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Hot Rods What caused you to become afflicted with the hot rod/custom sickness?

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Roothawg, Jul 4, 2018.

  1. 59Tele
    Joined: Feb 5, 2016
    Posts: 129


    Great thread, I loved reading the stories. People are endlessly fascinating. My first interest was when I was probably at age 4 or maybe even 3. I was born in '50 and the family moved in early summer of '54 to a summer cottage (water pumped from the pond up to a tank behind the house, outhouse, kerosene lanterns) while my dad built the new house. Before we moved, I remember a metallic blue '53 or'54 Ford convertible in the neighborhood with a white top, wide whitewalls, skirts, lowered in the rear for sure. If I added spots, nosed and decked or Continental kit I'd just be guessing but in any case, it rang my bell. Around the same time, I was on my tricycle when the neighbors across the street pulled in their driveway, not with the grey 4-door Nash bathtub but with a pinkish Studebaker Lowrey coupe. Wow. Dropped me in my 3-wheeled tracks.
    So my dad got the new house built, I started riding the schoolbus in '56 and passed a house every day with an orange (!) '40 Ford Coupe that may have had a Cadillac engine. This guy always had nice cars. his next was a white '58 Corvette. At some point there was a shitbox black '49 Ford that he bought from the school janitor that went missing for a while and then showed up in a deep metallic green. No matter what he drove, the look was always just perfect. The same went for his house and yard.
    In junior high there was a silver grey'50 Chevy coupe with a Hilborn-injected Buick, straight axle, radiused wheel-well, M&H slicks that 3 guys campaigned. No goofy lettering or decals, all business.

    Summer of '64. I'm 14 and by now I'm like a lot of the rest of you with the bicycles, lawnmowers, gokarts, power tools, the 110-volt buzzbox welder the old man had kicking around that he never figured out but I did (thank you Popular Mechanics) and somehow the guys my age that I was closely associated with ALL knew what 2 hands were meant for. My brother was 2 years older than me and there were 2 guys next door the same ages. My dad had a gas/repair station after the war and did all the car and house repairs with all the attendant tools. The guys next door's dad was an aircraft machinist with all his tools and knowledge so between the 2 households, we were unfucking stoppable. When we became Boy Scouts we'd go to the Jamborees and compete against all the other troops and never even gave a shit about any of it and come award night we were more surprised than anyone. We were such a bunch of screwups they HATED giving us anything, much less everything. Proud member of the Beaver Patrol, I am.

    Saving the best for last. Late summer of '64 ( by now the guys next door had a '35 Ford pickup in their back yard with a stuck clutch and frozen flathead that the Beaver patrol applied their best abilities to, is there a Flathead merit badge? Should be) I'm on my Hercules about 1/2 mile from home and in the middle of an intersection, stalled with no one around, is the REAL DEAL. Grey primer, red rims with Port-A-Walls and chrome lugs, no hood, 2 Strombergs, Offenhauser heads, with acorn nuts, scavenger pipes, raked, black T&R interior, suicide knob, front plate held on with coathanger, '39 Ford Coupe. To this day it's the best hotrod I've ever seen. I've seen nicer but not better. There wasn't a single thing about it I would call "nice" but I would call it "perfect".
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  2. Casey Riley
    Joined: Jun 27, 2018
    Posts: 452

    Casey Riley
    from Minnesota

    It fascinates me how many guys are citing putting together model cars as the catalyst of their passion. That is exactly what got me into cars.
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  3. Deuces
    Joined: Nov 3, 2009
    Posts: 18,538

    from Michigan

    I've got the H.A.M.B. :D;)
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  4. 739E2191-C77F-46DC-85C5-E6E53275702C.jpeg My father was a fairly famous and gifted college professor from Texas A&M University. He was so renowned and sought after such that every summer(for the entire summer) our family was the guest of a university where my dad taught college classes at that university out of state. The summer of 1964 we went to Denver for him to teach. I was a sophomore in high school. One night we ate at a drive in similar to a Sonic or Mickey D’s. Our 57 Chevy 4 dr was parked 3 ft away from a 64 Ford Thunderbolt on a Car hauler and I could see the entire undercarriage of the race car because it was 4 ft off the ground. It belonged to Rick Hern(according to the letters painted on the car) and I was looking at a “factory” Ford racer.
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  5. partsdawg
    Joined: Feb 12, 2006
    Posts: 2,662

    from Minnesota

    Age 7 with a neighbor on one side with a flip front '55 Chevy gasser drag car and on the other a older gentleman who bought and sold '55-'57 Thunderbirds. The old guy gave me old issues of Hemmings and Cars & Parts magazines.
    The young guy with the dragster let me bump the starter while he set the valves.
    Thanks Ron Thoney and Frank Banzak for getting me started.
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  6. Jkmar73
    Joined: Dec 1, 2013
    Posts: 33

    from Tulare, CA

    I kind of always been around cars my whole life, but my dad was probably the biggest influence. My grandad used to race small town dirt track in the late 40’s and early 50’s. Dad used to do some drag racing. Nothing major, just run what you brung type of stuff. As a kid, I always played with toy cars and made models and was in the garage when dad was working on the family cars or friends cars.

