5 Hot Rod Magazine cover cars we’d love to see at Pebble Beach
Hot rods are fundamentally everything that the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance isn’t. At least on paper, the idea of hot rodding is to improve and modify something old, to make it different and more powerful. Though, since its original hot rod class in 2001, the folks at Pebble Beach seem to be embracing the historical significance of what are ostensibly coach-built cars, often restored to the same caliber as cars you expect to see like a Ferrari 250 GTO or Duesenberg Model J. Continuing this appreciation for heavily massaged but historically significant cars, this year’s Concours d’Elegance is hosting a special class dedicated to Hot Rod Magazine cover cars.
We’ve caught wind that there will be eight spots for the class, and we’re sure the cars are already picked out and ready to bask in the California sunshine. Even though we know the total number, we haven’t seen the entry list yet. That gives us a perfect excuse to flip through our stacks of vintage Hot Rod Magazines and pick five cars we think are deserving.
5. Dick Flint’s 1929 Ford Roadster, May 1952
Arguably one of the most important Hot Rod Magazine covers, this Valley Custom Shop-built 1929 Ford exemplifies the early 1950’s street roadster look. Like most early high-end hot rods, it had no problem getting out of its way in its prime, reportedly going 143 mph at El Mirage in 1950. Powered by a heavily reworked Mercury flathead V8, this car was no slouch in its day. Combine the speed with the extensively reworked body by Valley Customs, and this was an obvious pick for the HRM team in 1952.
As the star of one of the most important covers in the magazine’s history, the Dick Flint car is an obvious choice to slate for Pebble Beach. Not only is it a fantastic example of what high-end hot rods were like in the early 1950s, it also helps show how quickly trends changed over the 1950s.
4. Clarence Catallo’s 1932 Ford three-window “Silver Sapphire”: July 1961
Like the Dick Flint roadster embodies the aesthetics and decisions of the early parts of the 1950s, this $75 1932 perfectly captures the early 1960’s trends in hot rodding. Originally built by the Alexander Brothers in Detroit, and then reworked at Barris Kustoms, you might better know this car as the “Little Deuce Coupe,” as it was picked as the cover art for the Beach Boys’ 1963 album of the same name. While it might be better known for its Beach Boys’ album appearance, the “Silver Sapphire” was a competitive show car and that was surprisingly quick at the track, which is why it graced the cover of HRM in 1961.
The “Silver Sapphire” has already been shown at Pebble Beach, so it probably won’t make a second appearance, but this is my list, and it’s one of my favorite cars ever built.
3. Richard Peter’s 1929 Ford Roadster pickup “Ala Kart”: October 1958
The two-time winner of the “America’s Most Beautiful Roadster” title, the Barris-built 1929 Ford owned by Richard Peter’s might be one of the most historically significant hot rods ever built. Not only is it the only two-time winner of the award, but it might also be one of the earliest examples of a purpose-built show car. The “Ala Kart” was built to win indoor car shows, and it did exactly that. It was perfectly restored, and competed for a third AMBR trophy, but fell short.
Ironically, this might be the worst cover of the cars on this list. Unlike the well-orchestrated covers above, and below, this issue’s cover seems almost thrown together. But what better way to give it the just desserts it deserves by throwing it out on the hallowed Pebble Beach grounds half a century later?
The McMullen ’32 Ford Roadster might be one of the most important hot rods ever built. It also happens to be one of the best Hot Rod Magazine covers ever run.
2. Tom McMullen’s 1932 Ford Roadster: April 1963
Tom McMullen’s ’32 Ford Roadster was always on the bleeding edge of hot rodding trends. Considering the car was allegedly used to generate income from street races, and since it was used for “How-to” articles, this 1932 Ford always had the look of the year. It would make sense that its most well-known version also shows major trend changes happening in the custom world. Gone are whitewall tires and wild, flashy paint jobs. Nope, here you see a no-nonsense 1932 Ford roadster, painted black and accented by pinstriping and a flame job. More importantly, you see a blown Chevy small block tucked underneath the hood.
Like the “Silver Sapphire,” McMullen’s ’32 was used for an album cover, albeit one less popular. Even though the album was named after a Beach Boys’ song, it was a compilation album and has fallen out of the zeitgeist in ways that “Little Deuce Coupe” hasn’t.
As of late, the McMullen ’32 has been restored to this version and has been bouncing around different auctions. Most recently, it went across the block at the Mecum Kissimmee, Florida auction.
1. The Pierson Brothers’ 1934 Ford three-window coupe: April 1950
The Pierson Brothers’ coupe might be one of the most important hot rods ever built. It stormed down lake beds and salt lakes, pushing the limits of technology and design. In its day, it sported one of the earliest candy paint jobs, giving it a red, white and blue appearance. It was responsible for changing the hot rod paradigm from a roadster-exclusive world to coupe inclusion.
Of course, this ’34 Ford has been meticulously restored and shared the green with the Silver Sapphire at Pebble Beach 18 years ago. Still, considering the importance of the car, and the significance of the cover, it’s time to drag this ex-race car out and put it on the green.
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