The Age of Hot Rods

Essays on Rods, Custom Cars and Their Drivers from the 1950s to Today


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About the Book

A hot rod enthusiast and builder since the early 1950s, Albert “Bud” Drake has experienced rod and custom car culture to the fullest. This collection of his columns from Rod Action and Goodguys Gazette over the past quarter century, also incorporating several unpublished pieces, offers a wealth of historical information and insights. The colorful writing illuminates the people, machines, movies and cultural events that shaped hot rod culture.

About the Author(s)

The late Albert Drake was professor emeritus of English at Michigan State University. He wrote widely in automotive magazines and was the author of a dozen books. He lived in Portland, Oregon.

Bibliographic Details

Albert Drake

Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 207
Bibliographic Info: 91 photos, index
Copyright Date: 2008
pISBN: 978-0-7864-3404-6
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      vii
Introduction      1
Prologue: Watching Traffic      3

Roots: Exhaust Cutouts and Wire Wheels      5
1932 Lincoln      5
George Riley      7
Car Pooling      9
The War Effort      11
Street Scene, Los Angeles      13
Gordon M. Buehrig, 1904–1990      14
War Surplus      16
Roots      18
Growing Up      19
The Service Station      20
Ed Almquist      21
Hot Rod Citroën      23
Iron Mountain Meal      26

American Gothic: Hollywood Hubcaps and Duals      28
The Search for Truth      28
What’s in a Name Anyway?      29
Synesthesia      30
American Gothic      32
Old Customs Never Die      33
Henry Gregor Felsen      35
Let Us Now Praise Famous Men      37
Love of a Fine Car      39
Racing the Reaper      42
Simple      44
Yard Art      45
Small Wonders      46
Girls and Rods      47
Haney’s Hot Rod      49
Our ’40      51

The Fabulous Fifties: Chopped and Channeled      54
In the Garage      54
Luke the Drifter: Hot Rodders’ Troubadour      55
Oregon Original      57
The First Ticket      59
Traffic Court      62
The Minister’s Sons      65
The Original Fonz      67
Bonneville Speed Week, 1955      69
Summer 1955: A Sunday      74
1956: The First Portland Roadster Show      76
Cruising on a Vespa at Midcentury      78
Scooters on Campus      82
Records      83
Bud’s Beanee-Weenee      85
Class Angle      86
The Genuine Artificial Zebra Skin Interior      88
Odd Balls      90
Incident      91
The Mild Custom      93
X-51      94
The XM-800 Dream Car      99
Trophies      102

The Zen of Nostalgia: Reflections in a Bullnose Strip      104
Hot Rodding 101: Back to Basics      104
The Slo Poks Celebrate 50 Years      105
Stan Mott and the Cyclops Saga      107
Dave’s ’37      109
Celebrating the Low Buck and Beater      111
Thanks, Tex      113
The Pacific Gunsight Special      115
Mystery      116
A la Recherche du Temps Perdu      118
Hot Rodding Down Under      119
In Praise of Originality      122
Bruce Geisler and the Chipmunks      123
The Zen of Nostalgia      125
A Classic Memory      126
False Memory      127
The Glenn Johnson Coupe Revisited      129
Bridge to the Fifties      132
The Great Unwashed Deuce      139
James Dean Run      140
The Pan Draggers Reunion      142

Coming Home: Back to the Fifties      145
Coming Home      145
Les Amis de Route 66      146
Dale Moreau: Ace Photographer      149
The Amazing Story of Tad Winiecki’s Safercycle      152
CTA Reunion      154
Going, Going, Gone!      155
Mr. Motor Manners      157
The True Meaning of Christmas      159
Aussie Hot Rodder Finds Good Tin      161
Hot Rods as a Belief System      163
Old Dogs and New Tricks      164
The Suicidals Car Club      166
Wendover      168
Tyler’s Tales      170
Swap Meets      172
Road Angels Redux      175
The Outsiders      177
A Letter to a Young Hot Rodder      178
Hill Autotorium      179
Iggy      180
Living the Fabulous Fifties—Again!      182
Linda Vaughn: First Lady of Motorsports      184
My Brush with Greatness      186
Cruisin’ the Neighborhood      187
Cruising with the NW Speedsters      188
The Spirits of Hot Rodding      191
Sunraycers      192

Index      195

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “a wealth of historical information”—Cruzin’ Magazine
  • “offers a wealth of historical information and insights. The wonderful writing illuminates the people, machines, movies and cultural events that shaped hot rod culture”—Good Guys Gazette
  • “rich in detail…a very good addition…recommend[ed]”—SAH Journal
  • “think of this as candy for your car-nut soul”—Street Rodder
  • “Drake continues to interview ‘old timers’ with his dogged determination to collect and protect the history of the old car hobby. Get a copy for your home library today”—Street Scene Magazine
  • “something for everyone…authentic”—SpeedReaders