    Growing up in SoCal there was always some car show going on or race somewhere. Dad used to keep me home from time to time to go to car shows, truck shows. Once, went to the Winternationals. I still remember the time he woke me up at midnight to watch “The California Kid” on tv because of the 34’ in the movie.

    When we moved to Central California, the car influence still kept going. Took auto shop all through high school. My old high school auto teacher happens lives down the street from my dad. He is always driving around the neighborhood in everything from brass era cars he restored, his 31’ model A hot rod, or his wife’s 56’ vette she got new for a graduation present. He has swung by dad’s house to see how our progress of our 31’ coupe is going.

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  7. banjeaux bob
    Joined: Aug 31, 2008
    Posts: 5,874

    banjeaux bob
    from alaska

    It all started in the school yard in about second grade.My buddy Steve digs this Matchbox car out of his pocket.I liked the quality and detail of that small package. Then I moved onto model cars and Hot Rod magazines.Then there were a couple of guys renting a couple of garages in the across the street and the other across the alley from my house.These guys were swapping Cadillac engines into Studebakers.They were building Stude-aminos with custom paint jobs.Building Ford hot rods.These were the first guys I knew who didn't punch a clock for a living...other than milk farmers.My eyes were opened to the world of unlimited possibilities of hot rodding.
  8. Always liked cars but really "got into them" about 1963 at 9-10 years old when living a next door to a circle track racer in Bakersfield CA. I still remember the first time hearing that thing fire up with open exhaust. I ran over to see what made such a beautiful noise. He ran a '59 T-Bird that was a pretty consistent winner and hauled me to the races as a crew member. I spent a lot of time in his garage which was a great education and I tried my best to earn it.
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  9. Stogy
    Joined: Feb 10, 2007
    Posts: 16,306


    I met Hamber @scruff at 12 yrs old and he was already breathing Hotrods through his late fathers Hotrod involvement since he was a young man. Story after story about the modding and lifestyle revolving around the street scene on the East Coast of Canada...His Dad had some really cool old cars. So hanging around this fella like a second brother the bug was set...Lets see 37 GMC pickup, 57 Chevy 2 dr hrdtp, 39 Chev, and the list grew from there and yeah it'll be there till I die. The Hamb came along through his suggestion and it gets a fair bit of my time as well as the Hamb fulfills a niche that barely exists around these parts.

    I found this post below and it verifies my thoughts expressed and what a cool old car Big Al had in the pic Scruff posted of his Late Dad.

    RIP Big Al

    Last edited: Jul 9, 2018
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  10. I was roughly 7ish in about 1990 on at side street crossing lake city way. A big 4 lane highway. Just as we pull up to the light, I hear something moving pretty good...suddenly a red muscle car streaks by... My dad,who was actually fairly knowledgable guy about cars, as long as he wasn't working on them. Haha! Said it was a 1967, I was already into toy cars at this point and was already well on my way.... But I had never really seen or heard anything like that before....
    I guess I was just instantly hooked. I believe I later tracked down what I think was the same car down in the Wallingford neighborhood, when I moved there in middle school. The guy worked at the local parts house, which ended up being on the same block as my future high school. By this time I was already hooked on cars and reading every car mag i could get, and my dream car was a 1967 gto. So it actually ended up that I asked him if he would sell, and to my surprise he said yes, and so my dad and I went and looked at it that weekend, as he only lived a few blocks from our house. It was gorgeous all original example, except some cragers. Original 400 4speed car. Red with black interior. Well cared for, and he was asking 12k or some thing like that. Which was still a lot of money but it was like 1996 by then. And things hadn't gotten crazy. We got to talking and as it turns out he needex to sell so he had money to dig out his basement...well it just so happens my dad is a contractor...I was so excited. My dad actually thought about it prettt seriously, as long as I helped. But it would have taken to long as he could only work weekends and even though I was free for the summer, he didn't want me working alone even just digging (he was smarter than I was willing to admit at the time) deal...I did end up with a 1967 tempest convertible as my first car, then a 72 blazer (still have it) then a rough 67 gto (just sold it after 16 years together, I'll have another) then a $300 dollar 68 Catalina(drove for year then gave up its engine for gto)...I guess i just spireled from there...
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  11. mkebaird
    Joined: Jan 21, 2014
    Posts: 335


