall with a sheet tacked beside it that they marked off the things that they did to the car to gain max points for that mod.
    Hood scoops 5 points, two hood scoops that just flat don't blend in with the build at all but they are there for that 5 points. Then right on down the line.

    That yellow Impala resembles a few cars I used to see in this area back in the ealy 60's Mild dechrome, slightly lowered, wheels and a rather mild custom paint job. With the Tri power under the hood it fits what PHR was pushing at the time for being a quick street car as it does a custom.
  14. The three of us have been on the board here about as long as possible. I know you two are die hard custom guys and I am more of a hot rodder that likes customs. But, I think the "anti custom" sentiment I have been hearing about on here is more a chip on the shoulders of the custom crowd than an actual bias. Serious customs take time, money and skill, pick two. They are not easy to accomplish but a guy can sure get a T or a 55 Chevy on the road easier by going the hot rod route. By that alone you will ALWAYS see more non customs around. A good example of lack of bias was this morning, the first two or three threads I saw on the board were from the Traditional Custom sub forum and the folks replying were not just custom guys but guys like myself. This thread is one of them.
  15. 302GMC
    Joined: Dec 15, 2005
    Posts: 6,401

    from Idaho

    Same idea was used in the April 1954 Rod & Custom with a letter from ''John Males'' - it was actually Spence Murray ...
    lurker mick and Tman like this.
  16. So journalists creating their own hype in not a new thing?! ;)
  17. Mr48chev
    Joined: Dec 28, 2007
    Posts: 27,831


    Anti custom often comes more from the keep it stock looking brigade than the rodders. I've had guys who think you aren't supposed to do any body changes to a car walk up at shows and rip into me because my truck was chopped and "I had ruined it" None knowing that the cab came off a 3/4 ton that I bought out of a field for 50.00 where it had sat for several years.
    I'm seeing the stick crap on your custom build that looks like crap but you think you have to have it because _______ showing up in one FB group more and more. The My bubble skirts are bigger than your bubble skirts nonsense.
    I also saw a radical custom project show up for sale today that the seller decided he was in over his head on and the poor car may never sell as he didn't get the body lines squared up when he sectioned the car and it just flat doesn't look right. Makes it look like he tried a slight wedge section of the whole top half of the back of the body to get the tops of the rear fenders down slightly. Or he just didn't have a good eye for getting it right. That could cause some guy to badmouth radical customs.
    41 GMC K-18, chryslerfan55 and 302GMC like this.
  18. Curt Six
    Joined: Sep 19, 2002
    Posts: 873

    Curt Six

    I think I like that '58 better in black and white.
    lothiandon1940, scotty t and blowby like this.
  19. 57JoeFoMoPar
    Joined: Sep 14, 2004
    Posts: 4,740


    I can't say I disagree with you. Perhaps the custom crowd does have a bit of a chip on their shoulder (myself included) from being in the minority among the traditional rod and custom club. Every year I go to the Detroit Autorama, and in the basement there are droves of hot rods but only a handful of good customs.

    I also agree that it is hard to build a serious custom car. For a hot rod to achieve it's ultimate goal, it should have increased performance, which could be as simple as bolting on some performance parts. It's a lot more complicated to build a full custom. Paint, chrome, interior... it's all difficult, labor intensive, and expensive. For those reasons alone, there are a lot fewer customs than rods. But there have been precious few solid custom build threads on here in recent years. People talking shit about using chevy drivetrains, people shit talking styling cues, and the fact that the modern, traditionally-styled custom, especially one that hits hard, isn't a strictly traditional car anymore. Many have non-traditional drivetrains, air ride, air conditioning... stuff that has become not appropriate for this board.
  20. redo32
    Joined: Jul 16, 2008
    Posts: 1,735


    Generally speaking FLAMES are for hot rods. Scallops are for customs. Not to say that occasionally a talented painter pulls off the tasteful custom flames.
  21. “Wow. That’s a lot to take in“
    No, it isn't. Its really clear.

    I think the author is suffering from an identity crisis. The name of the mag is Popular Hotrodding not Rod and Custom.

