Hot Rod

The All-American Hot Rod; The Cars. The Legends. The Passion.

A Book Review

Hot Rods, arguably started all this car crazy stuff and this Motorbooks creation edited by Michael Dregni is a collection of terrific stories told by the folks who were there. Almost every page of this car guy story book contains either a remarkable photo, outstanding hot rod art work or a vintage poster or even a speed shop advertisement from back in the day.

Reading this book is like sitting in the corner of a garage and listening to car guy heroes talk about their best car stories. Here are a couple of paragraphs from the Introduction.

Hot rods have made legends. They’ve been the ride of choice for James Dean and Edd “Kookie” Byrnes, Rick Nelson and Dick Dale, Bud Crayne and John Milner. The have also been at the heart of the development of rock’n’roll, inspiring countless love songs sung in their praise.”


“This, this book is a history told through numerous voices and images by people who were there making history. It’s raw and disorderly, humorous and raucous, simple and yet complex. The authors include an array of famous hot rod historians and authors, a renowned artist, a beloved novelist, and several ordinary folk who simply love hot rods and have a good yarn to tell. Photographs, paintings, and illustrations come from a variety of respected automotive photographers and artists as well as the archives of numerous hot rodders. It’s truly an all-American tale with an exhaust note heard ’round the world.”

One of the consistent truths that appear in this book is the fact that hot rods were daily drivers. To these enthusiasts the hot rods were not weekend warriors or cruise-in specials, these were daily drivers. Anyone who has tried to drive a highly modified car on a daily basis knows that there is no shortage of stories to be told!


The most common thread throughout all of the stories is the common theme of street racing and girls. One author even puts the birth of hot rods not on the West Coast but rather in the Appalachian Mountains. One of those highly modified moonshine running vehicles could easily have been the very first hot rods ever.


Chapter 1: Beginnings

Hot Rodding in the Days before Nostalgia by Allan Girdler

The Way it Was by Albert Drake

My Old Hot Rod by jay Carnine

Chapter 2: Legends

Icons by David Fetherston

The Patron Saints of Hot Rodding by Steve Hendrickson

10 That Counted by Pat Ganahl

Chapter 3: Velocity

From the Dry Lakes to the Salt by Don Pennington

My Memories of Bonneville Are All a Blur by Gale Banks

Dragging by Roy Newton

Chapter 4: Gow Jobs

Surf Rods by Pat Ganahl

Thunder and Lightning by Brad Bowling

Chapter 5: Delinquency

Bud Crayne, Boy Hot Rodder by Henry Gregor Felsen

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Hot Rodder by Robert Williams

True Confessions by Henry Highrise

Chapter 6: Cruising

The Saga of Screaming Mimi by Tom Benford

The Roadster Chronicles by Budd Davisson

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