Chris Hol­strom gives his take on what trends we’re likely to see through­out 2018

Chevy High Performance - - Contents - Text & Pho­tos: Chris Hol­strom

I’m not sure who first coined the proverb, “the more things change, the more they stay the same.” I think there is a lot of truth to it in our lit­tle cor­ner of the hot rod world. Much like clothes or house decor, it seems like if you hang onto some­thing long enough it will be be­come cool again. Dual-quad tun­nel-rams, ve­loc­ity stacks, IMSA-style road rac­ing flares, even straight-axles un­der gasser-raked mus­cle cars can be spot­ted at the lo­cal cruise-in. Trends re­peat. They can also be fresh and orig­i­nal. From walk­ing the halls at SEMA to our lo­cal Cars and Cof­fee events, here are a few trends I feel are worth men­tion­ing.


En­gine swaps are the foun­da­tion of hot rod­ding. In pro­duc­tion for over 21 years now, the LS en­gine is still over­whelm­ingly pop­u­lar with the en­gine swap crowd. Now with GM push­ing the new kid on the block—the di­rect in­jec­tion LT se­ries—one would think the clas­sic small­block Chevy has been dealt its death sen­tence once and for all. Thank­fully, that’s far from the truth. Our shop (Chris Hol­strom Con­cepts), which is known for LS con­ver­sions, has in­stalled sev­eral 383 crate en­gines with bolt-on EFI this past year. It’s a sim­ple pack­age that works amaz­ing with Vortec heads and saves thou­sands over the LS/LT op­tions. Also, you can’t beat the look of a clas­sic small-block.


Re­mem­ber the be­gin­ning of the 10.5 tire Street Car Shootout craze? That was a re­flec­tion of what was tak­ing place on the dark back­streets in the early ’90s. Flow­mas­ters, 3.5-inch front run­ners with sticky rear tires, and a bot­tle of VHT were all the rage. With Tesla cranked up on the mega-watt Alpine tape deck, pulling up to a stop­light took a deft touch to keep that solid-cammed big-block alive. Ex­tra points if you had the big Auto Me­ter tach with yel­low shift light screwed to the dash. Ahh, I can still smell the rac­ing fuel. I see this trend re­turn­ing strong and ex­e­cuted

on highly de­tailed mus­cle cars. Add EFI, in-tank fuel pumps, and mod­ern drag coilovers and you’ve got the in­gre­di­ents for a fun boule­vard bruiser. I know this style never left parts of the coun­try. That’s OK. If the car I de­scribed is sit­ting in your garage, con­sider your­self a trend­set­ter.


Speak­ing of trend set­ting, poor mag­a­zine edi­tors have been push­ing late-model (think post 1972) cars on us for years with­out much trac­tion. How do I know? I have a shop full of cars all built be­fore 1970. That’s about to change. Prices of re­stor­able ’60’s mus­cle cars are through the roof. The avail­abil­ity of pre­cious vin­tage tin is dry­ing up. The al­ter­na­tives are clean, drive­able ex­am­ples from the ’70s and ’80s, which can be bought for a song. Goodguys Hot Rod As­so­ci­a­tion re­cently lifted their 1972 year cut­off, al­low­ing a plat­form for two decades of prime hot rod ma­te­rial. Think Monte Carlo SS with 19-inch wheels and the full Pro Tour­ing pack­age com­plete with an LS swap. How about a Pro Stock Monza turned street car com­plete with gold Moroso valve cov­ers and dual carbs rum­bling through the fair­grounds? Craigslist is full of Camaro IROCs just wait­ing for a new lease on life. Don’t for­get the over­looked ’70’s Mal­ibu and El Camino mod­els. With just a lit­tle imag­i­na­tion you can build a car that is dif­fer­ent from the crowd and just might catch that mag­a­zine edi­tor’s eyes.


An­other trend I see play­ing out is the pop­u­lar­ity of mod­i­fy­ing late-model mus­cle. The fifth-gen Camaro is go­ing on eight years old. A quick search on Craigslist yielded sev­eral LS-pow­ered ex­am­ples for well un­der $20,000.

Be­ing out of war­ranty, th­ese cars are per­fect for guilt-free mod­i­fi­ca­tions and en­joy solid after­mar­ket sup­port.

Cur­rent color trends seem to be shy­ing away from bold graph­ics with an em­pha­sis on keep­ing things sub­tle. Blue is the hot color. Big wheels are here to stay but so are old­school wheels. Here is the thing with trends; re­gard­less of style, if it is ex­e­cuted cor­rectly you can’t lose.

Just sayin’.

Chris Hol­strom is the owner of Chris Hol­strom Con­cepts, a hot rod shop in Puyallup, Wash­ing­ton, that spe­cial­izes in re­pair­ing and build­ing high-qual­ity mus­cle cars and hot rods.

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