    My dad was always a car guy, me too. From his first car in 1938 - a '29 roadster with chopped windshield and 16" wheels, to my latest - a heavily modified '60 Corvette, we have 80 years of hot rodding between us!
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  12. cad-lasalle
    Joined: Sep 1, 2010
    Posts: 91

    from grafton nh

    You sure did and put 100,000 + miles on your first build! Model A coupe.
    Stogy likes this.
  13. From as early as I can remember my dad always has us around cars. We always seemed to be going to shows, races, demo derbies, his friends service stations or his friends junkyard. My dad worked for the phone company and in my lifetime he never tinkered on cars, just repaired them as best he could. He loves customs and hot rods, story goes he had a few quick muscle cars in his day, but by the time we were all born (i am #2 of 4) he only had a collection of formerly running cars and motorcycles. One of the greastest weekends was when dad and a friend pulled the cover off his 1967 malibu convertible and got it running. The car was rusty, back window missing, but it had a 283 & 4 speed and was the coolest thing to ride in. When I was 2 dad bought a 1937 chevy sedan and for as long as I can remember he said it was my car when I was ready (finally happened 2014 at age 27). He never pushed cars on us but included us in his hobby. I do the same with my 3 year old daughter who is taking a liking to cars now, especially Jeep Wrangler for some reason
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  14. Hot Wheels, AFX, AMT & American Graffiti.
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  15. Karrera
    Joined: Jan 19, 2008
    Posts: 169


    Rod & Custom magazine got me hooked in the late 1960's. That my dad's first car was a Ford V-8 60 powered midget racer might have had something to do with it as well. His stories of roaring around the streets of the Panama Canal Zone in his "hotrod" just maybe got me wound up a bit.

  16. DRD57
    Joined: Mar 5, 2001
    Posts: 3,733


  17. Great thread, Chris!

    I caught the bug from dad and his buddies, when I was 4 years old. Dad bought his '34 sedan around 1970, Dickie Carroll finished up his '32 5 window around that same time, and they and 7 other guys started the Roaring 30's car club. It was a blast being around all the old street rods, and I had a thing for '40 Fords. To this day, I still have a blast hanging around with dad's old club member buddies.

    Meanwhile, I had a great aunt and uncle who were into restored cars, and they had several while I was growing up. My uncle would buy and sell all the old stuff he could find, and usually would bring them over to let me drive them before he sold 'em. He is also the guy who hauled off an old car for a lady, that happened to become my current '40 coupe. This same uncle bought the '40 stake truck that I have, back in the 70's. It's the vehicle I learned to drive a 3 speed in, and I am so stinking fortunate to have had a generous aunt and uncle!

    I think that my uncle and aunt were the reason I like to see the cars with mostly stock looking stuff on the inside, and Dad and his hot rod buddies are why I like for them to have the wheels, stance, and make noise when ya step on the gas.

    IMG_1110.JPG IMG_1842.JPG
  18. dodge35
    Joined: Feb 9, 2010
    Posts: 73

    from kentucky

    When i was 9 or 10 years old i was riding my bike in my neighborhood and two "greasers" roared by in their roadsters. I stopped and stared at them with my mouth hanging open. I never saw them again, from that point on i was hooked.
  19. A Seabee
    Joined: May 9, 2017
    Posts: 24

    A Seabee

    I love this thread, and the stories. Here's mine
    I was born in '61, my grandfather on mom's side always owned a gas station and had different cars around as far back as I can remember. Plymouth, Chevy, Ford, Dodge, Mercury, Buick.. He had a '49 Buick Special that he bought new stored in his garage at home. They drove that car out from Illinois in 1950 when they moved to Arizona. My grandma drove a '62 Comet with 3 on the tree. His son (my uncle) bought a 63 1/2 Galaxy in about 1964 and raced it both on the street and strip. He eventually went to work for GM as a test track driver, but retired as an engineer My dad always ended up with some type of used car from grandpa's station, mostly Chevy. I can't remember when I wasn't interested in cars and hot rods. I think I was about 10 when my best friend Neil and I dragged an old Studebaker flathead 4 home in in a wagon. We took it apart with a crescent wrench and a hammer just to see how it looked inside, how it worked. We worked on bikes and lawnmowers. We bought and built models with paper route money. We rode around for hours everyday on our bikes searching for old cars and trucks. My uncle gave me some old hot rod magazines, we would pour over them, read every word and study every picture. A neighbor had a '57 Fairlane broken down in her front yard. I begged her to sell it to me when I was 12, but she wouldn't. 3 houses down, was a black '37 Plymouth coupe...same story. We followed drag racing, stock car racing, collected the Tad Burness Auto Album drawings from the Sunday newspaper, rode to the car dealerships and hassled the salesmen about their lack of knowledge about cars and engines. Hung out at gas stations and speed shops being pests.
    The obsession continued through high school, where I majored in auto shop, metal shop, engine rebuilding and burnouts. My first car was a '69 Roadrunner 383 4 speed coupe, dog dish hubcaps, bench seat, AM radio. But alas, when I tired of driving a tow truck at night and "going" to school for 4 1/2 years, I settled on a GED. During a hitch in the Marines, I traded the Roadrunner for something else, the guy ended up sliding sideways through 50' of chain link fence and came to rest against a concrete irrigation box, totaling the Plymouth. I kinda went into a funk after seeing that car wadded up like that. .Played around with VW's and motorcycles for a while in the 90's. But the memories of all the things that filled my young mind never went away.-the images, smells, sounds, feelings came back to me stronger than ever over the past couple of years, especially after a trip to Bonneville in 2016! Happy to have been born when I was, and proud to be part of the culture I grew up with.
  20. jnaki
    Joined: Jan 1, 2015
    Posts: 4,488



    Wow…talk about getting an early jump start on all of us out in the West coast! Cool convertible and race car on the trailer. That would have been something to see on the road. Nice history, Dean. We saw/met you at a quarter midget race in So Cal. You were a little kid at the Los Alamitos ¼ midget race track. The several times we saw you, it was as if we knew you from the stories we heard. You were already a legend. My friend’s dad always had great things to say about your competitive spirit, winning and constantly racing against his son.

    My brother and I wanted to be circle track racers like our friend and your top competitor, in the ¼ midget ranks. It was thrilling to be racing in a vehicle that looked like ones we saw at Ascot and on TV, only smaller. We were influenced by my dad’s friend, his son’s ability, the Kurtis Kraft Racer, and you with your ¼ midget running around that circle, winning races left and right.

    We had been modifying anything we could get our hands on, just to make it cool looking or go faster. Lawnmower? Take off the muffler, add a straight pipe, paint the body bright red…etc. (crappy flames that did not look right…)that made mowing the big lawns much better. Bikes? Take off the fenders, loosen the girder fork spring for better compression, bigger seat for cruising, etc. roller skates, changed into street, orange crate, scooter wheels. Then, it was models of all kinds like most of the young kids across America.

    All things boys: mechanical, like to take things apart, modifying what ever was lying in the garage, etc. By then, we had been reading almost every R&C, Hot Rod magazines. So, by the time my brother was driving age, the real stuff came rolling into place. I still had about 3 years to go, but I was already doing mechanical stuff as well as being the person who did the maintenance on that California Rake-lowered, Moon Disc, 1951 Olds Sedan.


    We did what typical So Cal hot rod influenced kids would do on any afternoon. Modify something to make it cooler, go faster, and definitely sound better. A 3 hp lawnmower with a curved, straight through pipe made an equal sound to the modern “bee buzzer Wrx and Honda cars.” Those were our mods for the times.

    School was part of the equation. The subjects and teachers gave us lots of time to experiment, draw fancy hot rods or custom scallop or flames, etc. The Jr. HS crafts classes were used to do things for our older hot rod driving friends, like make multiple layer plastic radio knobs, shifter knobs and key ring holders. In high school those classes got longer and allowed us dream a lot more. The Driver Ed. Behind the wheel study halls (2 hr) also gave us time to do more drawings of what we liked on our Pee Chee notebook folders.

    Our dad was supportive of the two brothers’ activities. He allowed me to steer his big 41 Buick and then his bigger 49 Roadmaster when I was little. He was always there to champion the two brothers in whatever activity popped up for experimentation. But, his thing was baseball, sports, family, and all types of fishing/ camping. No hot rod background other than a long line of Buicks from 1941 to 82.

