Rat Rod: The Origins and History

For custom car enthusiasts everywhere, the evolution of the hot rod into the rat rod is essentially common knowledge, but it’s easy to forget the true origin story of this kind of car and the culture that’s broken away from the more generic hot rod. See our origins and history of the hot rod post for more detail on hot rods.

Rat Rod Style

Rat rods (see our rat rods for sale section for examples of rat rods) are generally styled more like the cars of the 40s, 50s and the early 60s but they’re not re-creation or restoration cars[1]. Rat rods are more customized, used mainly for show rather than racing and tend to have that edge to them that sets them apart from the more traditional hot rods. The best way to identify if you’ve got a rat rod is determined by the way it seems to have been thrown together. The ramshackle look is what defines the rat rod, and although the car looks like it might not work, I can assure you it does.

White rat rod

Similarly to street rods, rat rods are an off-shoot from the hot rod, the first true rat rod appeared in the early 90s when Robert Williams wanted to recreate the cars from his childhood. The term rat bike was already circulating and referred to a bike that had been put together on a budget. So when Williams rocked up in his modified 1932 Ford Roadster, Hot Rod editor Gray Baskerville dubbed the car a ‘rat rod’ and so the name stuck[2].


The Roadster, named Eights & Aces, fit the idea of a cheaply put-together car and others began to mimic his design style. The younger generation became once again involved as the custom car hobby became cheaper.

Rat Fink

The 1990s saw a shift in the design style of the rat rod when Steve Sellers built a 1950s Ford with an Ed Roth influence. The idea was to build a car that Rat Fink – Ed Roth’s cartoon character – would drive. The result? An insanely wild car that looked like pure fun to drive[3].

Sellers wasn’t the only person inspired by Rat Fink. Marky Izadardi and his brother Alex built the Purple People Eater[4]. Traditionally muscle car builders, and fans of the Pontiac, they started this build searching for a Pontiac engine that could be used in a hot rod.

The buzz around the Purple People Eater was crazy and it became the car that everyone was talking about. It was featured on the cover of Rod & Custom in 2001 and the fascination with rat rods exploded.

Modern Rat Rods

The modern style rat rods are somewhat different to the original influences and generally look more like rust buckets than their previous pristine ancestors[5]. Despite its popularity, the rat rod trend does receive its criticism and is often regarded as a cheap and talentless industry to be in[6]. But despite this many rat rods are built by master craftsmen with true skill in their field.








14/08/2016 / by / in ,

Hot Rod Cars: The History, Origins & Culture

Hot rods are a large part of the custom car scene (also see rat rods) and over the years they’ve increased in popularity to encompass the attitude, originality and creativity of custom car builders all over the world. As much as we may take them for granted, it’s easy to forget that there’s a hot rod culture and an origin story there somewhere.

Let’s face it, hot rods are about American as you can get. Sure, they’re a global obsession, but despite modifications, it will always belong to the American people. And I don’t say that just because of their style but how they encompass the innovative self-expression, rebellious attitude and proud freedom that represents the American spirit.

You won’t be surprised to learn that the hot rod car has evolved throughout the decades into what it is today and originally began as a great way to breathe new life into old bits of junk. The modern-day hot rod seems to have developed into a form of art that encompasses metalwork, sculpting and design both inside and out. See here for a full a-z of hot rod terminology.

What is a hot rod?

Generally speaking, the hot rod is a typical American classic that’s been done up and modified for speed[1]. The modern hot rod doesn’t always have speed in mind but is reminiscent of cars from the early 1900s. For some examples of hot rod cars, check out our Hot Rods For Sale section. Additionally, we have some free hot rod wallpapers to download.

To really understand the hot rod, we need to go right back to its origins in the 1930s.

1930: The beginning of something beautiful

The 1930s[2] was a difficult era for many Americans. The Great Depression[3] left a lot of people with very little money and buying a new car was just too expensive. So how do you solve this? Simple. Fix an old one.

Rescuing old cars and restoring them is kind of how it all began, but the restoration process wasn’t exactly genuine. Parts swapping was common and the resulting cars were mismatched Roadsters.

But swapping the engine for a V8 and amalgamating a bunch of other cars wasn’t the only purpose. The non-essential parts were stripped out to improve performance and before you knew it, there was an auto-racing culture evolving around these botch-job cars. As you can imagine, it was only a short step from there to larger improvements like lowering the front end and raising the rear end.

The dry lake beds of LA were a popular racing site and so speed became the top priority for customizations.[4]

Green hot rod car

1940s and the effects of the war

With the outbreak of World War II[5], hot rodding ground to a halt. But by the time 1946 came round, and the end of the war, the fighting men returned with a wealth of new mechanical skills the army had taught them and they were able to return to customizing cars like never before[6].

With a lot of military airports abandoned after the war, these become the very first dragstrips and hotrodders began to pit themselves against each other in a test of speed[7].

