I’ve just completed my 10th “Long-Haul” on the Hot Rod Magazine Power Tour.  Each year I’ve gone on the tour, I keep my eyes open for developing trends in the hotrodding community. Just like clothing fashion, trends come and go, and sometimes come back again.  This year’s trip carried me and my crew about 2,700 miles across the USA, round trip.  At each venue, there were 3000-5000 cars in attendance.  Power Tour is pure visceral overload, we tour veterans don’t even make an attempt to see every car, each day.  The best you can hope for is to quickly scour the aisles, camera in hand, and spend more time gawking at the cars and trucks that really grab you.  Literally, you’ll see hundreds of different cars on each of the 7 days of this trip.  For any car enthusiast, the Power Tour should be a bucket list item for you to check off.

This year, I noticed one trend that I hope sticks around.  In the past, it seemed that certain paint colors were deemed “grandma” or “boring”, and those hues were eventually covered up by the typical hotrod colors, red, blue, or black.  Look across any car show row, and you are flooded by all the variations of red.  Many of those cars didn’t start out that way.  I noticed that more cool hotrods are coming out of the paint shop in their original colors.  The more obscure colors tended to grab my attention the most.  I also noticed plenty of original paint “patina” cars and trucks, which were also left in their original tame colors – much appreciated.  One color that I noticed making a strong comeback?  Green.  For decades, green was labelled as an unwanted color, and even hurt the resale value of classic cars.  My very first car, a 1969 Camaro, started life as a Frost Green car, later painted Rallye Green.  So, I tend to notice when owners are brave enough to step out of the red, blue, and black camp.


Being in the wheel industry myself, I usually award bonus points for those who have selected the proper rolling stock to compliment their vehicle.  Not everyone has an eye for matching wheels to vehicles and keeping themes consistent, and that was proven numerous times on Power Tour.  The wrong wheels or stance can absolutely kill the presentation of any vehicle, as these two items are even more important than paint.  Don’t just take my word for it, as my background of writing features for Super Chevy, Chevy High Performance, GM High Tech, and other magazines – I know what Editors seek, and what sells magazines.  Gladly, it seems we have trudged through the overplayed Torque-Thrust style phase of most car builds, and more people are learning that custom-tailored forged wheels can set their cars apart from the crowd.  Another noticeable trend, in the complete opposite direction of forged wheels, is the return to factory appearing “steelie” style wheels.  Some even going with the “poverty cap” or dog-dish lug covers.  I’m not talking about those who are simply driving restored looking cars, but more about those who drive customized cars and picked the stock-ish looking set of wheels.  This trend goes well with the resurgence of factory paint colors mentioned above.  I really dig the 18-20″ variations of the steelie wheels, on classic hotrods.


Big family cars from the 60-70s were strong in participation this year.  These floating 4-door sedans, as well as wagons, easily matched the musclecars in attendance.  I saw many cool examples of early ’60s cars from the Big-3, which still retain the sleek winged lines of their 2-door counterparts.  This trend has been increasing for the last few years, as our society has been exposed to some pretty fast 4-doors in recent decades, such as the Cadillac CTS-V and the Dodge Charger SRT-8 and Hellcat.  People are more receptive of the idea that 4-doors can be cool.

Now to discuss some trends that seemed to be going away, compared to previous years.  Whether for good or bad, sometimes just the trend becomes too popular and people always seek to try something else.  I’m certain that these will come back around, eventually.

-Flat black paint.  It used to be a real head turner, about 5 years ago.  Now we even see new cars getting the matte vinyl, and suddenly the infamous “Hot Rod Black” theme just seems overdone lately.  Mercedes Benz even offers a factory matte black on some of their luxury cars now.  There used to be hundreds of these on Power Tour, not so much any longer.

-Rat Rods.  I know that term is considered non-PC to some that drive the cars, but it still is the best way to describe them.  In the peak of their popularity, many of the cars seemed to try too hard to make the cars junky.  Like any trend, it just got overdone.  The original concept was to mimic the low-buck hotrod builds from the pre-war cars, examples of what hotrodders actually did.  Then somewhere along the way, a strange sadist influence jumped into the mix, cars with steel tractor seats, revolvers as shifter knobs, solid suspension points, broken glass, and other things entered.  They became more like art cars, not what hotrodders would actually build in the past.  I saw much fewer of these this year.  The “patina” rods have largely taken over that love for weathered classics.

-Torque-Thrust, Cragar, Coys wheels.  You know they were popular, but I think many of us finally realized that our generic 5-spokes looked too much like the 10 other cars parked nearby.  I noticed a lot fewer cars running these wheels, when it used to seem like 75% of them did.  I’ve owned them, and dig the style, but not on every single vehicle.  They became the “me too” wheel, too soon.  I know photographers that won’t even shoot photos of a car with these wheels on them, they are so bored of them now.  Funny how the steelie/stock looking wheels can get more attention than custom wheels, in this case.

Well, I hope you enjoyed my commentary.  If you have any comments, I’d love to hear them.