The Jalopy Journal
Discussion in 'Traditional Hot Rods' started by Jive-Bomber, Dec 2, 2014.
Jive-Bomber submitted a new blog post:
The Birth of the Gow?
Continue reading the Original Blog Post
Henry and Spider on the lake
'Bout covers it! Although, somewhere I have read that Gilmore was sponsoring racing up at Muroc as early as '30 or so.
New Zealand a long time ago
This is a very interesting topic. 1932 was also the year "Hot Saturday" was released; a Hollywood movie with a very proto-Hot Rod-ish gow job in it. The thing that interests me most is where do we draw the dividing line between all the T speedsters (1916 or so through mid 1920's), both custom bodied and stripped down, and the gow job? Is there a definitive difference? Because if there isn't, then the date moves way back from 1932, to the mid-'teens.
OK. Youth from the right coast wants to know. What does GOW stand for?
I would like to know, also.
Opium (1915+ Underworld)
Any narcotic (1915+ Underworld)
Pictures of unclad or scarcely clad women; leg art: this type of artwork, which in the newspaperfield is called cheesecake and in the paperbooksfield is ''gow'' (mid-1950s+)
And young fellas would look at the scantily clad girls and say that GOW job makes a "hot rod"....
My vote is for #3. A GOW job has always been a stripped down, racy machine. My uncle who was a b25 gunner in the 8th airforce WWII used to tell me when I was a kid that his wife who he married before the war was a "Real GOW Job" when he met her.
I also remember him telling me that GOW meant "God's Own Work". Meaning a woman that didn't need a lot of man-made fancy clothes or makeup to attract the guys.
Having lunch with Isky, I will ask him
The first time I ever heard the term Gow Job was from when Robert Stack was being interviewed by a local TV station in San Luis Obispo back in the early 90s.I had to ask around,but finally got my answer.
I've also heard it stood for God on wheels. But that was much later. Either one would explain why the G is always capitalized even in mid sentence.
Check out the license plate Spotted this at the San Diego Automotive Museum several gears ago
I'd always thought it was just a perverse way of saying "GO", like, "Chevvies are for plow, Fords are for GOW". It's good to hear a few logical alternatives in this thread.
Isky thought the word GOW beginings came from "Get up and go" and that the accent differences between different parts of the country , some would say "lets gow" instead of "lets go" and that "get up and go jobs" got shortened to go-jobs or gow-jobs. Gow took over GO because nobody wanted to refer to GO-job because it sounded like somthing else.
My Grandpa ran a 1915 T roadster with a Rajo head ( from an Ex Dearborn police pursit car ) from the mid twenties. He had it stripped of all 'the fancy stuff' (I can't see where a T ever had 'fancy stuff' ) as he put it and raced up and down what was then rural Dearborn.
He never called it a Gow Job - but I would say he was spot on with the build state to earn that title
I have that same '15 T roadster now - (less the Rajo headed engine - rats) it's in need of a total rebuilt, the next big project!
Wow! You're going to have lunch with Ed Iskedarian? That's awesome! God bless, sir. I wonder how many people will honestly get to say that in their lifetime. Thank you.
This is my explanation from years of research;
Many disputes over the origin - But the most likely explanation is this;
In California in the '40s and early '50s hot Rodders despised the term "hot rod" and never used it. They considered it a black eye. To the general public a hot rod was beat-up jalopy with no muffler, careening through a school zone with a juvenile delinquent at the wheel. To the newspapers they were a menace on par with Communism and ought to be stamped out by the police. To the serious student of speed who had a lot of brains, sweat, and money tied up in a sophisticated performance car, this was nothing but an insult.
They used the terms hop-up or gow job. So where did these come from? Well, "hop" and "gow" were names for opium which were in use as far back as the late 1800s and probably came from the Chinese. In the old days they improved the performance of race horses with drugs including opium and cocaine. This was not even illegal until the early '20s and continued surreptitiously after that.
