Hot Rodding 101: The Gospel According to Mr. Jalopy

This image was lost some time after publication.
This image was lost some time after publication.

On days when we're beset by car-business piffle (e.g., economies of scale, buildability, global priorities, emotional designs), Mr. Jalopy at Hooptyrides always grabs our lapels and pulls us back from the rim of the abyss. Sometimes all it takes is a well-constructed history lesson, followed by a an archeological journey in the hot-rodding tombs of Southern California. Like today.

Flush with the end of the war, the end of the depression and with a blue collar, union, skilled job, Los Angeles was an absolute paradise. GIs coming home to sweethearts and mothballed Fords. A brand new bungalow on a street that was an orange grove the year prior and a desert not long before that. With new skills learned during the war years, hot rodders came home with a plan and copious high tech surplus was waiting for them. New exotic materials and engineering skills meant hot rodding made great leaps in comparison to before the war. Since cars were not built during the war, severe latent demand meant new cars were purchased and broken down Fords were everywhere for a penny, nickel and dime. The sounds of scratchy AM radio broadcasts, threadbare rugs, tall dressers on skinny legs and the smell of orange blossom blowing through the window. A true paradise.

And the absolute epitome of that, the zenith of that moment, the absolute driving American spirit is all captured in the dry lakes hot rods. The resourcefulness, the community of hot rodders, the pushing the envelope, the ten things tried that didn't work out for every one that did, the outlaw spirit, the scrappy attitude and the fearlessness. It was so much more punk rock than punk rock ever was.


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