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Hot Rods Are we a dying breed?

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Frozen Chosen, Jul 30, 2014.

  1. arkiehotrods
    Joined: Mar 9, 2006
    Posts: 5,364


    I will turn 58 in a couple of weeks. When I was in high school 40 years ago (in Tulsa, OK), very few people I knew were into hot rods and customs. Most were into Camaros and Mustangs, Roadrunners and Super Bees, SS Chevelles and GTOs. Back then, most hot rodders were in their 30s and older.

    I wanted a '34 Ford 5 window coupe. I ended up building a chopped, channeled, fenderless Model A coupe because not many wanted a Model A back then, and I could afford to do it. I would have bought a '34 if I had the money, but even then, they were out of my price range. I also wanted a '56 Nomad, but most nice ones at the time were around the astronomical sum of $1200!

    I see more young people into traditional hot rods and customs now than I ever did 40 years ago when I was one of the young ones. I think the only thing holding more back is the cost of HAMB-friendly vehicles. I never cease to get a crowd of younger people asking about my cars whenever I drive them somewhere. And I am also amazed at the number of young people who are (1) true to tradition and (2) are able to build some great cars out of parts most of us would have thrown away years ago. I just shake my head in wonder.

    It is so much fun to go to events and talk to young people (or younger than me, anyway!) about traditional hot rods and customs. They get it. And they will pass the torch.

    We just need to keep spreadin' the hot rod and custom gospel to hoodlums worldwide!
  2. Hollow65
    Joined: Jan 4, 2014
    Posts: 27


    I would say no, most can't afford the hobby. My truck sat for 6 years before I was financially stable enough to toss loot at it. Trouble with the law, kids and life in general gets in the way sometimes. I grew up around hot rods/muscle cars. Never really too many rat rods here in San Diego. At least that I was aware of. I don't think we're dying, I think the next version is struggling.
  3. zephyr speed
    Joined: Nov 24, 2013
    Posts: 19

    zephyr speed
    from reno nv

    My 27 year old son Rory has a large group of younger friends here and all over the US that live hot rods and will be standing in line to grab this stuff that is starting to pop up. I am long time hot rod guy that passed it on and have seen him get great parts and project cars for low $ in the last 3 years . He bought a 50 ford truck that was 85% restored (done very well) last week on craigs list for less than a used dirt bike .It was a 12 year project from a guy that the clock ran out. I like seeing this price correction to let the young guys have fun with this stuff and I never planned on my cars being a retirement account, we are just care takers.
  4. Probably a large number of us won't live long enough to see where this part of the hobby ends up, but I suspect that sooner or later it will become an even smaller segment of automotive history. For most of us, these are the cars from our youth, the cars we either owned/drove or wanted to own. As mentioned, costs will keep many away as the supply of these cars is finite, repo parts and occasional barn finds notwithstanding. How long before even fuel for them becomes hard to get? Not to mention safety requirements and traffic conditions that at some point may render these virtually undriveable except to 'special events'.

    The other killer will be that later generations who drove cars from the late 70s up and may have an interest in those will find that these cars are considerably harder to restore/rebuild due to the extensive use of plastic and specialized electronics, not to mention the 'planned obsolescence' design mantra many of these were built to. While some of this group will gravitate towards the early iron, most will simply pass as the early cars will be ill-handling gas guzzlers to many of them. While cool to look at, ownership will not be something they want.

    The upside is at some point the car/parts hoarders will die off, and as this supply comes on the market it will drive prices down some (much like the 'restorer' segment did) on the more common models.
  5. Not yet rated
    Joined: Jun 9, 2014
    Posts: 53

    Not yet rated

    Well I know for sure my two sons in New York, both in their mid-forties, have no interest in old cars. Younger son doesn't even own a car and uses public transit in NYC to get around. Older son, never took an interest in old cars. He had dinner with multi-billionaire Carlos Slim in Mexico City last year and as my son was departing the estate he commented on the '41 Cadillac in the driveway. Carlos told him he was the original owner of that caddy and in fact learned how to drive in that car. My son said his dad owned old cars and worked on them constantly. Carlos asked what kind? My son hesitated and said, "beats me. Wood cars I think." Criminy folks. My son just bought himself a new Porsche 9-something after experiencing a flat tire in his Audi a-8 and becoming enraged with Audi when they told him they didn't service the highway he was stranded on. He also bought a new land rover for his daughter on the occasion of her sixteenth birthday this year. What's an old fart to do with a millionaire son? I know what you're thinking, so don't answer that.

