Trends We Spotted At The PPG Nationals In Columbus

The biggest shows always uncover the biggest trends in the hot-rodding world. It is always a pleasure to go to different areas of the country and see what things are hot in the those regions. When things are popular, they also tend to be expensive. That is, until the market is saturated, and supply becomes greater than the demand. We see this happen often, but there is generally a lag before the price starts to drop on surplus popular items.

Maybe it was the area, but it seemed that there were as many trucks as there was cars at the event. Just when you thought hot-rodding trucks was starting to slow down, something happens to let you know that they are here to stay.

In our latest stop at the Goodguys Columbus show, a few things stuck out as trends to our curious eyes. First and foremost, pickup trucks. Yes, hot-rodding pickups has been a very popular trend for years now. Remember when second-generation C10 trucks were give-away items? “Come pick it up and it’s yours.” We haven’t been there for 10-15 years. However, we saw so many trucks in the for sale corral that the supply certainly seemed to be over the tipping point.

It wouldn’t surprise us to start seeing the truck market split into segments with the hottest trends leaning toward the late-’70s/early-’80s Chevy trucks. Why? Because hot rodders have always worked with what was available and affordable. These trucks seem to be very available and still affordable enough to create some wild builds.

The latest movement in the truck trend is toward newer trucks. The '40s, '50s, and '60s trucks are still out there, but more late-model trucks are showing up in the for-sale corral and in the show lots.

Why Trucks?

Younger builders are really focusing on this era of trucks, because they are cheaper to buy, easy to work on, and parts are readily available. Manufacturers and car show promoters would be wise to pay attention to these builders. From rat rod trucks to high-end show trucks, there are plenty of them out there… and for good reason. They are cool.

VW Beetles are also back with a vengeance. This one combines two of the hottest trends: Bugs and trucks.

Speaking of working with what you have, we have to acknowlege VW Beatles. It may have been the area we were in, but it seems that we’ve been seeing a resurgence in the VW bugs of the 1970s. Builders are starting to do some amazing and wild builds with them. From big-block Chevy-equipped mid-engine builds to front-engine conversions. There was even a bug in the running for Street Machine of the Year at this year’s Columbus show.

This VW monster was in the running for Street Machine of the Year. Note the green color on the engine and interior. Green was another trend we spotted.

Remember this key when looking for your next project car: pick something affordable that is just old enough to be cool and different than everything else on the road, and still has parts availability through junkyards and auto parts stores. That will always be the next trend.

The finalists for the Street Rod of the Year show how fenders are coming back on the pre-war cars.

Fender Or No Fender?

As far as the traditional builds go, we saw nearly a 50/50 split between fenderless and fendered pre-war rods. We’ve been saying all year that it appeared to us that full-fendered cars are making a comeback. If you were to take a look at the cars that were in competition for the Street Rod of the Year as a microcosm of the street rod community, five cars had fenders and the other seven did not. That’s a pretty even split.

George Poteet’s fenderless Ford ended up winning the Street Rod of the Year award.

When it came time to select a winner for the Street Rod of the Year, George Poteet’s ultra-traditional rod with dirt track tires took the honors, which shows that conventional hot rods still reign supreme – but that may soon change.

Cruise ‘Em

Now that we’ve mentioned George Poteet, we can also mention the next trend that we are seeing more and more of: car owners that are driving their vehicles! Nothing botheres us more than seeing a great car and dreaming of driving it down the road, but when we get close enough to really examine the rod … it still had the vent spews on the tires. Those cars that had engines so clean that you doubted that they even had oil in them. It looks like there are less trailer queens as each day goes by – and that is a good thing.

Enthusiasts are driving their cars. From basic builds to top shelf projects, people want to be seen behind the wheel.

Green Is The New Red

Prior to Darryl Hollenbeck’s roadster winning the AMBR trophy, green was a color rarely seen at car shows on the best custom-built cars. Now however, it seems we are starting to see green show up everywhere. Maybe we are looking for the hue, or maybe we are just green with envy, but it seems that green is threatening to replace red as the everyman color. Lime Green with tons of metal flake is still around, but the cooler dark greens are starting to overtake the brilliant lighter greens.

Green is becoming a new favorite color for exterior and interiors. Photos watermarked Goodguys from

Blowers And Big-Blocks

Blowers have always been cool, and there is no replacement for displacement so the big-blocks have always been well represented at the shows. With the price of gas these days, people still admire a big-block, but avoid building their own. It’s still cool to see someone else put one together and drive it though … right? It’s almost a financial status symbol these days to have a monster big-block under the hood. Because of that, we are seeing more and more of these guzzlers show up at each show – and we like it.

Big-blocks, blowers, and gassers – sometimes all combined in a single build – continue to be very popular.

Age Creep

We used to look around at the shows and talk about the age range of the fans coming through the gates as an older crowd. The age of enthusiasts seemed to be creeping up with every show. That has seemingly changed, and younger fans are starting to show up in greater numbers. The new age creep is showing up in the age of the cars at the show. The ’30s, ’40s, and ’50s-era cars have migrated into more ’60s and ’70s models in recent years. Take a look around at the next car show you go to. There will be noticeably more early-’70’s muscle and younger enthusiasts.

The crowds seemed to be younger, with not a single scooter in sight.

We’re getting to the back-side of the 2017 carshow season with only a few major shows left on the schedule. We’ll keep our eyes open for the latest trends at those shows, and see if the ones that we presented here are consistent with the other regions. Please let us know where the winds of change are blowing in your area. We’re always interested in what’s hot in car building.

We are always interested in the latest trends you spot, from the VW beetle kit car builds to the modern Kustoms. Give us a shout if you see a movement taking place.

About the author

Bobby Kimbrough

Bobby grew up in the heart of Illinois, becoming an avid dirt track race fan which has developed into a life long passion. Taking a break from the Midwest dirt tracks to fight evil doers in the world, he completed a full 21 year career in the Marine Corps.
Read My Articles

Classic Street Rods in your Inbox

Build your own custom newsletter with the content you love from Rod Authority, directly to your inbox, absolutely FREE!

Free WordPress Themes

We will safeguard your e-mail and only send content you request.