    Ya can’t be all things to all people.
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2020
    chryslerfan55 likes this.
  22. J.Ukrop
    Joined: Nov 10, 2008
    Posts: 1,381

    Staff Member

    Hopefully you mean the author of the letter and not the one who wrote this article ;) And the name of the mag was Pouplar Hot Rodding...
    chryslerfan55 and Tman like this.
  23. My bad
    And who cares if it is a clean 58 ? It’s in the wrong magazine.
    Letter writer is correct.
  24. ekimneirbo
    Joined: Apr 29, 2017
    Posts: 1,587

    from Brooks Ky

    I have to say that I'm more into the performance vein than customs, but when I see a well done custom I really enjoy looking at it. The problem is that many custom builders don't have the talent to make it all work together and most just copy things they have seen before. Then again, I see the same thing with the Hot Rod side since there is less room for personal expression when admittedly we are trying to emulate a specific look. Often, the end result looks poorly done even though all the basic parts are there. Its not about whether it has a fantastic paint job or chrome everywhere or even if its real steel. In both rods and customs its about how the whole thing looks, not about what you can add on to it. Here is a pretty simple custom and a well known custom. Isn't any doubt in my mind which one looks the best....... Chopped 56 Merc 1.jpg
    41 GMC K-18 and chryslerfan55 like this.
  25. hotrodjack33
    Joined: Aug 19, 2019
    Posts: 1,324


    Funny you should mention Spence Murray. It was his 35/36 Ford Roadster build (R&C '68/'69) that made me realize you can have a hot rod AND a custom at the same time. Sure it would probably be faster (lighter) without the bumpers & skirts...but it could be fast enough to be respectable...and look good doing it.
    41 GMC K-18, chryslerfan55 and Sancho like this.
  26. 1Shot-Scot
    Joined: Oct 15, 2001
    Posts: 180

    from Minnesota

    That 58' is dead on for the time and era. The perfect "street custom" if you will. It was the all-out show cars of the time that took things to an almost ridiculous level where points were awarded based on changes and modifications versus the overall style and look of the finished car. Those are the cars that unfortunately led to the downfall of custom cars. That and the growing interest in going fast that Detroit picked up on. That small window of time from the late 50's to the very early 60's is my favorite era of customs and hot rods for that matter because many times that line between them was blurred.
    41 GMC K-18 and chryslerfan55 like this.
  27. Once again, I am not a die hard custom guy but when I first saw Lee Pratts car in SRM I fell in love. I was 11 years old and still have this issue.


    Attached Files:

  28. If an online forum like this one can draw lines in the sand and dictate what-n-when is allowable, and then have a cult of true believers on guard duty 24/7, then I think a magazine and its followers can certainly do the same. "Let the other guys have their own magazine" seems to be the tone of the old letter.
    But the problem is always going to be the lines tend to get blurry over time as they get scuffed and redrawn from everybody crossing over back and forth. This is going to happen and the "lines" are subject to drift.
    Maybe it's better to keep in mind what both rods and customs have in common is that they are eroding past-times, possibly becoming extinct someday. Should our focus be more about all they have in common and less about the differences? We don't have to consider them as twins but maybe as cousins at least.
  29. Curt Six
    Joined: Sep 19, 2002
    Posts: 873

    Curt Six

    I know what you mean...I thought the same thing when I was younger, but then Larry Watson changed my mind. He nailed the flamed custom look, and there have been tons of '60s-style mild customs in that vein since (think Lee Pratt's Nomad, Doug Vaughn's '52 Chevy, Mike Young's "Exotica," etc.) I guess you could argue that red or orange colored flames are for hot rods, but Jack James' Buick kinda blows that out of the water.
  30. J.Ukrop
    Joined: Nov 10, 2008
    Posts: 1,381

    Staff Member

    Curt, when I was writing this I had a feeling that if I showed you, Steve or Geoff this car, you would all say the same thing. I know it's no peanut butter and jelly, but you guys know I love ketchup and mustard!

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