That’s one of the best cogent dates in automotive history. It apparent the actual aboriginal affair of HOT ROD magazine. Cars would never be the same. The ability would never be the same. The amusement would never be the same. The annual industry would never be the same. We don’t say any of that artlessly because we’re HOT ROD and we led the revolution. But afresh again, we did, all acknowledgment to the man who had the anticipation to accompany the annual to life: Robert E. Petersen.
And now actuality we are, 75 years later. If you’re cerebration there should be a book about HOT ROD’s history, you’re right—may we present the new HOT ROD Magazine: 75 Years by columnist Drew Hardin. It’s accessible on December 20, both online (including Amazon.com) and in bookstores. Anniversary affiliate of the clearly accountant book explores a altered decade of the magazine’s affection cars, customizers, builders, and abstruse milestones—including the aboriginal small-block Chevy and aboriginal LS, testing the Mystery Motor 427, and the Junkyard Jewel projects. The book additionally includes interviews with fable afterwards legend, and HOT ROD staffers as well. (Plus, a exordium accounting by David Freiburger.) It’s the absolute accumulating of advice on the history of HOT ROD magazine, to the tune of added than 200 pages and 300-plus black-and-white and blush photos.
The author’s name is apparently actual accustomed to you. Drew was the editor of HOT ROD for the April 1994-August 1996 issues (and abounding in as editor for David Freiburger in 2012), was the beat administrator for the November 1997-May 1998 issues, and has been a longtime contributor to the magazine. You may additionally apperceive him from helming HOT ROD Deluxe from 2013-2019.
He authored addition of our clearly accountant books, HOT ROD: All the Covers, appear in 2010. Who bigger to booty us on the agrarian adventure that is HOT ROD Magazine: 75 Years? He was advantageous abundant to get accomplished on the Petersen Publishing Annal beneath the adept himself, the backward Gray Baskerville.
It feels awkward for anyone on the HOT ROD aggregation to accept the spotlight animated bottomward on us, but we’re accomplishing it to Drew anyway, because he’s in the different position of accepting had his easily on accurate history. He’s stood in the centermost of the high-security annal amidst by artifacts and the body of every actuality who had annihilation to do with HOT ROD annual aback day one. There are long-forgotten items and yellowed affidavit and aboriginal memorabilia that alone his eyes accept apparent aural the time abridged that is the archive. And how does one adjudge what to put into a book about HOT ROD aback there’s artlessly so much? We asked him about that and abundant more.
Secrets Revealed: Smokey Yunick Wrote for HOT ROD
HOT ROD Magazine: Did you apprentice annihilation about HOT ROD annual that you didn’t already know?
Drew Hardin: Oh, so abounding things! Like the actuality that Smokey Yunick ghost-wrote tech belief for the annual in the 1960s. And that Mr. Petersen was all of 20 years old aback he and Robert Lindsay came up with the abstraction of the magazine. The bigger-picture things were about how important HOT ROD was to the automotive achievement industry in the magazine’s heyday, how aloof bottomward the magazine’s name opened so abounding doors to cabal advice that no one abroad in the car-mag apple could get. The Richard Petty cover, the Goodyear Blimp test, those awning belief of Detroit skunkworks engines in the 1960s, the actuality that Ford congenital a Cobra Jet Mustang for 1968, and that HOT ROD activated the actual aboriginal Camaro delivered to the West Coast—those all happened because of HOT ROD’s ability and influence. That continues to this day, by the way. There’s a new appellation in the industry: drag-and-drive. It was coined in the deathwatch of the success of Drag Week and its imitators.
HRM: This is the additional actual book you’ve authored that’s centered about HOT ROD and its history. What’s the bigger claiming aback ambidextrous with decades of material?
DH: There’s never abundant allowance to awning everything. And with this latest book, I was additionally faced with the sad actuality that so abounding of the magazine’s aboriginal and aboriginal agents accept anesthetized away, authoritative it absurd to get immediate recollections from them of what it was like to assignment there.
How the Book Came Calm
HRM: What was your action for addition out what to accommodate in HOT ROD Magazine: 75 Years?
DH: I actually paged through every affair of the annual starting from January ’48, attractive for important belief and trends and notable car and accident features. Activity through the issues gave me beat agreeable and photo targets. The additional big allotment of this action was hunting bottomward those photos. That appropriate spending hours in the annal at the Petersen Automotive Building in Los Angeles for images from the 1940s to the mid-1990s, afresh digging through the agenda annal housed at the magazine’s address for photos afterwards that, through to the present day. While all that was activity on, I conducted interviews with abounding accomplished and present HOT ROD editors, as able-bodied as some of the beat staff, and bodies who appeared in the annual and had a above access on it and automotive achievement history, like Don Garlits, Roy Brizio, and Chip Foose.
HOT ROD Magazine: The Aboriginal Affair
HRM: Did you accept a admired moment while putting this book together?
DH: Seeing a hand-drawn mockup of Vol. 1, No. 1 that was done in 1947. An aboriginal abstract of the magazine’s aboriginal beat was already typed in there—setting out its mission statement—plus pencil arrangement assuming area belief and ads would go. What a relic! I was additionally actual advantageous to allocution to Alex Xydias, aloof canicule afore his 100th birthday, for his recollections about Mr. Petersen, the magazine, and the achievement industry in general. I accessible and abutting the book with his thoughts, because they absolutely cut to the hunt in agreement of HOT ROD’s importance.
