Hot rod culture and hot rodders in general come in all shapes and sizes, each with their own unique spin on the classic car and style of modifications they gravitate toward. These custom styles span the gamut from lowrider, to resto-mod, to street rod, rat rod, classic restoration, traditional, greaser – you name it and there is a style of build, and sometimes even a particular style of dress that accompanies each.

Each one of these specific styles carries their own unique following, genre, history and pride in creation, but no matter the style – these unique customs are something that can truly be shared and appreciated by all.


Luckily for us here at Rod Authority, we also get to cover them ALL! So we packed up our gear and hit the road to cover the sixteenth annual Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekend. Hosted at The Orleans in Las Vegas, Viva has become one of the nation’s largest gathering for kustom kulture, both sights and sounds combined. Bands, customs, pinups, all hosted in sin city – no wonder this show is chock full of win.

As a traditional rockabilly styled show, the promoters are quite serious about the requirements a custom vehicle must meet in order to enter the show. Posted on their website to avoid any confusion come show time, the rules are outlined as follows.

IMG_2181What Cars ARE Allowed:

  • 1963 and earlier
  • Stock classics
  • Painted cars
  • Finished cars
  • Un-Finished cars
  • Primered cars
  • Bare metal cars
  • Hot Rods
  • Customs
  • Show cars
  • Nostalgic race cars
  • Fibreglass (meeting above criteria)
  • Rat Rods (meeting above criteria)
  • Motorcycles (Pre-63, period correct)

Cars That Are NOT Allowed:

  • Fad T’s
  • Billet
  • High Tech Street Rods
  • Muscle cars
  • VW’s
  • Post-63 Low Riders
  • Japanese Cars
  • Fenderless cars w/ Steam Roller Tires
  • Tubbed
  • Off road and/or 4 wheel drive.
  • Diesel engined
  • No 20″ or larger wheels – no Dubs allowed.

The rules are laid out beforehand and strictly enforced, so if you’re a new visitor to this venue, please make sure that you read these first. These specific rules aren’t in place just to be prejudice against a certain style or type of build – rather the complete opposite.


These rules serve to keep the limited space chock full with the coolest pre ’63 rides from all over the country. This allows a more narrowed audience, style of car, and ultimately an atmosphere with like-minded individuals all gathered to enjoy the cars, music, and style that they prefer.

Customs, Rats, & Shiny Rods // Side By Side

That’s exactly what makes the Viva show so damn cool! Where else can you go and see a slammed custom chopped and dropped to the floor parked next to a cleverly sculpted rat rad full of ingenuity? And that very same “rat” parked right next to a gorgeously painted Merc. So even though there are some specific vehicle types NOT allowed at the show, there is still plenty of variety for all. Not very many custom car shows cater to all of these styles, rolled into one killer venue.


And for this very reason people come from near and far to experience all that the Viva Rockabilly Weekender has to offer. Travelers from as far as Sweeden, Germany, and Japan make this an annual destination year after year.


Engine selection scattered throughout Viva ranges from the simple and clean SBC with three deuces, period correct flatheads, blown hemis, and everything in between! Quite the sight - and left us drooling for hours conjuring up our next wild mill selection.

Not only did this year’s Viva show feature over 850 of the raddest customs from all over the southwest, cars came from as far as Tennessee, Florida, and North Carolina to experience a weekend they won’t soon forget. And with over 20,000 people in attendance and quite an eclectic mix of cultures and styles you would expect some pretty whacky characters to be out in full force – and you would be right! There was even a couple joining hands and hearts in marriage during the show thanks to Elvis and his iconic pink Cadillac.

Where else can you get married by Elvis next to his pink Cadillac with jive music and swing dancing all around? Yeah - pretty much nowhere.

Something For Everyone

Even though Viva (and Vegas in general) isn’t exactly “kid friendly” it is still easily enjoyed as a family destination for those families traveling with their little ones in tow. So there’s no need to book that babysitter if you like to hit the car shows as a family.


Besides, kids that grow up around hot rods, customs, music, tattoos, pinups and the like are easily more “culturally diverse” and will do much better in school AND in life (these claims are made up on the spot and should not be considered parenting advice) – just look how well we turned out!

IMG_2526Of course, even the kids in attendance rocked their very own custom cruisers done up to the nines with candy paint and white walls, some even matching their parent’s full-size versions. Seeing these bitchin’ wagons, strollers and the like that kids get to cruise around in nowadays has us feeling just a bit deprived in our childhoods of having to make do with regular ol’ boring radio flyers, but such is the case.

And there sure is nothing sweeter than a little girl wiped out from hanging out at the car show while rolling in her custom cruiser with Mom and Dad.

Ladies, Ladies, Ladies

While the cars are certainly the reason people flock from all over the country, there’s also a bit more eye candy that keeps these same guys coming back year after year. With the vintage style of both automobile and culture, many of the ladies in attendance get “dolled up” and add to the ambiance and sights of the weekend.


The classic style and beauty of the pre '63 iron is paired with vintage pinup style gals all weekend long for the ultimate combo.

Above and beyond the classic beauty of both the cars and the glas in attendance, the Viva show also brings together some of the world’s best artists, collections, and products in their giant vendor showcase. Everything from pinup style makeup and haircuts, to pinstripers and artist collections on display, the vendor showcase is truly a place to get lost for hours. Even our friends from Speedway Motors made the trip and brought out some more eye candy for all to enjoy!


But best of all, unlike throwing away all of that hard earned coin in the casinos – you actually get to go home with something to show for it if you make your purchases wisely.


As always, one of our favorite things to photograph was the cool ornamental badging throughout the show grounds.

We travel to shows across the country and lucky for us, Viva is still one of our annual stops and definitely a must attend! If you’ve never had the chance to expierence it for yourself make sure to mark your calendars for next year’s show on the weekend of April 17th, 2014 and visit Viva Las Vegas online for the insider event scoop.


We’ll leave you with one closing piece of advice that will do you wonders and will definitely help get you through the entire weekend safe and sound – pace yourself!


For more exclusive Rod Authority photos check out the GALLERY below: