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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.