I really enjoyed what you called the halcyon days of British Customising (Scene & Heard, May 2019 issue), but I do not wear flares, and I do not let my hair grow past my shoulders any more!
I believe this lifestyle/hobby has learnt by its mistakes, and is still learning. There were great cars built in those times, but there was also a load of tacky rubbish. There was the phase of jacking up the rear with a Jag IRS that had lights shining on it, and sticking thousand of lights on the front and back of the car, and the best, sticking a big chrome grille from another car onto the front of yours. Most of those things did not look good then, and do not look good now! When cars like Richard Wales’ Triumph Herald, John Baldaccino’s Hot and Bothered, and then John’s HA Van came out, they still had the Jag IRS under the back, but they were more refined, and that is why we still love them.
I never liked the Golden Sahara because it looked like a car out of the Jetsons, and is what I call American Tack, but the Kookie Car, with those flames, is not restrained – just cut out the tasteful remark, and add “COOL.” That Model T is the reason why most people have and will build hot rod Ts. Gary Belcher’s V12 T did have tasteful restraint, and that is why it is now in a museum!
I am sure Humdinger was a laugh to build and drive by the owner with his mates, and me and my mates laughed at it when we saw it at a show, but then we went to look and concentrate on the cars that looked cool! To be honest, I do not think there has ever been a well-done customised MkIII Zephyr; the only exception being the almost completely fibreglass bodied drag racing one, which is very cool!
I like to remember cars like Rubellion, that got steadily improved from a green thing with horrible arches to a cool roof chopped and blown hot rod – from uncool to cool!
Just another day in Hot Rod World…
Rhino, via email.
Some builds are very much of their time; they suffer from the shifting sands of fashion as much as anything else, and today’s Next Big Thing will be tomorrow’s embarrassing memory. Some cars are timeless, and look as fresh today as they did when they were debuted 10, 20, 30 or more years ago (we may have an example of that coming up in the next issue!). Not every custom build over the years has been a bullseye, but as the old saying goes, if you can’t be a role model, be a bad example. I’m just glad they were built at all; without them, there wouldn’t be a custom scene today. DS, SM