Book Review

Art of the Hot Rod; book review

Art of the Hot Rod


A few days ago I mentioned that I had the opportunity to quickly look over the new Motorbooks release, Art of the Hot Rod, and how impressed I was with it. I immediately knew I had to have my own copy.


I have now had mine for a couple of days and have just about worn it out already! It is better than I thought it would be at first glance. I find myself going back to it over and over again. I have purchased automotive coffee table books before with great excitement Typically; I look at them once; read a few words; scan some photos and put it away and likely never look at it again. That is definitely not a problem with this book.


The closest thing I can compare it to is when I was a teenager with raging hormones and saw my first copy of Playboy. I knew there were some very intriguing stories inside but I couldn’t stop looking at the pictures!


That is the same way I felt about Art of the Hot Rod. I always go to the photos. You could put this book out on your coffee table, open in up to almost any page, invite some none car folks over to your house and I can almost guarantee you that someone will pick it up and start talking about what they see. Photographer Peter Harholdt is an artist. The way you see these cars through his eyes is amazing. I will never look at a car at a car show the same way again. He taught me a new way to look at cars.


I finally did get around to reading the text. There are 20 of the biggest names in the hot rod industry profiled in the book. Included are: Bobby Alloway, Roy Brizio, Pete Chapouris, Dave Crouse, Zane Cullen, Rick Dore, Steve Frisbie, Richard Graves, Alan Johnson, the Kennedy brothers, Barry Lobeck, Donn Lowe, Jim Lowrey, Jr., Steve Moal, Don Orosco, Ken “Posies” Fenical, Keith Cornell and Ken Schmidt (Rolling Bones”) Dave Simard, Vern Tardel and Troy Trepanier.


Author, Ken Gross, must have had a once in a lifetime experience meeting all these hot rod legends. The stories about these Gods of Rods range from remembrances of the way it use to be and how some of the veterans got their starts, too their personal business philosophies, too their approach to design. There is something for everyone.


Some of these guys are 100 point restores for Pebble Beach and others are diehard street car builders; some are after the big prize trophies while others are after the simple smiles from owners after a ride in their rod.


If there is one complaint about this book it is that the builders’ stories go into great detail and wonderful descriptions of the cars that have been important to them in their careers. The stories are wonderful but there are no photos of the cars they describe. The photos of the cars in the book are wonderful but I was drooling over some of the design details described in the text by the builders but there were no reference photos to view.


This book is about the Art and the book has a wonderful continuity of photography and I can see why typical photos of long gone cars would not fit in. However, a reference appendix or small thumbnail photos within the text would have added more meaning to the interview without detracting from the Art of the photos.


Would I recommend this as a Christmas present or a Father’s Day gift for that special guy? Without reservation!

From what I have seen in the Art of the Hot Rod I will be standing in line for the Motorbooks sequel due next fall; Art of the Muscle Car!




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I grew up and lived in Iowa for a good portion of my life before moving to Southern California. After 20+ years we now live outside Nashville Tennessee. I have been into cars since I was old enough to remember. I don't have a brand loyalty although I do prefer American Muscle especially the 1969/1970 NASCAR Aero Cars. (Check out our other web site at site) As long as it has four wheels and an engine I get excited. Few men are lucky enough to be able to share their passion for cars with the woman they love. Fortunately, my wife, Katriana, is also a gear head and many of our activities revolve around the cars. We have a small collection that includes at least one car from each of the Big Three. It includes a Best of Show winner, a survivor, a driver with lots of patina and several others. Katrina prefers all original cars while I like to modify them so we have a few of each. When we aren't playing with cars we are out working with or showing our miniature donkeys. You can see more about that part of our lives at

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  1. Hello!
    I Was wondering if there is somewhere i could find more pictures of the car from the front page?
    Many thanks Dennis

  2. Best I can tell you is purchase the book. There are several great photos of it in there as well as many other terrific hot rods. It is a Roy Brizio build so you might also try a search for that or the owner who is John Mumford. It is a 1933 Ford Three-window Coupe.

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