There’s a lot to like about vintage engines. Just the sheer fact that it isn’t a small-block Chevy is enough to inspire many hot rodders. Now, don’t get us wrong; the small-block Chevrolet is nothing less than awesome, but it is also the default engine of most hot rodders. Often, there is no thought involved as many rodders simply want the 350/350 treatment. That’s probably fine for most hot rodders, but there has been a real resurgence in putting vintage motors in vintage hot rods, and we love the concept. The Oldsmobile, Cadillac, Buick Nailhead and Hemi are all great candidates for powering a vintage hot rod. Parts are still available for most of these engines, some being tougher to find than others. A surprising amount of speed equipment survives for these engines, too, and companies like Offenhauser still produce a lot of vintage speed equipment.

Right Rod

If you attend car events in California, such as NHRA’s California Hot Rod Reunion in Bakersfield, the West Coast Kustoms show in Paso Robles or the L.A. Roadster Show in Pomona, you will notice that rat rods are a growing segment of the hot rod hobby. Years ago, when they started becoming a common sight at many of the shows, the mechanical aspects of most of the cars were scary at best. You could see cars with no springs, some without floorboards, and many constructed with less-than-­desirable stick welding. It is this type of construction that created the name “rat rod.” Fortunately, over the past few years there has been an attempt to upgrade the construction of rat rods, even though the enthusiasts want to use as many original parts as ­possible.

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