Video: The Cool Hot Rod, 1953

Cool Hot Rod 4Here’s another great period hot rodding film, “The Cool Hot Rod” from 1953. 


We all know the drill. Back in the day, short films like these were produced to promote the brand new sport of hot rodding and clean up its soiled image. And at the time, it could use some cleaning up: Hot rods were regarded as tools of juvenile delinquency, not much better than motorized switchblades. The infant high performance industry was keen to repair that image and make some real money. Quoting from the film’s preface:

Since World War II a new hobby has appeared in the United States—the sport of building and racing converted stock cars. For a time, these “hot rod” were considered a menace. But now, more than 2 1/2 million men and women have banded together in clubs and timing associations, dedicated to safety and safe driving, and determined to give the term “hot rod” a new and respected meaning. 

The film’s story line is a familiar one, too. A reckless teenager learns the error of his street racing ways and evolves into a respectable young hot rodder, an asset to his community. In this story, our plucky hero even gets to visit the Indianapolis 500 as a guest of racing great Ralph DePalma.

Of course, we know why we watch these corny old reels: To see all the great vintage hot rods in their original Southern California settings. See how many famous cars and venues you can spot. One you’re sure to notice is the dragster of the legendary Bean Bandits led by Joaquin Arnett. It’s a great time, enjoy the film.



4 thoughts on “Video: The Cool Hot Rod, 1953

  1. If any of that ever existed outside of LA, it was gone by the time I started driving. My driver’s ed classes had no dual-control cars, or any cars at all. Just “Unsafe at Any Speed” movies. I think they were all produced in the early 50s like this one. Considering that we were driving 440-6 Paks and tunnel-ram Yenko Chevys, it might have been a good idea. Forget drag strips. The nearest was 120 miles away.

  2. I was never into these type cars other than going to the old stock car races back in the early 50’s. I got my lisc. in 1955 and was more into ford convertibles of the early 50’s variety with glass packs, nosed and decked, dual spots etc. My first car was 51 Ford convertible. By 1956 I never saw many early 30’s converted street rods except at the races.

  3. In the freeze frame at the start of the video that’s Gene Adams’ ’50 Olds 88 fastback. Cool!

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