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Hot Rods Down Under


Show Rods



Show Cars

The 1960s saw the pinnacle of one of America's most unusual native art forms. Flowing streamlined designs, radiant colors, and amazing craftsmanship blended together to develop a new concept - Show Cars.

Show cars evolved from the custom car, which was basically a modified version of an existing vehicle. Early pioneers of auto customizing in the 1950's began changing and improving their wheels for speed, originality, and a cool look. During these times, cars were "chopped, tubbed, raked, and hopped-up." These basic customizing techniques continued to become more elaborate until custom cars were being designed from scratch or by heavily converting existing vehicles into unbelievable designs. True show cars were distinguished by being one-of-a-kind originals, built from the ground up. It seems a paradox that their engines were extremely powerful, yet they rarely touched the road. In other words, these cars were meant to be looked at, not driven. The men who created them were true artists, and their creations were true art. Show cars belong to the genre of sculpture, and for those of us who couldn't afford the originals, there were always the model kits.

Probably the most famous custom car designers are George Barris and Ed Roth. Barris was one of the pioneer customizes and has personalized automobiles for many celebrities. An avid model and toy collector himself, Barris started making hobby kits of his cars with Revell in 1957, the first being a 1956 Buick. He is better known for his special cars however, and when AMT made a model kit of his 1960 Ala Kart, a whole line of kits designed after Barris' award-winning custom cars began.

Ed "Big Daddy" Roth, reached cult status on auto show circuits and teen modeler circles with his outrageous cars and Rat Fink character.

In 1967, Monogram and car designer started a partnership that would produce 60 kits and last nearly a decade. Daniel had previously worked for George Barris where he helped Tom Daniel design the Munster Koach and Dragula. One of Daniel's designs, the Red Barron, proved to be so popular that Monogram released it in a larger 1/12 scale.

Other heavy contenders on the show car circuit included Daryl Starbird, Carl Casper, and Bill Cushenberry. By the end of the 1970's though, the show car craze declined in popularity. Even though many wild rods are still being produced today, they sure don't make 'em like they used to!

Classic Plastic Rick Polizzi.

This list has now grown to include TV and Movie cars as well. Many of the show rod builders went on to build cars for TV and film, so it seems only right to keep them here.

The Rods

Gilbertson T (71 & 75 AMBR)
Starship (Darryl Starbird)
Test Tube T
Vampyre (Elden Titus)
Voodoo Spider (Elden Titus)



The Builders and Designers



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