♦ In the early days of hot rodding, say the ’30s and ’40s, it was all about building and driving, although frequency trumped mileage. Then came the late ’60s and the ’70s and the parts explosion was on; then came more building and more driving with cruising cross-country on everyone’s mind. Now it was about distance … “Where did you drive your hot rod this summer?” It was the question to be answered on all rodders' minds. a remember and Nats Winston-Salem, hot For it South, rod starters, was of my to then any the I first can distance North NSRA held drive in in Carolina. Ewing the Long and Distance The I even late Jim garnered Award
(still garage) proudly as we hangs started in in my Fresno, California, and then swung through SoCal and on our way to all-points south and east. We did this in his well-hammered '34 Ford coupe.
I can vividly remember SEMA time (November) talking with hot rodders from all over the country about where we would be driving come summer. All of us were looking forward to all the places we would drive, whether it was to the NSRA Nats in the Northwest or to the Nationals themselves, Memphis, Tulsa, Minneapolis-St. Paul, and the list goes on. To me driving is the end game. other John Instruments, of Tucker Inc., Bowler I Advanced found and McLeod day Transmissions, of Mark myself speaking Detroit Plating, Steve of Bowler Classic the Speed Tracy with Kyle of and each interesting about of driving them observations had frequency some and been distance my contention travelled. that It’s during or so rodders the past have 10 years taken to driving less frequently and less mileage. There are probably any number of reasons, such as price of gas, traveling expenses, and the list goes on, as to why this phenomenon occurs. But I believe I am about to change my tune. Take a close look at the photo accompanying this editorial … it registers 4,685.7 miles on the odometer. That’s nearly 5,000 miles I have placed on my '72 Suburban in the last five weeks. (The mileage accumulation is the result of the frequency and duration of my trips from the magazines’ home in SoCal to
Hot Rods by Dean in Phoenix while following the build of our current Road Tour pickup.) My “normal” hot rod, my '29 Ford highboy roadster, still isn’t driven as much as I would like … just twice in the past two months, and both were short jaunts. I’m thinking I should really limber it up and take a cross-country drive; anyone up for it?
It was McLeod who first felt that rodders are driving more and more as of late. It’s his opinion that “the pioneers in our industry started these tours and others have followed. A lot of folks have figured how much fun driving them is and now more are using their hot rods.” Given how many speedometers/ odometers Classic Instruments has sold I’m guessing McLeod may be onto something.
Tucker has an interesting perspective as a company that makes suspensions and related components. “I see rodders driving more often and for longer distances. They expect everything they have in their modern driver. They tend to drive the cars as much as they can now as opposed to only car shows or cruises. We spend more time focusing on ride quality and quiet cars now.” Wow, that pretty much sums it up
… if the hot rod rides and drives well the odds are you will use the car more often and drive greater distances. And this leads right into our next industry voice.
Next up was Bowler who has a different but equally as valid perspective. “We have seen a large transition into modern overdrive transmissions and people looking for dependable options to drive their hot rods. The tours have really helped get people motivated to drive more.” Again, I would have to agree with him as I look at the growing popularity of our Road Tour program and other events like the Hot Rod Power Tour.
Lastly I listened to what Tracy had to say from the “keep ’em shiny crowd.” Tracy has figured out how to travel in style and comfort with his '40 Cadillac that’s LS powered matched to a 4L60E. “These LS motors are just incredible matched up to a 4L60E tranny. My '40 Cadillac manages 22 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway. Also, all of the current tours are just a great way to get in and drive them.”
Let’s have fun with cars.
Brian Brennan Network Director/Editor