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  6. Malcolm
    Joined: Feb 9, 2006
    Posts: 7,465

    from Nebraska

    ^^ Same here in Omaha --- all of those automotive related courses can still be taken in high school at one central location.
  7. ynottayblock
    Joined: Dec 23, 2005
    Posts: 1,954


    I'll be 33 this year...still considered one of the younger guys. I do still see alot of younger guys into hot rods/customs but like somebody else said in this thread...the heard is thinning out. Most young guys now a days arent brought up on this stuff, so never gain an interest in with new cars today being so complicated to work on, young guys aren't getting their feet wet working on their late models either. I used to bang the drum for the younger generations, saying there will always be interest, but with the price of doing a project and the ever increasing price of period correct parts, its a hard hobby to jump into without cash to burn. My best friend is a high auto teacher, and each summer he will invite a couple of the good graduates up to his shop, for a beer and to see what he does in his personal shop. This summer he had a couple young fellas up while he was working on his 62 tbird, the one kid at one point stopped and looked at the tbird and said "I dont know if I would even want a car like this, I wouldn't know what to do with it"
  8. finn
    Joined: Jan 25, 2006
    Posts: 578


    A billion dollar a year aftermarket is less than $3.00 per person in the US. That is a comparatively miniscule number.

    Most of the people in the hobby are graybeards, or approaching it. The hobby won't die overnight, but as the country urbanizes, it will wither.
  9. olcurmdgeon
    Joined: Dec 15, 2007
    Posts: 1,937


    Popularity of old cars and us old guys that play with them will come roaring back when we have the Carrington type EMP event due to solar flares! It will fry all these computers and leave the highways open to the old rigs! We dodged one in 2012 only because the flare was pointed away from the earth. May not be lucky next time!
  10. 55chevr
    Joined: Jul 12, 2008
    Posts: 959


    Each generation focuses on what interests it has developed. We grew up with hot rods. Now kids are into video games. It wont die overnight but it will die a slow death.

  11. slammed
    Joined: Jun 10, 2004
    Posts: 8,161


    Dying yes. All manly chores are disappearing to metrosexual dysfunction in society as a whole. The HAMB is rated G now a days, most of the originals have withdrawn into the shadows. Work up a sweat, get dirty, cuss when it really gets gritty. And throw away those BOOTY socks unless you play tennis.
  12. Hollow65
    Joined: Jan 4, 2014
    Posts: 27


    Amen slammed. Now it's Facebook or whatever. My nephew was handed a car that needs a throttle body installed and it's driveable. He hasn't even taken his driving test or showed an ounce of interest in the car. Doesn't even know what a tb is. But he can name every gun on call of duty. Goddamn dorks. America is screwed. I'm 32 and I'm in to hot rods, I'm just broke is all.
  13. 49ratfink
    Joined: Feb 8, 2004
    Posts: 17,303

    from California

    funny. "$3.00 for every person in America".... those are the kinds of "facts" that politicians use when trying to get some point across. the fact that only 5% of Americans (my own guess) are into modified cars at all makes that number worthless.
  14. Jim636
    Joined: Aug 3, 2013
    Posts: 185

    from Wyandotte

    I have been trying to get my eleven yr old interested,just don't think it's going to happen.I first started with a father son go cart project that we made into a army jeep,he told me he wanted to learn how to weld. So I'm thinking ok he is starting to think about getting involved,he comes out to the garage I help him put down three one inch welds and he says " ok I'm going in the house " well I tried. So that turned into a father project. Next I get him outside to help me wet sand my car , again I'm thinking this is going somewhere WRONG he sanded half the passenger door and bailed on me.......all I can do is keep trying.
  15. Mr48chev
    Joined: Dec 28, 2007
    Posts: 25,403


    I think he hit it pretty close but I also see a lot of guys my age who are retiring and selling some of the toys that they have gathered and maybe even some property they had and deciding to build the "old" hot rod that they always wanted but never felt that they had the time or disposable income for.
    The kids are finally out on their own, the wife is finally happy with the furniture she has, The "family activity" toys have often gone down the road because the kids were the primary reason for having them, There is extra space in the garage now and even though you hit the grand kids school and sports events it doesn't consume the time that taking their parents to practice and then going to the the games or performances did, nor the expense.