The Ford Model A and Model T became popular hotrodding choices for their lightweight frames and so a new era of street racing began. With driving-related injuries and deaths on the increase, this era was also responsible for the public association of juvenile delinquency and hot rods.

The 40s also saw an increase in hot rods as a large majority of car enthusiasts gradually found themselves involved in the fad of customization. Most hot rods on the streets were now being built from older cars that underwent body modifications[8].

1950s: The time for safer hot rods

In 1951[9], the National Hot Rod Association was created, racing moved from the streets and onto drag-strips.

During this time, the culture gradually fused with the new rock and roll style music which subsequently developed the modern rebellious and raucous personality that it’s associated with. By 1955, Hollywood was starting to see the new culture for what it was and featured it in the film Rebel Without a Cause.

At this point in the hot rod’s history the actual term ‘hot rod’ was used more often as a derogatory for cars that didn’t fit in[10].

1960s: The appearance of the muscle cars

The 60s saw the introduction of muscle cars[11] and shortly afterwards, Chrysler produced the hemi-engine. With the rise of the muscle car, it was no longer necessary to put a Cadillac engine in a Ford to make it go fast as there were performance cars available that could already do this. It was now easier to buy a car with ready-made performance – and an awful lot more space inside – than to build one yourself.

So the shift from speed to appearance began to take place during this era and a lot of hot rods were starting to appear in shows with eye-catching paintjobs[12].

Hot rod with flame decal

1970s: The shift from speed to appearance

The shift to appearance continued throughout the 70s[13] and hotrodders were starting to emphasize customized exteriors. Whilst this was happening, rat rods became a subsidiary focus in the custom car world with builders starting to create basic, stripped-down shells of old cars from the 20s, 30s and 40s.

The oil crisis in 1973 meant there was pressure from the public for the automotive industry to make cars more fuel efficient which restricted performance and so the hot rod was popular once again. The purpose behind these new hot rods was not to race, but to drive them on the streets, and so ‘street rods’ were brought into existent[14].

1980s and 1990s: The perseverance of the hot rod

[15]From being put together out of old scraps, to becoming a hobby, custom car building grew exponentially throughout the 80s and 90s. Hot rods became more than just cars, they were works of art.

2000s and modern day: The hot rod today

Hotrodding[16] has become such a global culture with owners pouring thousands of dollars into doing up their cars, designing them how they want and showcasing them at a wide range of events. But they’re a lot more than customizations, hot rods are known for containing some of the best automotive technology in the industry.

Modern day hot rods can be as time-consuming as a full-time job and there has been a whole industry dedicated to creating the ultimate ‘dream machines’. The hot rod culture is as strong as ever with its new breed of traditional hot rod builders, designers and artists dedicated to these ‘dream machines’[17]. But despite all this change, the hot rod culture still carries the same passion, dedication and imagination as it did in the 30s.

The global culture of the hot rod

The modern hotrodding culture is a global phenomenon, especially in America, Canada, the UK, Australia and Sweden[18] and has been subdivided into two main categories: the hot rodders and the street rodders[19].

Those building hot rods use a lot of original parts and stay true to styles that were popular in the 40s, 50s and 60s[20].

The street rods, however, are normally built with a majority of new parts and simply pay homage to the traditional roots of the hotrodding culture[21].

Hot rod racing

Ford’s flathead V8 came into being in 1932 but it wasn’t that popular in its early years. It wasn’t until later in the 30s when the V8 became a staple ingredient for the perfect hot rod.

The ideal place for trying out these new style hot rods was on the streets and these ‘speed contests’ often ended ugly. The move to the dry lakes wasn’t much of an improvement and the racing hotrodders descended into chaos[22].

The SCTA (Southern California Timing Association) was formed in 1937 and began to organize the racing scene with a more sophisticated timing system in place and racing became safer.

The history of modifications

The 1930s saw Harry Westergard customizing cars from his garage in Northern California. He would chop tops, lower suspensions, incorporate grilles, shave door handles and build custom hoods[23]. Westergard’s influence continued through his employee George Barris who moved to Southern California in the 40s and opened his own place[24].

The 30s also saw influencers such as Jimmy Summers, Roy Hagy and Carson Top. By the end of the decade, custom designers were lowering the body, adding glass-pack mufflers, removing trim, frenching headlights and rounding the corners of the doors, trunk and hood[25].

Integration became the choice of customized design in the 40s and 50s. Builders would integrate the fenders and tops into the body, remove the small trim pieces and create a simpler look in contrast to the mismatched style of the previous era.

As the popularity increased, the 1950s saw a different kind of customization. Cars were receiving baroque modifications with complex trim, canted headlights and scoops and vents appearing on the quarter panels and the hood.

