With Ken Gross, Larry Hook, Jeff Goldstein & Ross Myers
Beginning at the dry lakes in California in the 1930’s hot-rodding quickly spread cross-country in the 1950s via Hot Rod Magazine and other publications. East Coast rods had a distinctive look. Because their cars weren’t raced at the lakes, right coast rodders often opted for closed cars, and they could perform many streamlining alterations without being moved up in competition classes. East Coast guys wanted roadsters, but given the region’s severe winters, closed coupes and sedans were more practical. Channeling a car (cutting out the floorboards and lowering the body down over the frame) was cheaper and more expedient than chopping tops and frame Zee-ing. Two handy kids with an acetylene torch and high school shop class skills could channel an old Ford in a weekend. Hoods were optional, no matter the weather. Plenty of speed equipment existed for the ubiquitous Ford/Mercury flathead and the advent of big-displacement overhead-valve V-8’s from GM, Ford, and Chrysler, meant they were soon available in local wrecking yards. By the mid-‘50s, Chevy’s torrid small-block V-8 ensured the solution for more speed was very affordable. The East Coast even had its own hot rod magazines like Rodding and Re-styling and Rod Builder & Customizer. The mid-‘50s, aka the “Happy Days,” was the peak, a time later memorialized in the classic George Lucas film, “American Graffiti.” East Coast rodding had its own heroes, traditions, car clubs, and characters.