  21. paul philliup
    Joined: Oct 3, 2013
    Posts: 181

    paul philliup
    from ohio

    IMG_20161211_082300947.jpg IMG_20161211_081528403.jpg IMG_20161211_080837215.jpg IMG_20161211_081507007.jpg IMG_20161211_081558393.jpg I watch the movie To Please a Lady and The Big Wheel in the mid to late 50's. As soon as I got my license I was racing and now at 65 I'm building my 2nd hot rod while still dragracing .
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  22. Pinstriper40
    Joined: Sep 24, 2007
    Posts: 3,310


    My Dad and uncles were always giving me Hotwheels and model kits... And in high school I was hangin' around with the "wrong folks". In high school I'd visit a local pinstriper and hotrodder, who I would talk about aesthetics and styling and everything hot rod related until the wee hours of the morning with. I got my '40 sedan (field car) when I was 14, and it's been downhill ever since. Now I'm 31 and it's become a career... And I love almost every minute of it. Building big cars just like the model kits I built when I was a kid! This hobby has taken me places and given me opportunities that I'm extremely grateful for. The picture is just for fun. DSC06483.JPG
    Joined: Jul 20, 2006
    Posts: 2,424


    When I was in the 5th or 6th grade a neighbor across the street built a 40 Ford pickup with a 50 flathead. He took the fenders, hood and grill from a 40 deluxe and put that on the truck. I was hooked from then on. I would go over and help him. Don't know if I really helped or not though.
  24. dana barlow
    Joined: May 30, 2006
    Posts: 3,883

    dana barlow
    from Miami Fla.
    1. Y-blocks

    Into world in 1942,by late 40s,Toy cars,toy trains,Erector set,more Erector sets added together,modal airplans n motors,lawnmower motors on bikes an home made gocarts just kind of became real cars,hot rods an customs,drove hotrod to highschool<still have an drive it} my custom Henry J was in Car Craft mag in Jan.1963/ Built an drove race cars for 40+ years on oval an sports car tracks. Still having fun with it all. Artdeco Gas Station Coral Way n 17ave Miami Fl..JPG
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  25. Bandit Billy
    Joined: Sep 16, 2014
    Posts: 6,518

    Bandit Billy

    Girls that dig tuck and roll interior.
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  26. 51 mercules
    Joined: Nov 29, 2008
    Posts: 2,985

    51 mercules

    My dad wasn't into cars. But he bought a T Bucket Peddle Car, hot wheels and slot cars when I was little. I really got hooked when I saw American Graffiti and when my neighbor Bondo Bob Brown let me sit and rev up his 57 corvette drag car when I was teenager.[​IMG]
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  27. robert4005
    Joined: Jul 14, 2009
    Posts: 45


    I can’t remember a time when I didn’t just love OLD mechanical stuff, tractors, trucks, trains and especially antique cars. One of my earliest memories is me and my dad going to see and old railroad steam engine. When I was about 9 years old in about 1972 I was in the Rexall drug store in Villa Grove Illinois and saw a Popular Hot Rodding magazine on the rack, had a yellow 41 Willy’s on the cover. That did it been hooked ever since . Around the same I bought my second magazine probably one of the earliest issues of Street Rodder.
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  28. My Dad had many cool old cars always convertibles 35 Auburn Speedster, 39 Merc, 41 Buick tub, 49 Ford, 52 Ford so cars were around. Then I lived in Sunland Ca Ray Vega tub and Norm Grabowsky 22 T and many other great cars were at my High School, Verdugo Hills High School. One of the Owls Car club stole the Hirohata Merc from a car lot in Pasadena and drove it to school when it was green and gold, cruised the school for about an hour before the Cops came and took them away. My step Dad was Tommy Ivo's movie agent and had Tommy take me for a ride in his T when I was 12, all that did it for me. It was really great growing up in the 50's in So Cal, got to see and do a lot. Forgot to mention the little books, Honk, Hopup, Rod and Custom, they all fit inside your school book so you could really study.
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2018
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  29. All the older guys were working on stockcars and they would let an elementary school kid hang around while they prepped for Saturday Night. The library would have issues of Hot Rod in stock so I could got there and dream. We would be continually be drawing cars all over our notebooks as well. There was a `64 chevelle that was lowered in the Super Stock class that I really liked,turned out that I worked with the driver many years after in a shipyard. I guess it was the local track that got me started.
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  30. jrbunch
    Joined: May 31, 2018
    Posts: 17


    Since I was approximately 12 years old, I've loved old car and putting together models. 3 of my uncles built cars from parts out of the junk yards, they raced cars and during that time I hung around with them as much as I could. The last one of them passed a year ago at the age of 93.

    I built my first car at age 14, a 1952 Ford with a flattie and dual carbs but never got to drive it. An ex-BIL stole it, stripped it, and sold the pieces for his drugs. I'm 65 now and have built and owned many hot rods since then, belong to several car clubs. This is the first year I have done one of the local parades without a car with a Ford flathead, sold my '28 Model A 3 months ago.

    I enjoy cars, but I enjoy driving them much more. No trailer queens in my garage.
    chryslerfan55 likes this.

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