The Top-Secret HOT ROD Annal
HRM: Everyone apparently imagines the annal to attending a assertive way. Set the scene.
DH: The annal assets are now housed in the basement of the Petersen Automotive Museum. There’s no bouncer per se, but visitors charge approval to get to the basement, and the annal is kept abaft bound doors. Some areas of the annal are on the added ancillary of a chain-link fence from the apology shop, so it’s absorbing to apprehend what’s activity on in there while I’m working. Gloves are not binding except aback administration assertive archival artifacts. Parts of the annal accumulator areas are not able-bodied lit, so I usually accompany a headlamp. The aboriginal filing chiffonier purchased to abundance the aboriginal accumulation of negatives is still in use in the archive. It has been abutting by many, abounding others.
HRM: What absolutely has been archived?
DH: There’s a lot of analysis actual housed there, including Petersen Publishing Co. (PPC) magazines, non-PPC magazines, books, automotive columnist kits and brochures, and what can be actual important for my research, the adventure envelopes that were generated for anniversary commodity in a PPC annual aback issues were created afore things went digital. A adventure envelope may accommodate black-and-white prints fabricated to aftermath a assertive article, which can be accessible if the negatives are adamantine to find. There are pre-1955 adventure envelopes there, which are about the alone antecedent of pre-1955 images in the archive. Not every PPC mag’s envelopes are there, but the annal contains abounding years of HOT ROD, MotorTrend, and Car Craft.
HRM: How abounding photos are stored in there?
DH: I don’t anticipate anyone knows exactly. Estimates put it in the millions. Anyone can actualization and chase the agenda annal (archive.petersen.org), and images are accessible for sale. Added than 1 actor accept been digitized so far, and it’s an advancing program.
HOT ROD: The Lost Years
HRM: Is there annihilation HOT ROD that no one has been able to find?
DH: The iconic angel of Robert E. Petersen, his aback to the camera, photographing a auto on the dry lakes, alone exists because of abounding prints that were fabricated of the abrogating afore it went missing. Some negatives were pulled from their aboriginal drawers for use in magazines, books, one-shots, and so on, and not refiled. They’re acceptable in the annal somewhere, but it’s absurd now to apperceive where. Best of the aboriginal HOT ROD Power Tour photos are missing in that way. Gray Baskerville, as abundant as I admired him, aggregate endless celebrated images in his desk. I begin abounding of those black-and-white prints aloof a few months ago, buried in a random, bare book drawer in the museum. I accustomed his autography on the envelopes, so I knew this was his hoard.
Hot Rodding and HOT ROD Annual Now vs. Afresh
HRM: What’s your bigger takeaway on how the hot-rodding cosmos has afflicted over 75 years?
DH: On one level, it aloof astonishes me that bodies are active 1,000-hp cars on the street. We’ve appear a continued way from aerial valve conversions on four-bangers. Afresh again, admitting all the means it’s changed, hot-rodding hasn’t absolutely afflicted at its core. Those words in the actual aboriginal HOT ROD editorial, about “automobiles whose bodies and engines accept been rebuilt in the adventure for bigger achievement and appearance,” are as accurate today as they were then. Attending at electric vehicles; they’re affairs motors out of ashore Teslas to put into chase cars and architecture so abundant of what they charge because it isn’t accessible from the aftermarket—sound aloof like what hot-rodders were accomplishing in the 1930s and 1940s? Sure, today they’re application 3D printers and not afire gasoline, as against to what Vic Edelbrock Sr. and Ed Iskenderian and their aeon were accomplishing to go faster on the lakes, but the spirit charcoal the same.
HRM: Has HOT ROD annual afflicted in 75 years?
DH: On the macro level, it’s actual abundant the same, accoutrement the latest innovations in achievement and appearance. What’s changed—besides the capacity of what’s actuality covered—is the accent of the book product. It’s adamantine for a book anachronistic like me to admit, but now it’s the online stories, videos, and amusing media that will accumulate HOT ROD accordant to the abutting bearing of hot-rodders. That said, there are a lot of us who are animated that the powers-that-be absitively to accumulate the book adaptation of HOT ROD around.
Watch a Full Adventure of Roadkill! Cross Country in a Hemi-Swapped 1955 Chevy Gasser
On adventure 30 of Roadkill: 2,600 miles, 530 cubic inches, 700 horsepower, six speeds, 17 mpg, and two fun visits with some friends. David Freiburger and Mike Finnegan booty their Hemi-powered 1955 Chevy gasser about the block once, afresh hit the alley on a 2,600-mile adventure from Los Angeles to the 2014 HOT ROD Power Tour admission affair in Concord, North Carolina. On the way, there are breakdowns and two surprises: a stop at Midwest Artery Cars with Justin “Big Chief” Shearer and Shawn “Murder Nova” Ellington from Artery Outlaws, and addition with Rutledge Wood. Sign up for a chargeless balloon to MotorTrend and alpha watching every adventure of Roadkill today!
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