There is nothing quite like watching a hot rod in action. Not only do they look amazing, but, in general, their performance is something to behold as well. There is a sheer excitement when a hot rod lines up facing the lights!
And the culture of hot rodding is very unique. From its humble beginnings, it has helped push the boundaries in ways in which cars can be modded both performance-wise and in their overall looks.
Hot rodding has also branched out from a sport where the local kids used to show off their cars to a full-blooded sport. Drag racing as we know it today has its roots firmly in the culture of hot rodding. Even Top Fuel dragsters, capable of speeds of over 300 mph, are based on the ingenuity of those early hot rod pioneers. But just how much do you know about hot rods, the cars, the engines, the association that governs racing in the United States and the racers who bravely take on the track? Do you think you can beat our Hot Rod quiz?
It is going to take some doing, because these questions will test your knowledge of hot rodding to the full. Good luck!
The idea behind a hot rod is to take an ordinary car, usually one that is a few decades old, and to spruce it up a little. This means lowering it, putting massive tires on it, modifying the engine to produce even more horsepower and adding a flame paint job ... don't forget the flames. OK, you can paint it how you want!
Roadsters are very popular in the hot rod community. These convertibles have seats for a driver and passenger and no side windows, just a front windshield. An example of a roadster would be a early 1930s Ford Model A, usually with a V8 engine.
Hot rods certainly have their origins in California in the 1920s. Not only did youngsters modify their cars and race in the streets of Los Angeles, they took them to the dry lakes of California to race them as well.
Prince, too, mentioned a red corvette in his song, "Little Red Corvette" from 1982's album, "1999." Ellie Gee and the Jets "Red Corvette" was written by Ben Raleigh and Jeff Barry. Released by Madison records, it clocked in at 2:41 long and had "I Go, You Go" as its B-side.
The Flathead V8 was a revelation by Ford in 1932. Quite simply put, at the time, there was nothing similar to it out there. Most importantly, it was cheap, which made it more accessible to people struggling through the Great Depression. And it could be modified to produce even more power!
Repro refers to reproduction parts for hot rods. Sometimes getting original parts for older cars is difficult and reproductions are used instead. Don't worry, they work just as well as the originals thanks to the fact that they are made by engineers in the know.
The first generation of the Chrysler HEMI engine was introduced in 1951 and was used until 1958. Interestingly, it was called the Chrysler FirePower engine. A second generation followed from 1964 to 1971 and the HEMI was reintroduced by Chrysler in 2003.
Pontiac produced some iconic names in motoring, and none more so than its GTO. The first models, released in 1964, were available in a convertible, hardtop and coupe. This was a serious muscle car and remains a firm favorite with hot rod enthusiasts today. Sadly, there are no more modern GTOs as the brand was discontinued in 2010.
Although you don't often hear it called street rodding, that is another term for people racing hot rods. And it makes complete sense because back in the old days, these races would take place on abandoned streets.
After the war, many military aerodromes were simply not needed anymore, as the United States Air Force scaled back their operations. And that left tarmac runways standing with nothing to do. Hot rodders quickly made these runways their racetracks.
The 1932 Ford is affectionately known as the "Deuce" in hot rodding. These model B's can be either a 3-window or 5-window version. Of course, they have to have V8 power! Not only was "Little Deuce Coupe" a B-side by the Beach Boys, but it was also the name of their fourth album.
Before they were called hot rods, modified cars were called "gow jobs". The first modification made to a car that was turned into a "gow job" was to remove any excess weight. That made it far lighter and gave a performance boost without having to tinker with the engine.
Knowing an engine's RPM is crucial, especially on a manual transmission vehicle. Normally a gauge will be able to tell you how fast the engine is running. If a car does not have a rev limiter, it is really easy to blow the engine if you over-rev it.
Historians tell us that California was the birthplace of hot rodding. From racing the streets of Los Angeles to salt pans away from the city, during the Depression, more and more hot rodders came to the fore.
Although most hot rod enthusiasts didn't have money to go out and buy new cars during the Great Depression, that didn't stop them from building hot rods. Often, they would get older vehicles that had been assigned to the scrap heap, find spare parts, rebuild and turn those into hot rods.
