Hot rods are a distinct category of car. Not quite muscle car, certainly not a sports car, they are a unique breed. They are often conglomerations of various parts and pieces from different years, models, and even manufacturers, but the result is always the same: killer looks and monstrous power.
A true hot rod will be impractical, perhaps even downright uncomfortable. But that's the whole point. It's building for style and power, without any consideration for practicality. Hot rods are all show, all go. Here are 10 of the most bad ass hot rods of all time:
10 Norm Grabowski's Kookie T
via: Mecum Auctions
The hot rod that started it all, this is perhaps the earliest example of what modern hot-rodding would become. Norm Grabowski cobbled together this dually-equipped, twin-supercharged monster in its original form in 1955, and had sold it to Jim Street by 1959 for about $3,000. Initially comprised of almost equal parts Ford Model A pickup, Model A Roadster, and Model T, this hot rod was powered by a supercharged 1952 Cadillac V-8. It was Street who later added the dual slicks, monster exhaust pipes, and twin superchargers.
9 ZZ Top Eliminator
The Eliminator has been featured on the cover of two ZZ Top albums and appeared in many of the band's music videos. Born from a steel-body 1933 Ford, ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons commissioned the custom chassis mods, paint job, and Z-shaped striping. With a Ford 9-inch rear end, Chevy 350 and Turbo 350 transmission, the Eliminator is built for road duty. It has seen action all across the country for more than 30 years, Gibbons himself taking it for a trip once from L.A. to New York. Now, the famous coupe resides in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio.
8 The French Connection
via: Kurt Ernst
The last build of famous designer Boyd Coddington, this was his swansong, completed by his shop while he was hospitalized before his death in 2008. Dubbed the French Connection, this beauty was ostensibly a 1938 Lincoln when auctioned off by Barrett-Jackson, but is truly hand-made and custom built from start to finish.
Full-length fenders swoop down over the tires, completely concealing any rubber, while the long black hood hides a 12.8 liter V-12, sitting confidently somewhere north of 800 horsepower.
7 Black Mack Firetruck
This 1943 Mack B firetruck may not be your average hot rod, but it definitely fits the category. Originally in service in North Riverside, Illinois, Black Mack was given the hot rod treatment by Precision Designs in Denver, Colorado. Precision stuffed a Dodge Viper V-10 under the hood, then squeezed 600 horsepower out of it. A 4-speed automatic from the SRT-10 truck was put in line behind to send power to the custom 24-inch wheels. And yes, it does burnouts.
via: Chip Foose
This copper-colored 1932 roadster-based hot rod is the work of famous designer Chip Foose. A supercharged LS1 V-8 is paired to a Tremec six-speed transmission, and of course, the power is transmitted to custom 17-inch front and 20-inch rear wheels designed by Foose himself.
Wilwood brakes and Pirelli tires give this beauty all the grip it needs, while custom suspension by Kugel Komponents keeps the ride as smooth as the fender flares.
5 Phil Cercone's '32 Coupe
via: Hot Rod
Cruising drive-ins, small-town parades, and classic car shows are where you'll find most hot rods, but this Mad Max-inspired roadster is made for mud. Phil Cercone took a decidedly uncommon approach when he began modifying this '32 Dodge Coupe. With a custom-built chassis and six-point roll cage, this mud-bogging hot rod is ready for action. The 37-inch Nitto rear tires are propelled by a Blueprint Engines-prepared 383 V-8 putting out 430 horsepower.
4 Hot Rod Limo
Hot rods are notoriously minimalist when it comes to creature comforts, but there's an exception to every rule. This tricked-out limousine puts the emphasis on 'show' with a full black leather interior and custom LED lighting. Up front, a Ford 460 is put on display between a couple of wire-spoked whitewalls. What better way to treat 10 of your closest friends to a night out than with burnouts in a limousine?
3 Lazareth LM 847
Quite possibly the fastest way to die, the Lazareth LM 847 is an impossibility-turned-reality. This street bike hot rod actually has four wheels and a custom suspension design allowing it to tilt at remarkable angles. The rider brave enough to sit atop this 470 horsepower Maserati engine will be thankful for the eight-piston calipers that put a stop to the madness. Shifting at speed won't be a worry, however, as this bike has a torque converter and only one speed: fast.
2 FJ 40 Land Cruiser
This right-hand drive 1975 Toytota Land Cruiser from South Africa is ready for the jungle. Using Toyota-original paint colors and VW headlights, it takes a little bit of everything to make this package work, including a 300 horsepower Lexus V-8 to put the spin on those BFG Mud Terrain tires. There's some wild country to be conquered in Africa, and this beautiful safari rig is just the vehicle for the job.
1 The Uncatchable
This hot rod is built for speed, as inland speed record. Owner Aaron Brown put his NASCAR skills to work in designing the mods for his 1939 Ford truck. Almost every part is NASCAR-spec, from the used 5.7 liter Ford Cup engine to the brand new four-speed transmission and 9-inch rear end. While there's circle track pedigree underneath, the car is built for straight line-speed and has already achieved 197 mph, which Brown hopes to top in the future.
Hot rods come in all shapes and sizes, from elegant limos to two-wheeled terror machines. As long as it's got some serious power, eye-catching good looks, and loud pipes, it fits the bill. There's something for everybody in the world of hot rods, and these are some of the most badass examples on the planet.