RECREATING A PERIOD IN TIME.
The golden age of Hot Rod culture began in the early 1950s, peaked in the early 1960s, began to be supplanted by Muscle Car culture in the mid 1960s and was nostalgic by 1973. With that wave of nostalgia, Hollywood made three of the most enduring Hot Rod movies of all time. Let’s take a look.
3RD: THE CALIFORNIA KID (1974)
An ABC Wednesday night movie. Photo Courtesy of: TV Guide
This 1974 made for TV movie propelled its real star into fame. A 1934 Ford three window coupe called the California Kid. The car was owned and built by Pete Chapouris, half owner of Pete and Jake’s Hot Rod Parts, and was the real stand out in the movie. The car getting the starring role did more for the Street Rodding hobby than it did for any of the actors careers.
2ND: TWO LANE BLACKTOP (1971)
Even the movie poster was stark. Photo Courtesy of: IMDB
This oddity of 1970s cinema was stark in its portrayal of 2 gearheads making their way through life. The scene at the dive-in restaurant, where James Taylor tells the braggart to bring it on is an example of a line delivered so poorly, it is actually good. It is one of my all time favorite lines in any movie.
1ST: AMERICAN GRAFFITI (1973)
Iconic poster. Photo Courtesy of: IMDB
A little movie trivia. Two notable actors and one actress were introduced to audiences through George Lucas’s American Graffiti. Harrison Ford, Richard Dreyfuss and Suzanne Somers would use their appearances in AG to further their early careers. The movie tells the story of a group of teenagers and their antics on the last night in their hometown before High School graduation. It may not be cinema gold, but it is definitely Hot Rod car gold.
The above movies are the best examples of Hot Rod culture Hollywood has ever made. I have purposely stayed clear of the 1950s propaganda films. While those films were full of great Hot Rods, they were intended to scare audiences and were all fairly boring. Please keep in mind I’m talking about Hot Rods, not cars in general. What do you all think? Have I missed something? Did I get the order wrong? Is one of the above your favorite movie? Let us know in the comments! Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll make it 3 yards and we’ll have ourselves an automobile race!
Keep on Cruisin’!
Art by: Chris Breeden
About the Author
“Chris Breeden is a Social Media content creator for Custom & Hot Rod Life on DRIVETRIBE, YouTube and Facebook. After spending 5 years in Southern California, a.k.a. Hot Rod Heaven, while serving as a jet engine mechanic in the United States Marine Corps, he moved back home to Tennessee with an even greater love for Hot Rodded Vintage Tin. Since then he has worked in retail sales and the transportation and logistics industry. In 2018, seeing a gap in Hot Rod and Custom Car coverage on DRIVETRIBE, Chris began advocating for their inclusion on the platform. During the summer months, he can be found all over the Tennessee region covering car shows, meets, and cruise-ins. During the winter months, he can be found in the garage working on his custom 1949 Ford two-door sedan and 1954 F100 truck.”