Have you ever gotten into an argument about hot rods with a person who doesn't care much about hot rods? Maybe early in life it was with your mother or girlfriend. Later on, it could be with your spouse, a coworker, or just a random tree hugger you meet at the company picnic. Whoever it is, they just don't get it. Why would you want to take apart a completely functioning car and do stuff to it? A car is supposed to be an appliance, right?! I once put my pops in the passenger seat of a Panoz race car with a pro driving instructor to take him full tilt for a few laps. I thought it would be an epiphany for him, but I don't think it made much of an impact. Hey, I tried!
My powers of persuasion are pretty useless when I go into hot rod mode with a "nonbeliever," if for no other reason than I sound alternately like a lunatic or an idiot as I try to explain the joy of lighting up the tires sideways on the highway onramp-or something equally stupid. Guys like us just like to tinker with junk to make it better, and then do silly, insane, fun stuff with it.
The cool thing about hot rodding is that the path to making something better can go in many directions. Some guys drag, other guys road race. Some like blowers, some like strokers. Some will even start riffing off the beaten path, combining different elements to suit their own dreams. It's only when you start improvising off the sheet of music that truly magical things start to happen!
In this issue we have Cherry Bomb's "Disturbing The Peace" '68 Camaro ("Total-Pro," p. 16). When you see it, your immediate knee-jerk reaction is "wow, that's a retro street machine!" A split second later you see the large-diameter wheels, the wider front rubber, and the big brakes. "Wait, that's Pro Touring. You can't do that and do retro!?" But the rear wheels are just large enough to give you the further impression that it could be Pro Street, too. Yet in spite of a retro look, it's thoroughly modern with a fuel-injected LSX, overdrive, and even a smartphone interface. It's a total mash-up. You could certainly be forgiven for thinking it's just too weird, but you'd be selling this car really short. I think the Cherry Bomb Camaro is one more evolutionary step in hot rodding. It looks outrageous, it carries the retro theme to another level, and it does absolutely everything you'd want a hot rod to do. In a sense, the YearOne crew not only modified a Camaro, they modified an entire styling lexicon.
Only time will tell if the Cherry Bomb Camaro will serve as the template for a new design language. I think once people get tired of seeing the same old stuff being done over and over, they start looking for a new synthesis-and this Camaro is that kind of riffage. "New and improved," as they say.
You'll notice that another thing we're tinkering with this month is the very magazine itself. The Cherry Bomb Camaro got an 8-71 blower and a six-speed overdrive trans, but the mag gets top-shelf paper and more articles. And just like you want your pride and joy to be the fastest thing on the road, we want Popular Hot Rodding to be the most kickass magazine on the newsstand. The new paper is not only thicker, it's whiter, meaning the cars will be more lifelike. It will be more durable, too.
It's not all cosmetics either. We'll be putting more horsepower underhood with more car features, more tech, and more interesting hot-button issues. We like to say that PHR is all about serious muscle cars, and we aim to do that even better. "New and improved," as they say!