    As far as the young guys being or not being interested in "old" cars or hot rods. My 48 Chevy pickup was 25 years old in 1973 when I first put it together at age 27 and a 32 Ford was 51 years old. A 1989 car is 25 years old while a 63 Impala is 51 years old. In my area I see a lot of young guys driving and building early 60's cars and taking them to shows. They are about as common now as Model A through mid 30's Fords were in the early 70's and comparing 1970's 50 year old car prices against today's 50 year old car prices and the difference in wages I'd bet the hours worked to buy a project car is close to same.
  16. raymay
    Joined: Mar 2, 2008
    Posts: 2,197


    Our kids now both in their mid 30's grew up around cars. The entire family had input on my builds. Several vacations were at weekend car shows that they still talk about. Our grandsons now 5, 7 and 9 love to cruise with Pop and hopefully will carry on the tradition. Our daughter and son-in-law are always welcome to drive one of the cars.
    I do see more of us "gray beards" now at shows and less younger participants. The sport has changed over the years. It can get expensive for a young family especially when they see all the megabucks cars that they might think is the norm. A home built ride with badge of honor stone chips on the hood is good enough for me. I always said "Build what you like and what you can afford. The only person you really need to please is yourself".
    I hope the current lack of younger participation is just a cycle and really don't think the interest will ever go away.
    scan0005.jpg sleep101035.JPG
  17. Yes we are a dying breed... but then again I don't want it to be an "in" thing

    Jim636... keep trying here are some early pics of our son (now 17) and he finally asked if my '52 Pontiac hardtop might be done "enough" for his senior year in high school.


    Making the lowering blocks



    A few years ago on the way to a show

  18. I've read through this thread three times now, and I've seen similar ones posted before. Trying to come up with a comment but I'm not sure on my thoughts on it. I'm in my late thirties so it could mean a chance to buy more cars that are really interesting to me when the Boomers make them, um, shall we say- available?
    Problem is, I like you grouchy old bastards too.

    Verbal- The jailbar looks good there, nice stance.
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2014
  19. redo32
    Joined: Jul 16, 2008
    Posts: 1,470


    Thirty years ago I used to go shows and almost spent as much time looking at the good lookin girls as the cars. Even on here in years past the event coverage usually had a couple of pics of babes. I didn't get to go to LARS and studied all the pics here....There's nothing but old grey haired fat guys in the pictures. A good buddy passed last month & I looked through pictures of our past rod runs and I couldn't believe how many friends we have lost. When I was little the hot thing was brass era cars and now it's muscle cars. Things change and our minutes on this planet are finite.
  20. Six-Shooter
    Joined: Jul 12, 2010
    Posts: 341

    from Ohio

    Last edited: Jul 31, 2014
  21. carpok
    Joined: Dec 29, 2009
    Posts: 389

    from Indy

    Lots of good post I can relate to parts of all of them.
    Some shots of the grand kids playing in the garage with grandpa. I have a picture of there Dad at that age in my 55 nomad having a ball driving and shifting. All we can do is hope that passion is passed on in some way. Ron

    ct1932ford likes this.
  22. Rusty O'Toole
    Joined: Sep 17, 2006
    Posts: 8,979

