The term 'hot rod' has been around for decades, but what does it really mean? Hot rods are classic American cars that have been modified for greater performance, often with an oversized engine. The term is believed to have originated from the lightweight two-door roadsters that were used as the basis for early hot rods. The idea of hot rodding began to gain notoriety in the 1930s, after the Great Depression. Hot rodders made an effort to change their reputation in the 70s, and today, hot rod culture is still alive and well with fans all over the world.
Hot rod communities are divided into specialized subcultures that will suit any taste, whether it's a street hot rod, a custom hot rod, or a vintage work. The first Hot Rod exhibition took place in Los Angeles at the National Guard Armory in January 1948; 10,000 people attended this famous event. A few years later, Parks went on to form the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA), and Petersen, building on the momentum of the mega-successful Hot Rod magazine, built a magazine publishing empire. Today, hot rodders continue to gather across the United States to showcase their latest custom creations at local car clubs and street rod community events.
Some of the major national auto shows include Detroit Autorama, America's Most Beautiful Roadster and Street Rod Nationals sponsored by the largest hot rod club in the United States, the National Street Rod Association. Hot rodding's popularity declined in the 1980s, although several “groups clandestine rebels” continued to defend the cause. Despite this decline in popularity, hot rods remain an iconic symbol of American creativity and ingenuity.