Journey with me through the mists of time to 1992. Specifically the NSRA's (National Street Rod Association) Southern Nationals car show in Knoxville, Tennessee. A brand new product was on display at this show that would set the tone for the next decade of Hot Rod and Street Rod building. A vendor, called Juliano's, had created brand new shoulder and lap seat belts for use in Hot Rods and Street Rods. These neon colored seat belts would begin appearing in every car you'd come across during the summer of '92. I have no idea how long the company had been selling the seat belts, maybe the bright colors where new or maybe they had a new display, whatever the reason the belts ushered in a new wave of modernity to the Hot Rod / Street Rod world. Over the next 10 years cars would get increasingly modern in their looks.
A Model A Ford coupe, with '32 grill shell, sporting a new LT1 ('92-'97) Chevy engine. Photo from the mid 1990s.
The '90s were the era of no chrome or stainless trim. That's because modern cars of the time didn't have those features either. When Chevy introduced the new for 1992 LT1 engine, Rodders began putting them into their cars. Because it was pushing the envelope forward. New products were being introduced almost every week it seemed like. First came newly stamped patch panels followed by new instrument clusters that would fit in the original hole in your cars dash. Universal Heat/Defrost/AC units gave way to kits that were made specifically for your make, model and year of car.
One of the companies at the forefront of all of this new technology was the now North Carolina based Fatman Fabrications. Their slogan of "Hot Rod Innovators" summed up the environment that existed in the Rodding world at the time. New and innovative was the way forward and everyone was on board.
A Rat Rod. Photo by: Chris Breeden
In the early 2000's the arrival of Rat Rods stopped the forward progression of Rods. Rat Rodders rebelled against the new modern look, but mostly they disliked the Street Rod culture that had been evolving over the last twenty or so years. They began to build cars out of older parts that were cheaper and easy to find. From the Rat Rod world the idea of nostalgia spilled into the mainstream Hot and Street Rod world. Nostalgia has become the new modern look.
A "traditional" Hot Rod. Photo by: Chris Breeden
This look has been around now for almost 20 years. It's been a great ride, but it's time to let it go! It's time to step up and build exciting new Rods! It's time to leave the '50s and the '60s behind us. It's time to embrace the 21st century! It's time to go forward! LS engines have found their way into Rods, but it's time to think about going further than that. It's time for a '32 Coupe with a 400HP EcoBoost engine. It's time to gut a totaled Tesla and put it in a '48 Chevy two door sedan!
The Future of Hot Rodding, depends on it!
Keep on Cruisin'!
Art by: Chris Breeden
Thanks for reading!