The official car clubs

The National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) was one of many hot rod organizations established in the 50s and took the culture a step closer to respectability. Hot rodders gathering at night would often create a loud, raucous and rowdy scene. This caused concern for police and American citizens. The street racing was getting out of hand with drugs, injuries, deaths and law breaking all becoming embroiled in the stereotype that was forming[26].

As the culture of streets rods and drag racers separated from the general hot rod community, organized car clubs sprang up everywhere including the Pasadena Roadster Club and the LA Roadster Club. The main aim of these clubs was to bring together those who had similar interests and to create some form of ruling to help reshape the public opinion[27].

These car clubs did a lot more than bring people together, they created social and public events for car enthusiasts to enjoy. They began to host car shows where members could display their customized projects. Over time, the opinion of the general public changed as car show competitions and magazine coverage started to display the true craftsmanship behind customized cars[28].

TV and film appearances

I’ve already mentioned the 1955 film Rebel Without a Cause which featured the hot rod culture. Throughout the years there have been a number of films that have become firm favorites within the hotrodding community.

The 1973 American Graffiti by George Lucas is one of the top contenders for the most iconic film[29]. The 1977 film Smokey and the Bandit and Cannonball Run made in 1981 were both directed by Hal Needham and both pay tribute to the car culture, winning places in the hotrodders heart.

Daniel Petrie’s 1982 film Six Pack and HB Halicki’s original Gone in 60 Seconds are both films worth mentioning too[30]. Although not technically hot rod films, the Fast & Furious franchise[31] is perhaps one of the best-known film series that celebrates custom cars and has once again found a place for them in the international media.

In all honesty, there are simply just too many films to name them all and in their own way, they all create a hot rod culture legacy that lives through the years.

It’s easy to see how the hot rod has changed with each decade and each cultural shift but the enthusiasm and talent that surrounds the culture is one thing that hasn’t changed.

































11/08/2016 / by / in ,

Lowriders: The History, Origins & Culture Of Lowrider Cars

A lowrider is a car that’s been modified to sit low on its axle where the ground clearance is less than the original design. This is how Wikipedia[1] defines the lowrider, and in a very broad sense of the term, this is what lowriders are generally recognized as today. But there’s more to lowrider cars than being close to the ground. There’s a culture and a global phenomenon that has evolved around them. You can view a selection of lowriders in our Lowriders For Sale lowriders for sale section.

The origins of lowrider cars

The origins of the lowrider is something that’s a little more murky, and although numerous cultures and eras will claim the lowriders’ heritage, they all contribute in their own way to the culture that we know today.

It’s generally agreed that the origins can be traced back to the 50s and early 60s in South California[2]. Those that were part of the Mexican culture created the style known as the lowrider that played tribute to their pride of the Mexican American culture.

Although this may be what we consider as the official start of the lowrider culture, it could be attributed to the previous generations of hotrodding that became popular in the 20s. By the time the 40s came around, car enthusiasts were becoming bored and moving on to more customizing builds which included many of the features associated with the lowrider car.

In can be discussed that the 20s is the true origins of the lowrider as many Mexican immigrants in America were too poor to afford new cars. Ford had been producing more cars than ever since 1908 and so by the mid-20s the average number of cars increased from 1 per 7 people to 1 per 2.25[3]. Middle-class white Americans began to cast away their old vehicles in favor of newer, updated versions and this is the true beginning of the disposable, replaceable and upgradeable world we live in. This influx of cheap, second-hand cars meant that the Mexican immigrant families could now afford a vehicle of their own.

Blue Lowrider Car

With their large families, the cast-off cars would ride low to the ground from the sheer weight of the people inside. As you can imagine, over time, this became – for want of a better word – fashionable, and cars would be weighed down by sand bags[4] instead of people to keep that lowrider look[5].

It’s largely up to you which origin story you prefer, but there’s no doubting how far the lowrider has come today. Despite its Mexican origins, the lowrider has come leaps and bounds with professional hydraulic systems and other modern technology.

The assistant professor of American Studies at the University of Kansas is the best person to ask about the nature of the origins. Ben Chappell talks to Michael Arria from Motherboard[6] about his book: Lowrider Space: Aesthetics and Politics of Mexican American Custom Cars[7]. In the first part of the interview where they discuss the origins of the lowrider, Chappell talks about the mystery surrounding lowrider history and how certain aesthetics have become associated with the lowrider culture, irrelevant of where the lowrider came from.

If we fast forward a little to the 60s and 70s, the lowrider car became a class of its own and has, since then, remained as once of the most popular types of modified cars[8]. But there’s more to a lowrider than some lowered suspension so we’re going to take an in depth look at the different aspects of a lowrider, including the modern day culture that surrounds it.

What is a standard lowrider?