    Rusty O'Toole

    Dying breed, ha, we don't always smell that way.
  23. sad to say but yes we are a dying breed. We related to what we drove when we where teens. I couldn't afford the sixties cars in the sixties . so I owned & drove the fifties vehicles. and I still own lots of them. the young kids for the most part don't have the cash money desire and aren't willing to learn the know how required. the next generation wants instant gratification. that's why they purchase new cars on credit and pay more for them than my house cost. on another forum someone asked where to borrow money to purchase a old truck. I replied if you have to borrow money to buy a old vehicle you couldn't afford one. Us gray beard baby boomers are the last to really enjoy the smell of raw gas and tire smoke.
  24. Saxon
    Joined: Aug 9, 2008
    Posts: 2,154

    from MN

    Geez I'm not a baby boomer and hope I'm not dead any time soon. Classic cars aren't going away. Its history. Rr might be... Hopefully
  25. At 49 I've always thought that I am just outside the baby boomers (a lot of my hot rodder friends are older) and there seems to be a big age gap in guys younger than me that are interested.) But there are 200,000 plus people that have joined the HAMB so there is interest in the old junk. The hobby will certainly change, but it will not die.
    Malcolm and need louvers ? like this.
  26. okiedokie
    Joined: Jul 5, 2005
    Posts: 3,607

    from Ok

    Funny this came up. Just today I was looking at a magazine from 1984. The editorial was about how there were no young guys getting involved. This was in a magazine called Street Rod Quarterly [Hot Rod special]. The editor was talking about how all the guys involved were grey beards and the hobby was becoming just a bunch of old guys. Here we are 30 years later having the same discussion.
    Malcolm likes this.
  27. We- all of us that enjoy this old car hobby are the stewards of the destiny of the hobby- if we don't carry the torch and pass it on- who will? When you see a young person with what they perceive as an old vehicle - don't shut them out- rather -accept and take an interest in that person their interest and and help to nurture a passion for what we know as the gospel of old cars.

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  28. need louvers ?
    Joined: Nov 20, 2008
    Posts: 12,912

    need louvers ?

    I was going to say the same thing. Since I was a kid (I'm 49 too Roadsir) I have been hearing that there are NO younger guys doing this stuff, and it's all gonna be gone in ten years, etc. Yet here it is 35 years later and I'm still here, and the population of hot rodders walking around Phoenix has positively exploded in the last decade or two. I used to know everybody in town, now it's just too daunting to even try.
    I flip on my T.V. on any given night, and there are at least two car based shows (mostly bad) to watch. In Phoenix on any given Friday or Saturday night there are 6-8 small car shows in every corner of town that you can go to. I'm truly getting older, but the tatoo'd and greasy seem to be getting younger by the day. Sure they aren't driving '32 three windows, they are driving '52 Plymouth Cranbrook 4 doors, but guess what.... They are doing SOMETHING with them! Even funnier to me, is some of them are reverently seeking my advice these days just as I did MY mentors when I was in my twenties and kinda unsure of my skills. Guess what? I'm answering their questions and helping them as much as I can! Likewise, when my buddy Ronnie calls and needs help stabbing an engine in his latest project, 'cause at 70 he just isn't moving as quickly as he did, I'm there like shot to do it.

    I just don't see the doom and gloom here gang...
  29. twenty8tudor
    Joined: Oct 5, 2010
    Posts: 796

    from Ohio

    I'm 31 been into cars for ever (sadly muscle cars at first) but was tracing/outlining cars out of magazines with carbon paper in grade school so I could use crayons and colored pencils to "paint" them how I wanted to.

    I run around with a group of guys I'm town age anywhere from 40-80, a lot of young people are not into hotrods in this town but when I go to trog, jalopy showdown, goodguys, and the salt flats I see a lot of people in their late 20s-30s there...

    I would say a lot of them don't have their cars done or if they have a job are working the weekends and can't make it to shows and events. For the past 12yrs up until last week I had to use personal time or vacation days to go to any even on Saturdays. So I missed a fair amount of events. I consider myself very lucky to have the job that I do and able to travel a little bit to such places as the salt flats..

    In this economy makes it hard to build a car and I don't have kids,wife, or girlfriend.

    But in closing I'm doing all I can to get my nephew into cars and trucks (which hasn't been a hard sale for now)

    About a year ago

    A couple weeks ago
    ct1932ford likes this.
  30. Rusty O'Toole
    Joined: Sep 17, 2006
    Posts: 8,979

    Rusty O'Toole

    Ya the old guys are dying and the cars are not worth anything. When I am 90 I will finally be able to afford the cars I always wanted. Or, all the cars I wanted.

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