That’s both the genesis and the foundation for the increasing quality and complexity in parts on the market. Love the increasingly wide selection of beautiful billet bits like wheels, valve covers, and drive assemblies? Before any of that can happen, someone has to design all aspects of the part on a computer followed by a well-trained technician creating the program and monitoring the CNC (computer numerically controlled) machining. Multiple levels of expertise are required to make an aesthetically pleasing, functional, and safe part, and it’s increasingly moving in-house rather than being outsourced. That means it’s a major growth section for anyone looking to get his foot in the door. But actually, that’s just brushing the surface of what’s coming for future hot rod parts development and production—more on that later. Increased competency is having definite repercussions on the cars that roll out.

3. Blurring of Genres

The imagination, metalwork, performance, and parts in pretty much anything that rolls out of today’s shops is literally light-years beyond what was possible, or conceivable more than a decade ago. Cars that might have taken “Best In Show” at a prestigious event in the past wouldn’t even be in the running today. Perfection is becoming the new standard; check out the gaps and perfect symmetry running from nose to interior on the ’69 Talladega Torino Rad Rides is building for George Poteet. And this is actually just a track car by their admission. When we say that the greatest hot rods and muscle cars ever built belong to this generation, we mean it.

To continually raise the bar and stand out among the masses of new shops also trying to gain recognition, builders have to use everything at their disposal to create cars that are along the lines of prewar coachbuilt classics. The parts and style may be different, but the goal is still the same: uncompromised quality. That’s led to increasingly blurry distinctions between genres. There was a time not long ago when you could point at a car and easily name its style of build, but it’s not always so easy when track cars are built like show cars and muscle cars are beginning to get street-roddish treatment.

So is the average guy going to be left in the dust? That’s not what we’re seeing; there’s a rising tide effect with the level of projects being created in enthusiasts’ garages often coming in on par, and occasionally better than what would have been considered magazine worthy not that long ago. We see it all the time at events like Goodguys; Bob Bertelsen’s ’72 TA that graced the Dec. ’10 cover is a prime example.

4. One-Off Cars = Custom Parts For You

Some manufacturers build cars to promote their parts or services, but traditionally hot rod builders focus on the cars themselves, designing and building one unique creation after another and sourcing or building components as they need them. In the past few years though, we’ve noticed top builders looking to capitalize on their hard work and make the plunge into manufacturing parts tied to their creations. It’s actually smart marketing; a big part of the success of any new part is strong promotion and creating the desire to buy, and there’s not much that does a better job than an incredible car that gets lots of media exposure.

The first time we remember really taking note of the ability to buy a distinct part off the shelf from a high-end hot rod was the Ringbrothers’ Reactor Mustang. Countless hours went into crafting a body kit unlike any Mustang ever built, and they thought ahead to make molds. Initially, it was just to save weeks of work should Reactor sustain damage, but the parts were eventually made available to the public. The full kit is still available on their website for those looking for the cure for the common Eleanor, though the slick new offering is the ’69-70 body kit from Ringbrothers’ ’70 SportsRoof known as Dragon. If you need a way to stand out among the swell of ’69-70 SportsRoofs, this is the ultimate answer.