Hot Rod

Hot Rod April 2021

Start running with HOT ROD - the biggest, baddest, car-guy magazine in the business! We bring you the broadest performance car coverage you'll find anywhere. From one end of the smoking¹ rubber road to the other. Barn finds, hot rods, rat rods, race cars, home-built super cars, land speed racers, the latest Detroit iron, and classic muscle - if it¹s hitting the streets, you¹ll read about it here first!

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4 min
etymology, definitions, labels

Roadkill@davidfreiburger I’ve finally embraced my midlife role as the curmudgeonly gearhead who complains about how the kids these days just don’t get it. I started out as one of those kids, then was fortunate to live under the tutelage of the likes of Wally Parks, Gray Baskerville, Pat Ganahl, Jeff Smith, and beyond. Many of my mentors continue to school me—some even from the grave as their written word survives. Yet now it’s my time to perhaps ameliorate these whippersnappers. Recently, I was triggered when I discovered that the definition of Pro Street has been lost to time. More on that in a moment, first let’s discuss the labels. On one hand, guys like me who want definitions and clarity are a nuisance to those who say, “car building can’t be boxed…

10 min
shifting gears

Automatic transmissions have come a long way from the non-overdrive, slow-shifting slushboxes of the past. And while we can appreciate how good they are, many of us still prefer a manual transmission. Why? Why do we desperately cling to what some call antiquated? For the same reason Porsche dropped manual transmissions and then brought them back for many of their performance models, performance enthusiasts generally think manual transmissions are more fun. Automatics are great for the daily driver, or even a cruiser, but for high-performance driving, off track or on, nothing beats the feeling of rowing gears and trying to nail that perfect heel-toe downshift. With a manual transmission you become more integrated with the car. And we don’t care if you show us data that a modern automatic can…

5 min
reborn to a higher power

Plymouth decisively shed the Barracuda’s economy car roots with the introduction of the nameplate’s third generation in 1970. The completely redesigned car was built on the sportier E-body platform, and its crisp lines, high haunches, and stunning proportions combined to give the new model a beautifully aggressive stance. Though buyers could still configure a Barracuda for low initial cost by sticking with the base 198ci six-cylinder engine and few options, those with deeper pockets could also go to the other extremes, with a luxury-laden grand tourer or fire-breathing performer. Power-hungry enthusiasts could pony up for the Six Barrel 440 or 426 Hemi-powered ’Cudas, but those interested in more balanced performance had another choice: the now legendary AAR ’Cuda. In a six-week window, from March 11th through April 20th of 1970, Plymouth built…

9 min
outrageous malaise

Chrysler has always been clever with the branding of their performance vehicles. You’re likely familiar with the Hellcat and the Demon as examples that stir the soul. If you’re into old-school Mopar iron, you have the Superbird, Road Runner, Super Bee, and Rampage as examples from the era. Yeah… we couldn’t resist putting that last one in there to see if you were paying attention. By definition, the word “rampage” describes violent or excited behavior that is reckless, uncontrolled, or destructive. Originally powered by a 2.2-liter inline-four rated at 97 hp spinning the front wheels, the last thing that Dodge’s mid ’80s mini pickup ever managed to do was excite anyone to the point of violence. Taking any Mopar from the malaise era and doing something meaningful with it requires an…

3 min
big power small-block

When Steve Brule and the crew at Westech Performance Group aren’t busy knocking out fresh episodes of Engine Masters, they spend their time testing out myriad different engines on their pair of Superflow 902 engine dynos. This time around, it’s a stroker small-block Chevy that was tested and tuned prior to being stuffed between the fenders of a 1970 Chevy Nova. While it’s a small-block, stroking the engine out to 416 inches and using top-shelf parts helped give this small-block some big-block power numbers. One of the key components used was this pair of high-flowing AFR 210 (65 cc) cylinder heads. Let’s take a more detailed look at the recipe used to make 644 hp from a small-block Chevy. Sources Air Flow Research (AFR); 661.257.8124; Edelbrock; 800.416.8628; Holley; 866.464.6553; MSD Ignition; 888.258.3835; Nitrous…

3 min
birth of a legend: the 1974 penske iroc camaro

“There were no regulations for us to follow—we made up our own rules.” That was Jay Signori, Roger Penske’s project foreman, talking to Car Craft magazine’s Rick Voegelin about the birth of the original IROC Camaro in 1974. A full 10 years before Chevrolet introduced a production version, Penske’s shop, with assistance from Mark Donohue, was tasked with building race Camaros for the second International Race of Champions (IROC) season. In its first year, the IROC series used a fleet of identically prepared Porsche Carreras to test the driving skill of a multinational group of racers from various competition disciplines. While the series was a hit, and Donohue its inaugural champion, the Porsches proved expensive to maintain. As a more cost-effective alternative (and more relatable, at least to American racing fans), a…