Other than Wikipedia’s very basic description of the lowrider, there’s more to the whole look than a lowered suspension. Stereotypically, the car itself is a Chevy Impala from the 60s, 70s or 80s. Other popular models include the Chevy Monte Carlo, Buick Regal, Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme and 60s Ford. But lowriders don’t always have to be a car, Chevy trucks and Chevy El Caminos are popular choices for building a lowrider truck[9].

We’ve mentioned the low suspension a number of times, but let’s take a look at some of the other features of a lowrider. More often than not, lowrider cars feature insane paint jobs that not only include bright colors but serious talent and a lot of detail. Pinstriping and multiple colors are common on a single car. Some will even take it further and use small metal flakes within the paint which reflect extra light and gives an overall appearance similar to a disco ball.

Interior modifications are common too, including luxury and/or eye-catching materials. Ultimately the interior is just as important as the exterior and so a lot of dedication can go into getting this right. Having said that, some cars will feature the latest gadgets whilst others will deliberately keep it simple so the focus is on the exterior.

A fairly standard modification is a powerful stereo system[10]. This becomes important at local gatherings when people want to dance – and since lowriders are shown off in some festival environments, partying is certainly popular.

Lowrider Car

A few additional characteristics can include custom wheels, narrow tires and a streamlined exterior, all of which work together to create the well-known lowrider-look[11].

What I love most about the lowrider is how it goes against the standard reasons behind customizing a car. Generally speaking, when you visit a car show, the cars customized have had their performance improved in some way, whether it’s an insane engine or a supercharger, it’s all about going fast. The lowrider takes a different approach. It’s all about being sleek, stylish and sexy[12].

How did the lowrider get to where it is today?

During the late 60s, the lowrider culture was beginning to reach its peak. Sonny Madrid, a San Jose College student, decided to piece together the very first lowrider magazine simply called Lowrider. It simply contained a mass collection of amazing, good quality lowrider pictures. After 1,000 printed copies, the magazine became a huge hit and by the late 70s, it was the most popular Chicano magazine in US history[13].

By the time the 80s came around, rap artists began featuring lowrider cars in their music videos which sparked their popularity with white American youths[14]. But unfortunately it’s not all happy stories. Lowriders were becoming more associated with gang crime and violence. Similarly to bikers being stereotyped as violent, lowriders received their own label[15]. It’s unclear where this image seems to have come from – perhaps the late night gatherings in parking lots, or violent behavior of Mexican gangs – but the modern day lowrider is far from the stereotype.

What’s real cost of a lowrider?

To answer this question we have to look at a range of contributing factors, including the modifications that most lowriders undergo.

The most common modification for a lowrider is the suspension. Generally an air suspension, the lowrider has its suspension springs replaced with a rubber bag that is connected to an air reservoir and an air compressor. The inflation and deflation of the rubber bag is what raises and lowers the car.

The popularity of these types of suspensions stems from the easy installation and the cost – something around $400 for a simple system. Whilst they provide the main feature of being able to raise and lower the car, air suspensions work really well in providing a smooth ride[16].

However, for those that invest more in their car, they’re likely to replace the somewhat simple air suspension for a hydraulic suspension. Instead of the rubber bag, the hydraulic suspension uses a hydraulic actuator attached to a compressor. The compressor injects the actuator with liquid at such force that it causes it to expand rapidly and push the components around it away – thus acting like a spring.

This is a much more costly way of ‘pimping my ride’ as each actuator system will normally need the power from multiple batteries and are generally quite complex systems. Each actuator can cost around $500 and you’ll need at least two – maybe four – per lowrider. That’s not to mention the cost of additional batteries and a very labor intensive installation process[17].

Chevrolet Impala Lowrider

Alongside the lowered suspension, lowrider cars experience a number of other modifications that I’ve already touched on briefly. Lowriders – as in the people – will often swap out their standard wheels for bigger ones which also shows off any custom metalwork that’s been done. With bigger wheels comes thinner tires as there is less space in the wheel well for standard rubber.

When it comes to looking at lowriders for sale, it can be difficult to determine what it is you’re looking for unless you have a specific idea in mind. Many enthusiasts enjoy doing the modifications themselves and can easily spend around $2,000 to $3,000 on one. But for those looking for a car that already has the modifications – and depending on the desirability of what you want – you could be paying in the region of $20,000. That’s a big difference[18].

Alongside all the modifications you made to a lowrider car, the sale value may not necessarily cover the costs. As with most custom car projects, the labor intensive and costly side of building isn’t always covered once the car is up for sale. As long as it’s a hobby and not an investment, it’s fine.

How to live with a lowrider

Unfortunately owning a lowrider is not enough to keep it in top condition, and because of their numerous modifications, a lowrider requires a special kind of care.

If you’ve installed an air suspension system then it’s important to regular check the rubber bags. They may be tough but that doesn’t mean they don’t leak. The more you use the car, the more you need to check. Whilst we’re talking about suspension, chances are your system uses hoses to raise and lower it which are notorious for leaking. Although hopping may look cool, it can be a rough ride for a lowrider and will take its toll on the car.

