There are a TON of different ways to build a car.
You can build the same car in multiple different styles.
One car can sometimes mix and match from various styles. This can turn out good or bad depending on the builder.
This guide will tell you about all (that I could think of) different “styles” in which people around the world build up their cars.
Often these are regional since different cars were sold in different places around the world.
The first installment of car spotters guide to the galaxy will cover styles of cars that can be built off cars that were originally made between 1920 and ending about 1960. These dates are by no means concrete, but are to give you a general idea.
Restored – This is any type of car restored to stock. This can be applied to vintage cars (1930’s), muscle cars, old exotics or any other car. The process can become so intensive that the restorer will replicate the overspray and other mistakes that were present on many factory original cars from the era the car was new.
Traditional hot rods – These are recreations of hot rods in a style that would have been seen in a specific era. Early hot rods replaced original 4 cylinder engines with the newer and larger early V8’s and straight 6 and 8 cylinders. This style is often strict on using parts that were only available in the year they are trying to emulate. For example, a classic hot rod built in a 1930’s style could have used a flathead ford engine (introduced in 1932) but not a small block Chevrolet engine (introduced in 1955).
Rat rods – These are an evolution of Traditional hot rods. Rat Rods will use parts from any era. Often they can use large engines and different engines are appreciated here. The rule for rat rods is to stand out. They often reflect their owners. Diesel engines, turbochargers, wild exhaust systems, bomber seats and large shifters are the norm for rat rods. The interior of a rat rod has very few requirements. Comfort is definitely not a priority for most rat rods. Rat Rods are often art cars and they generally are not representative of real cars ever made in previous eras. Rat rods are often based on car bodies built between 1920 and 1950 but the rat rod style can be applied to any body style. Flat black and rust are 2 popular finishes for the bodies of rat rod vehicles. .To the untrained eye rat rods can appear to be traditional rods, but if you look closer and can identify newer parts or generally “rough” appearance or any parts that were not available between 1930 and 1960 you probably have a rat rod.
Street rods – Street Rods are generally build on cars made between 1920 and 1950. They are sometimes called Billet rods. Billet refers to a part that has been machined from a large piece of aluminum. For street rods billet can be used for rims, shifters and any smaller parts on the engine. Billet parts were not extremely popular until the 1980’s and later. Billet is often frowned upon by traditional hot rod purists. These cars are often nicely restored. They have nice paint jobs, nice interiors and clean suspensions. These cars have lately become somewhat less popular as rat rods have risen in popularity in the last few years.
Custom – Customs are cars that were modified for looks rather than speed. Often these are based on bars built from the 1940’s to 1960’s. These cars are often long and low. Coils were cut or heated to lower these cars originally. These days, cars can often use air bags to give the car a low stance but all it to be raised to a comfortable and safe height for driving. These cars often have nice finished interiors and lots of chrome on the engine.
Gasser – Often streetcar styles are based on race cars. Gassers are one of those styles. A gasser is based off drag racing technology and classes that started in the 1950’s and continued through the 1970’s. These were generally based on cars built between the 1930’s-1960’s and were usually American 2 door cars. The front of a gasser is lifted and usually rides on a straight axle. Slicks are an important part of the drag racing vibe also. Gassers sit high in the front. The stance was for better weight transfer to launch the drag car off the line.
I hope you enjoyed the first installment of car spotters guide to the galaxy. Stay tuned for future posts that show you how to identify various styles of muscle cars, trucks, imports and more!