The term hot rod became popular in the 1940s. But the first examples — called gow jobs or soup-ups — were built during the depression by young enthusiasts, usually with little or no money, who were eager to tinker with what then was still a novel piece of machinery.
Many of those early hot rodders also wanted to show-up their wealthier cohorts; to prove to them that money wasn’t the only way to gain automotive status. So, despite its emphasis on power and performance, a hot rod has also always been a social statement, having to do with self-reliance, ingenuity and ultimately independence. It is this added emotional resonance that separates hot rods from mere home built racers, and gives them a deeper definition not addressed by dictionaries… read more >