Lowering the car without installing adjustable suspension may mean you have a few issues with speed bumps and rough terrain. Without the correct clearance whilst driving, you can cause some pretty costly damage to the undercarriage.

When it comes to improving handling, a lowered vehicle is probably not going to make that much difference. Sure it lowers the center of gravity – which in theory should improve handling – there are other factors that contribute to a car’s handling such as anti-sway bars. But if that wasn’t enough, chances are the mileage on your lowrider isn’t all that great either. Modified suspensions equals more weight which equals a higher gas consumption.

For the lowrider enthusiasts who are in it for the culture, this probably doesn’t matter but if you are thinking of racing it, make sure you know what you’re doing.

The lowrider culture

As you’ve probably guessed form the lowrider origins, the culture that surrounds the lowrider is much more than a normal car ownership society. There are some important personal morals that are founded within this close-knot community. I’ve already briefly touched upon the importance of family and friends, in essence owning a lowrider is in itself a social medium. It will often involve hanging out to talk about cars, what’s going on and a way for people to stay communicated[19].

Chevy Lowrider

The widespread notion that lowrider culture is involved with gang-like behavior is just that, a notion. It’s an image that’s become associated with the car due to bad press, stereotyping and an overall misunderstanding of the culture.

These types of cars require a lot of motivation, money and dedication. You need to have a steady job in order to pay for the modifications, upgrades and repairs. It’s not just a case of picking one off the streets and keeping it running, there’s a lot more to it than that.

Famous appearances of lowriders

In 1974 NBC’s Chico and the Man featured a Chevy Impala named Gyspy Rose in the opening credits and the culture as a whole began appearing in a number of magazines including Rolling Stone, The New Yorker and Car and Driver[20].

In 1975, the band War released a single that pays tribute to the lowrider lifestyle as well as the car. It became a top-ten hit the same year and began to bring the lowrider culture into a more mainstream environment[21].

In 1979, the film Boulevard Nights created association of b culture and gangs which only further fueled the modern-day misconception[22][23][24].

The Modern-Day Lowrider

Despite their popularity throughout the years, these days it’s rare to see a large number of these cars on the roads. The political pressure of the 70s saw an increase in police enforcement which has taken its toll on the lowrider community. That doesn’t mean the culture is gone, in fact there are hundreds of events in cities across the US every year with over 200,000 attendees[25].

But the lowrider culture isn’t restricted to the US and can be found all over the world including throughout Japan and Europe where car enthusiasts will pay a lot of money for customized imports. Generally speaking, the lowrider cultures in these countries vary slightly and have developed and grown within the traditions of their own culture which gives each lowrider community its own style[26].

Owning, modifying and maintaining a lowrider is founded on a lot more than a love for cars and has a stronger heritage than most customized cars.

Quoted sources









[9] //


















13/07/2016 / by / in ,


This is Bumongous a 1950 Buick Sedanette that was build back in the 1990’s by Troy Trepanier. It was rated as one of the top 10 hot rods back in 1992 and also featured on the front page of Hot Rod magazine.

The car is fitted with a 510ci Big Block Chevy, Fuel Injection (with NOS) and the power is delivered to the road through a Turbo 400 automatic transmission. The smooth body is finished in Tangerine and Wineberry.

This piece of hot-rodding history was sold at a Barrett-Jackson auction for a hefty $34,650 which is understandable given the importance this car had in the 90s.

20/06/2016 / by / in ,

Donnie Wingo

Donnie Wingo

Donnie Wingo is a veteran journeyman crew chief who is currently employed at Wood Brothers Racing, working with Trevor Bayne, driver of the #21 Motorcraft car.  Born on the 13th of February, 1960 in the town of Spartanburg, South Carolina Donnie first started in NASCAR racing as a crew member and mechanic in 1978 working for independent car and team owner, Jimmy Means.  His first crew chief role came in 1989 when he started with Bud Moore Racing.  His first career Cup Series win was when he led Morgan Shepherd to victory at Atlanta Motor Speedway in 1990, this was followed by a further three victories with Geoffrey Bodine, twice in 1992 and once in 1993.  From about 1995 to 2002 Donnie worked for Travis Carter/Haas-Carter Motorsports working principally with drivers, Jimmy Spencer and Todd Bodine. The biggest break in his career came in 2003 when he was asked to be the crew chief to the rookie, Jamie McMurray at Chip Ganassi Racing for the Sprint Cup season. He guided the #42 team to five Top 5 and thirteen Top 10 finishes, one pole position and the team finished In thirteenth position in the final point standings. Jamie was awarded the Sprint Cup Raybestos 2002 “Rookie of the Year” honours. Encouraged by the results of 2003 the team entered 2004 with great enthusiasm and gained nine Top 5 and twenty three Top 10 finishes. The team earned a $1 million bonus after finishing eleventh in the point standings, making them the highest finishing team outside of the Chase for the Sprint Cup.  2005 saw another solid season for Donnie and Jamie when they recorded one pole, four Top 5 and ten Top 10 finishes. They were disappointed in their pursuit for a place in the Chase for the Sprint Cup when they found they were a few points short after the final qualifying race at Richmond International Raceway. The team finished twelfth in the final point standings, their consecutive third top 15 finish together.

