When there were far fewer people around, far fewer laws and regulations, when the legal speed limit was 75 mph, when gas was cheap, when driving was a pleasure, if you owned a hot machine you could point the grill down an empty road and go!

Rod or Custom?

The line between hot rods and customs was often blurred in the 1950s. An example was this 1937 Ford coupe I bought on July 1, 1953 for only $45.00. It was a nice, tight original car that had been primered, with a chrome after-market grill, 6" shackles in the back and the sweetest-sounding dual pipes. I added the wheel covers, which did not match, and painted the tires white. Although there is a cowl antenna in the photo, the car did not have a radio. I can't recall that it even had a heater.

The engine was stock, but it must have been one of those exceptional engines that came off the line. It was 16 years old but tight as a drum. It would quickly wind up to 45 in low gear, chirp the tires when I shifted to second, and easily run up to 70 in second. It won some (illegal) drag races.

So, was it a hot rod? A custom? Or, like so many others on the road in those days, simply a dolled-up car.
Copyright 2008, Albert Drake and Flat Out Press.

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