Nowadays, hot rods are mostly called hot rods but back in the day, they had many names. We have already seen that some preferred to call early hot rods "gow jobs". Others went for another name, calling vehicles with modified engines in particular, "soup-ups."
A roll cage is a protection device that fits inside the cabin and adds structural integrity. Made out of steel tubes, this is necessary on all hot rods that are racing to provide protection for the driver. In essence, if a vehicle rolls, especially a roadster, the driver cannot be crushed in any way thanks to this protection.
Johnny Cash's 1976 hit "One Piece At A Time" is a wonderful song with a rich story. Cash tells us that while working at the Cadillac plant, he decides to take car parts, one part at a time to eventually build himself a car but because it takes years, he steals parts from many different cars and ends up building a true hot rod!
With over 15 million having been built between 1908 and 1927, finding Ford Model T's to turn into a hot rod wasn't much of a problem for the early hot rodding pioneers. The Model A was also a particular favorite. Cars were stripped down to lighten the load, engines were tuned and soon, a hot rod was born.
Well, there are two reasons why hot rodders like to put bigger tires on the rear of their vehicles compared to the front. Firstly, it gives the car a way more aggressive look. And secondly, it increases gear ratios which meant the vehicle could accelerate in each gear for longer.
Engines such as the Ford Flathead V8 were fairly powerful for the day but would struggle to hit 100 mph. That was before hot rodders did a few modifications. And they were not only to the engine. Cars were stripped of any excess weight to improve both power-to-weight ratio as well as top speed.
In 1948, after a downturn because of World War II, hot rodding began to revive again thanks to the servicemen who returned from the war. The first ever hot rod exhibition was held at the National Guard Armory in Los Angeles and was attended by 10,000 people!
With racing a popular part of the hot rod scene, a governing body was established in 1951 to help oversee competitive races. This was the National Hot Rod Association. It was founded by Willy Parks.
Top Fuel dragsters are the epitome of organized hot rod racing. These incredible machines are lightning quick. That's thanks to their massive engines that also produce 7,400 lb-ft of torque, these vehicles reach 330 mph in next to no time.
The Ford Model A is a favorite of hot rodders in America. This vehicle was the predecessor of the Model T and Ford produced it for a three-year period from 1928 to 1931.
Jim Croce released "Rapid Roy the Stock Car Boy" in 1972 on the album "You Don't Mess Around with Jim". And Rapid Roy's vehicle of choice? A '57 Chevy, of course.
After the organization was established in 1951, the National Hot Rod Association held their first Nationals in 1955. This took place at an old aerodrome at Great Bend in Kansas.
1973's "American Graffiti" was directed by George Lucas. Yes, George Lucas of Star Wars fame. This pre-Star Wars movie stars Richard Dreyfuss and Ron Howard. It famously includes a Ford Coupe which interestingly, had a Chevy engine!
Funny Car dragsters are easy to identify. This is due to the fact that they have carbon fiber or fiberglass bodies that tilt up when mechanics work on the car. This reveals the chassis and the engine all in one. Today's Funny Cars that race in the NHRA championship include Ford Mustangs, Chevrolet Camaros and Dodge Chargers.
If you "dig out" in hot rodding, , you are crunching the accelerator pedal as hard as possible and into the floor board of the vehicle. This causes the hot rod to accelerate the fastest it can. Of course, National Hot Road Association events, there is only one way to win, and that's to "dig out".
A three-time Top Fuel champion, Antron Brown won the title in 2012, 2015 and 2016. He currently has more than 50 victories to his name.
'Big Daddy' John Garlits is one of the most well-known names in drag racing. Garlits is responsible for the rear-engined dragster design we know today and is considered the father of the sport. Garlits won a total of 17 world championships.
The Chevrolet Small-Block V8 was first released in 1955 and by the end of that year, over a million had been built. Simple, yet effective and powerful, derivatives of this engine are still made today and over 100 million have been made.
Hot rodding has a language all of its own. For instance a '32 Ford is called a deuce. But other Ford hot rods are given a name as well. They are simply known as blue ovals and it all has to do with the shape and color of the Ford badge!
Some hot rodders like to keep a few canisters of nitrous oxide in their vehicles. Famously known as NOS, this gives the engine greater amounts of oxygen to burn, greatly increasing the power as more fuel is used to keep the air/fuel ratio correct.