Working with Casey Mears in the 2006 season proved to be one of Casey’s most successful seasons with Chip Ganassi Racing when Donnie led him to three Top 5 finishes, including a second place finish in the Daytona 500 and finishing fourteenth in the final point standings. Donnie continued with Chip Ganassi Racing throughout 2007 and 2008, working with Juan Pablo Montoya who he guided to win his first Sprint Cup victory and to earn the NASCAR 2007 “Rookie of the Year” honours and to work with Reed Sorrenson.  Jamie McMurray had left Chip Ganassi Racing two years previously to drive for Jack Roush at Roush Fenway Racing and two years later Donnie joined him at Roush Fenway Racing and it was hoped that the duo could work some of the magic they had in 2002 with Jamie hoping to gain another victory and, most importantly, to put Jamie into the position of a shot at the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup championship.  The duo started the season by dominating the final stages of the Budweiser Shootout but lost out to Kevin Harvick after losing the lead in the final lap.  Donnie and Jamie enjoyed a brilliant Speedweeks when they finished ninth in the Gatorade Duel.  They were doing well in the Daytona 500 until Jamie was involved in a big crash.

In November they won the AMP Energy 500 at Talladega Superspeedway and the team also earned their second restrictor-plate victory. Donnie, crew chief for the # 26 Roush Fenway Racing Ford driven by Jamie McMurray, was named the Wypall Wipers Crew Chief of the Race for NASCAR Sprint Cup Amp Energy 500 at Talladega Superspeedway.  The team finished the season with one win, five Top 10 and nineteen Top 20 finishes and were ranked twenty second in the final point standings.  At the end of the season the #26 team were released as Roush Fenway Racing had to cut down their teams to the NASCAR mandatory four.  Donnie was retained as crew chief of the #6 UPS team with driver, David Ragan.  The team failed to maximise their potential when at the end of the 2010 season they were ranked twenty fourth in the final point standings after achieving three Top 5 and seventeen Top 20 finishes. It was announced that Donnie would replace David Hyder as crew chief with the Wood Brothers team, working on the #21 Ford with rookie driver, Trevor Bayne for the 2011 season.  The season started brilliantly when Donnie was named as the WYPALL* Wipers Crew Chief of the Race following the 53rd running of the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway in February.  He was awarded this after pulling off an amazing feat in only his second career start.  He held off a late charge by Carl Edwards to take the chequered flag, giving the Wood Brothers their fifth Daytona 500 victory.  It seems that during the Gatorade Duel (a unique heat-race format that determines the starting order for the Daytona 500), David was involved in a last lap crash, damaging the car so badly that the team were forced to completely rebuild the car. Obviously they did a fantastic job, when the green flag fell David moved quickly from his starting position of thirty second to position himself in with the top ten drivers, ready to pull up to the lead of the field and the final green and white chequered flag finish.  “This ‘Cinderella story’ just shows what a leader Donnie really is,” said WYPALL Wipers crew chief representative and FOX/Speed analyst Jeff Hammond. “He showed up for Speedweeks ready to play with the big dogs and they did just that. Despite their setback in the duel, Donnie didn’t give up and led this team to victory with resiliency.”  Donnie lives in Mooresville, North  Carolina with his wife, Kim and two children, Erin and Coleman:


13/03/2012 / by / in ,

Lowrider Suspension

There are several options that are available to lowrider enthusiasts to achieve the desired ‘in the weeds’ look. These include dropped spindles, chopping the suspension springs, hydraulic systems and airbag systems. In the modern lowrider culture airbags or hydraulics are usually preferred over dropped spindles or chopped springs since the ride height is adjustable.

Airbag Suspension

The use of airbag technology is now the most common type of suspension modification due to its price and simplicity. A cheap system can cost about $400 to install leading up to about $1000 for a more advanced system.

To create an adjustable ride the coil springs are replaced with a rubber bag that is filled with air from a central reservoir which is filled using an air compressor. To raise the car the bags are inflated with air and to lower the car the bags are deflated. A simple system consists of a air-bags, a compressor, a reservoir and control unit.

It is important not to drive with the suspension completely lowered all the time as it can lead to premature failure of the airbag itself as the rubber will become fatigued. It is also probably dangerous and impractical due to the inability to move the wheels fully as they will be tucked up under the wheel-arches. Conversely riding with the suspension fully raised will lead to a very harsh ride and may cause cracking around the mounting points of the airbags.

