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Old 03-26-2008, 05:28 PM   #1
drewerin
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custom cars vs. hot rods (lots of questions)

Hi, I know this is a stupid question, I hope you'll all bear with my ignorance.

what is the main difference between a hot rod and a custom car? would you consider custom cars an overriding, general name, and hot rod to be one type of custom car? would lowriders and monster cars/trucks, etc also be types of custom cars?

i know that you'll probably think 'why didn't this ignorant girl do some research before wasting our time?' i've been doing research, but there seem to be so many different opinions that i'm getting a bit overwhelmed.

many sites seem to say that custom cars are cars from the late 40's-50's or 60's have been customized with new bodywork, engines, etc, and hot rods are generally american cars from before around 48-49 that are customized specifically for speed for racing. but then i find that other sites say that hot rods can be made from any model, including any year outside of u.s. cars. so are hot rods just any customized car made for speed?

finally (sorry for the long post!), are there other main types of custom cars? what would you call the modern custom cars, like the cars from pimp my ride with tons of accessories--or would you not even include those?

again, so for the long post, i hope that someone can help break it down for me. maybe i'm overthinking this. but i do love looking at all the photos of people's cars and descriptions in this forum, thanks so much. (i'm writing a book for kids on the topic of custom cars, in case you're wondering why all the questions.)
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Old 03-26-2008, 08:41 PM   #2
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Well, the traditional answer is that hot rods are American cars customized for speed, and are older than 1949. Customs tend to be newer than 1949 and built more for looks. There are grey areas, of course, as the classic '30s and '40s taildraggers are customs, but built from hot rod era cars. And of course, there are customs that go fast. And, there are hot rods built from foreign cars, like Fiat Topolinos, Anglias, and the like.

The speed that is talked about when building for speed tends to be drag racing and land speed record cars. Road racing doesn't enter into the hot rod lexicon very much, at all, though there are guys that have built hot rods for road racing.

Drag race cars newer than 1949 often fall into the muscle car category. Though, even though the first muscle car was built in '55, the musclecar era didn't really get going until '64.

Then of course, there's the world of street rods, which are cars that look like hot rods, but built more to custom car standards, and are built more for style than speed.

Hot Rods:






Customs:







Street Rods:







Still, while the categories have been heavily blurred over the years, die hard fans of each genre will defend what is and what isn't part of that genre quite voiciferously. For example, traditional hot rodders will never EVER consider a drag racing Civic or late model Mustang to be a hot rod, even if it's built with the same frame of mind. It can all get very confusing, though if you stick with the traditional definitions and allow certain exceptions for grey area slop, you will probably be in good stead.
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Old 03-26-2008, 08:53 PM   #3
BavarianWheels
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Great answer, ChrisV.

I was going to say the exact same thing...with pics and all...
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Old 03-27-2008, 02:35 PM   #4
drewerin
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this is so helpful, thank you so much!
it really clears up a lot for me. the pictures are awesome.

thanks for the street rod info--i was wondering about those too but i didn't want to put in yet another question in my post.

thank you!
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Old 03-27-2008, 06:56 PM   #5
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You also mentioned modern customs. This is a harder gray area to define. Traditional customs were as I pictured, but the truth is that they were late model or even new cars at the time when the style started. Which makes modern customized cars really following along in the same path, even though the styles are vastly different. You will rarely get traditionalists to agree, however, that modern customized cars are "customs" even though they are customized. They have their own genres. Sport Compacts grew out of the lowrider and mini truck movements of the '70s and '80s, combined with the road race crowd of the '60s and '70s. Lowriders themselves have many sub-genres, from traditional lows (which are the '60-80s American cars with metalflake and candy paint, hydraulics, wire wheels, etc) and "bombs" which are dressed up cars of the 30s, 40s, and 50s, to "Euros" which are imports done in a combination of traditional lowrider style and the start of the sport compact movement (where ground effects and body kits started getting used on lowered import cars).

As you can see, all the genres are tied together and many overlap.

Lowrider "Bomb:"



Lowrider:



Lowrider "euro" (which is different than the "tuner" look)



And of course, out of the lowrider scene came the newest custom car fad, the Donk, which is a raised up late model car or musclecar on huge wheels.



These were done, as most custom cars are done, to stand out from the crowd. When lowriders and tuner cars became too common, and exotic sports cars were too common, customizers in Miami came up with this look. Tradtional lowriders, with custom raised suspension, powerful engines and teh largest wheels they could find. They are custom cars, as well, but they are not "Customs" in the traditional sense.
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Old 03-27-2008, 07:32 PM   #6
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Wow...Donks. News to me. I suppose this isn't much of a craze here in So. Cal. yet...or I live in the wrong neighborhood. A car scene never seen before.

Thx for enlightening me, Chris.
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Old 03-27-2008, 07:54 PM   #7
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that's crazy! i've never seen anything like that... i like the speakers in the trunk, too.
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Old 03-27-2008, 08:02 PM   #8
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They'll get to you. They are all over the Southeast, and moving up the east coast.



they are charicatures of custom cars. They need modified engines just to turn the wheels. There are actually three categories: Donks, boxes, and bubbles.

Donks are the most common, boxes are the boxy '80s Chevy/GM versions, and bubbles are the rounded '90s domestic cars. For example this is a "bubble"



But IIRC all fall under the generic term of Donk. Why? I don't know.
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