Thursday, March 03, 2005

What does hot rodding look like?

Hot rodding's most boring conversation is regarding rat rod nomenclature. Big deal. Build what you like, love what you build and let them call it whatever they want. Hot rodding is no place for semiotics.

Factory muscle cars, rare options, low miles and perfect provenance have become big Barrett Jackson business. It is cool that the manufacturers were interested in stuffing big displacement engines in smaller cars but those sanitary museum pieces look like rich kids' cars. They are still rich kids' cars, the kids are just richer and older.

More than factory muscle cars, Hooptyrides is influenced by Roth, Hot Wheels, race cars and outrageous street manifestations of all of these. If Hot Wheels didn't have the redline chrome 5-spoke mag wheels, would we still be so crazy for the looks of Torque Thrust D, Ansen Slots and Hallibrands?

Check out Coop's 29 Ford. Classic 'Early Times' style - lots of chrome, full fendered, big and little mags, traditional grill frame, bar between headlights, louvered, not chopped, vinyl roof - just like they looked back in the 60s. Nothing looks fast and cool like bias ply cheater slicks. Straight from the pages of Car-Toons.

When I was in 5th grade, a 20 year old cholo rolled up and asked me if I knew where to find his sister. He was driving an early 70s Caprice Classic that had been painted Taco Bell beige with a brush and flat house paint. I wasn't able answer as I just kept staring at his car. I wanted to shout, 'Your car is painted with house paint!' or 'Do you realize your car is painted with house paint?!' or 'House paint!? What the hell did it look like before?'

For years afterwards, that Caprice Classic defined the DIY ethic and was the inspiration for my self-executed high school hair cuts. Sure, he would have liked to candy apple spray the Caprice, but he had a brush and a paint bucket. That's what I like best about Coop's car; he painted it with a brush and a can of Rust-Oleum. One morning you wake up and the car is three different colors. That night, you are cruising a black beauty. If you are fast enough, nobody is the wiser.