While airbags give the ability to adjust the ride height it tends to be slower than its hydraulic counterpart.

Hydraulic Suspension

With a hydraulic installation it is possible to make the jump, bounce and hop due to the speed at which the ride height can be adjusted. In the air-bag system the suspension spring is replaced with a rubber bag that is filled with air in the hydraulic system however the spring is replaced with a bladder that is filled with fluid under immense pressure very quickly. This rapid expansion causes the car to lift very rapidly and depending upon the speed of the flow can cause the car to jump of the ground.

The pumps required to fill the bladders are very power-hungry and often require the lowrider having several batteries to make the system successful. The flow to each bladder, usually at each corner of the car, can be controlled independently using a solenoid valve that can be switched to give the appearance of dancing. In many cases it would be unsafe to be in the car whilst the car is moving so the switches for the solenoids are made externally accessible.

Installing a hydraulic system on a lowrider can be very expensive when compared to the airbag system.

07/10/2009 / by / in ,

Hot Rods: Roadsters, Coupes, Customs

When it comes to building your hot rod, you’re faced with choices for everything from which go-fast goodies to slap on your mill to what paint and other eye candy might define your rod more than anything else. And when it comes to a hot rod, parts aren’t just parts; it’s all in how they come together–either it works or it doesn’t. This new Motorbooks Idea Book covers every system of a traditional hot rod—be it roadster, coupe, or tub—illustrating with hundreds of color photos the various options for frame rails, suspension, steering, brakes, wheels and tires, drivetrain, electrics, cooling, body, interior, and paint. Looking through this book, you’ll be able to assess which choices fit your aesthetic sensibility as well as how they suit your plan to use your hot rod. You’ll also get the “big picture”–a clear idea of how some choices work together and others just don’t mesh in the same car. Whether you’re looking for inspiration or practical answers, this book will guide you from off-the-shelf, fabricated, and even found parts and pieces to the finished hot rod of your dreams.

Buy From Amazon
UK : Hot Rods (Idea Books)
US : Hot Rods: Roadsters, Coupes, Customs (Idea Book)

Just Customz Review

This is another great book from the Idea Book series following the same format as the others. The book has hundreds of high-quality photos with minimal text. The pictures are broken down into 4 main categories which are Body Types and Styles, Body Treatments, Interiors, Drivetrains and Paint and Graphics.

The first section on Body Types and Styles features lots of pictures of Roadsters, Convertibles, Phaetons, Coupes, Sedans, Woodies, Trucks and Cabriolets that have been modifed. The main category is broken down into several smaller sub-categories with some fantasic pictures providing anyone with lots of idea for their next big project.

All the subsequent sections are dealt with in a similar manner where the main category is broken down into several smaller sub-categories.

This book is a superb source of ideas and is one of those books you can just pick up and flick through when you have 5 minutes to spare and just feel inspired!

About the Author
Dain Gingerelli is a well-known automotive journalist whose work has appeared in magazines like Street Rodder, Rod & Custom, Old Skool Rodz and Motor Trends. He has written several books on hot rods for Motorbooks, inlcuding Ford Hot Rods, Hot Rod Milestones, and Hot Rod Roots. He lives in Mission Viejo, California.

18/09/2009 / by / in ,

Demon Bugs

For years, VW Bugs were simply cheap transportation: fuel efficient, easy to work on, a boon to young families and college students. Then something about the quirky little car caught the imagination of a generation, and the low-cost, utilitarian Bug was suddenly sporting a custom paint job and fancy wheels–and tricked-out engines.

This book provides a fantastic overview of customized Bugs. It shows the scene from which the demon bug emerged, and focuses on specific styles, from the mild to the wild. Cruisers and dragsters, sleepers and monsters–all are captured by Stephan Szantai’s unmatched photography.

Accompanying these remarkable pictures is the how and why of each cars build. Painted, re-equipped, modified to taste, these are the Bugs of a generations dreams, a most humble vehicle suddenly and magnificently transformed.

Buy From Amazon
Demon Bugs: VW Customs and Cruisers
US : Demon Bugs: VW Customs and Cruisers

Just Customz Review

Demon Bugs by Stephan Szantai is a great book that will appeal all the aircooled loving petrols heads out there. It consists of 11 chapters each dedicated to a particular genre of customisation of the much beloved Volkswagen Beetle and Camper. Each chapter has just the right ratio of pictures to text – the pictures are plentiful and the text is short and concise which just the right information.

The first chapter deals wih how the scene developed from the 1960’s to the present day. It is intersting to see many of the cars that adorned the pages of magazines like Rod & Custom and eventually, in 1975, Hot VWs – its a real blast from the past!