A horse that went faster than it had any right to, was said to be 'hopped-up" or "gowed-up". From there it was a short step to apply the same names to a souped-up car. By the way, human drug users got the same names. If you read a few hard-boiled detective stories from the '30s and '40s you will soon find reference to "hopped-up punks" and "gowed-up hoodlums." And people still say "Johnny is all hopped up on drugs"
Great! Now that we know pretty much how "Gow Job" came into being, how about the term "souped-up"? I heard or read that it came from a modified for performance engine was sometimes called a "super-job". Any ideas or explanations?
Blasphemy of blasphemies but maybe hot rodding didn't begin in California. This is the Flitten girls,
Dad's cousins, in Marshalltown Iowa. The front license plate is dated 1924 and the small plate above it reads " Marshalltown" Notice the fabricated radiator shell.
Just sayin ........
It's probably safe to say "it started" many places around the same time - the time cars finally became plentiful enough for the everyman. Buy a well worn crate and put it back on the road with a few of your own modifications. We see pics like this from around the country as evidence. Regardless what you choose to call it, it's pretty much the same thing.
My dad talked of the T frame and engine he and a friend had. No body, just a gas tank to sit on. Around the block they would go. Couldn't afford tires so they ran the thing on the rims for awhile. He was born in 1918 so this must have been very late 20's or early 30's. His dad was a very practical fellow ( I knew him well) and I now guess he wasn't greatly happy over the boys adventure?
The point is, these things were apparently happening around the country well before the "golden period" of organized lake racing in California.
Posted these before - my grandpa at the family shop - should be pre 1926 and before my mom. It was called the "Lincoln Pup" and there are pictures of it around northern Cali - just haven't been given those yet......the other pic is of the Dodge shop service truck - about the same time...
Hotroddon, thanks for cutting and pasting that for me. I remember writing it but couldn't find it again, you saved me writing it out again.
I don't have any specific origin for "souped up". Except "soup" was a slang term for nitroglycerine used by safe crackers that dates to the twenties or earlier. Whether there is any connection, I don't know.
I can add what very little I know about the term. Sometime in the early sixties I remember asking my Dad where the term Hot Rod came from. He said he did not know but it appeared in print and local usage "after the war". He told me that "before the war" the vehicles we are discussing were called Go Jobs. He had some cred on this as he hung out with the likes of Multy Aldrich, and Johnny Vesco who were running at "The Lakes" prior to the formation of the S.C.T.A. He was a member of the Hornets S.C.T.A. of Redlands along with Multy, Scotty, and I assume Johnny Vesco after that association was formed. I never heard him or Multy or anyone else use the word Gow Job, not to say they didn't. It would be interesting if anyone has the original issues of Throttle magazine or the compilation reprint that Rodders Journal did of Throttle five or six years ago and see if either term is used in that publication as it is in my estimation the earliest recorded history of the sport. I never heard or saw in print the term Gow Job prior to about 2005, probably here. In the mid/late sixties Car Craft Magazine did an article that ran several months called "The Hot Rod Story" might be some mention there.
I had a very quick flick through my "throttle" reprint, It mostly mentions roadsters, modifieds, streamliners etc. I did see a few mentions of "hop-ups" but no Gow jobs. (It was only a very quick flick though, I'll have a better look later on)
They were Hoped Up in July 1937..................This is one of the earliest Dry Lakes articles I have in my collection, July 1937 issue of Motor Age magazine. No Gow Jobs just "Jobs" "Jallopies" and "Mechanical Cocktails" The fact that 10,000 people drove out to watch the Muroc event amazes me, they had been racing out there for nine years, so things started in 1928. Bob
This is still the earliest photo that I've found of Ts that define the look of a gow, or hop up, cut down or hot rod for that matter. Taken in So Cal in the mid 20s when these roadster were brand new, chopped windshields, dropped axles (like Gabby did in the 30s) and raised rear crossmembers. No doubt at least one of the was running a Rajo, my grandpa bought one in '24 for his new roadster from Western Auto.
I guess my buddy's car is a Gow job....
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