The next 10 chapters deal with each genre in turn from the Resto Customs with their subtle detailing and period parts through to the Monster Power bugs that are used for drag racing. Some of the monster power ‘dubs are capable of over 300 BHP and running low 10 and high 9 second ETs on the drag strip. The final chapter features a few select vehicles that have gone the extra mile where the attention to detail is phenominal and would probably be overlooked by most people. An example is in Darrell Baker’s 1958 Sunroof Beetle where the ribbing in the firewall follows the contour of the fan-housing.

About the Author
Stephan has always loved cars since he was a young boy living in France travelling in the back seat of his auntie’s Beetle. In 1979, at the age of 12, he started reading an obscure magazine featuring many hot-rods and custom cars. He eventually moved to Southern California where he hooked up with the local VW enthusiasts belonging to the high-performance VW club. It was around that time that he started writing freelance articles for various VW magazines. This book was born out of some of the pictures that he has collected through the years.

11/09/2009 / by / in ,

Custom Interiors Idea Book

Inside, its personal. The interior – perhaps more than any other aspect of a vehicle lends itself to customization, to the expression of a character, a desire, a conviction. The question is, how far to go? How different, how comfortable, how functional, how wild? Whatever the answer might be, this book will help you get there. With images of an incredible assortment of custom interiors from the ultimate in luxury to the totally high-tech, from race-inspired minimalism to retro hot rod styling, from suede to tuck n roll, inlaid wood to engine-turned metal–Automotive Custom Interiors gives you the means to make your dream interior a reality.

The book covers every aspect of design–seat and upholstery, dashboards and gauges, door panels and armrests, consoles, steering wheels, pedals, shifters, knobs and hardware, floor coverings and headliners, audio and high-tech accessories, and cargo areas and trunks. With hundreds of color photos and thorough descriptions of a wide variety of parts and accessories, this is the ultimate resource for anyone contemplating a custom interior.

Buy From Amazon
US : Automotive Custom Interiors (Idea Book)

Just Customz Review

If you are looking for inspiration for you latest creation then look no further! This book is packed with ideas and features over 650 colour photos spread across 160 pages. The text in this book is brief and to the point (its all about the pictures) and is broken down into the following chapters;

Custom Looks
Seats and Upholstery
Dashboards and Gauges
Door Panels
Floor Coverings and Headliners
Trunks and Cargo Areas
Audio and High-Tech Accessories
From Ideas to Reality

The full-length console acts as a central spine in the Jeep Trailhawk conceptThe book contains images from all genre of interiors such as tuck and roll, bare metal, traditional, race inspired and many more. The pictures from this book definately say more about the book that this text ever could so a few examples have been listed below.

Some Rockford Fosgate speakers mounted neatly into this LexusAbout The Author
Sue Elliot has been a writer and editor for automotive magazines and websites for 21 years now, covering the full range of hobby, from hot rods to new cars and restored cars to race cars.

Sue was the first female editor of a hands-on, how-to car magazine (High Performance Pontiac, back in 1990-92). She helped launch Muscle Mustangs & Fast Fords, Bracket Racing USA and Street Performance Compact magazines.

Since then, she has been the editor and editorial director of such publications as The Barrett-Jackson Experience (about collector car auctions), Overhaulin’: The Magazine (based on the popular Discovery Channel TV show) and

05/09/2009 / by / in ,

The cars of overhaulin’

Chip Foose and a team of customizers perform a complete automotive makeover, transforming a driveway junker into a work of art in double-time. This book documents a dozens cars that have been overhauled by Foose and the gang. It presents the behind-the-scenes for each car’s renovation. Each build is chronicled through design sketches, photos of the work in progress, and beauty shots of the finished creations.

Buy From Amazon
UK : The Cars of Overhaulin’ with Chip Foose
US : The Cars of Overhaulin’ with Chip Foose

Just Customz Review

This book is based on the television series Overhaulin which is presented by Chip Foose. Chip takes an active role in the rebuild and design or each project and his passion for cars is clear in the high-quality results. Overhaulin is always about the people that own the car and the story they have to tell and this book tries to combine both the story of the owner and the build of the project itself.

A typical example is when they visited WyoTech and stitched up Dale Eslinger by telling him that the auto shop had to be fumigated whilst stealing a recently donated 1956 Chevrolet Bel Air. They left Dale sweating with the police the team set about converting the 4 door car into a 2 door speedster. You can see the results after a week with Chip and his A-team in the photos below;

The finished 1956 Chevrolet Bel AirIf you are a fan of the Overhaulin series then you will like this book as it covers many of the cars from the first 3 series.

About The Author
Dain Gingerelli is a long-time automotive and motorcycle writer and photographer. Since the early 1970s Dain’s byline has graced numerous magazine mastheads including Street Rodder, American Rodder, Hot Bike, and IronWorks. His writing and photography have been featured in hundreds of magazine articles as well as books

01/09/2009 / by / in ,