Street Rod & Custom Showtime takes a detailed look ‘into how we got where we are’ by focusing on the early years through to the unique period of the spectacular indoor shows when cars, such as Revenge, Silhouette, Hot ’n’ Bothered and Boulevard Blues made their debuts. The UK’s early years of hot rods, custom cars and bikes were exciting times when the sport created its own style, developed its own character and stood proud with its American cousins and even won acclaim in their backyard.
Long before the internet and affordable trans-Atlantic travel, we Brits created our own unique style of hot rods, influenced undoubtedly by the US magazines, but with little Stateside original tin available and even fewer parts, ingenuity came to the fore. The anticipation and excitement surrounding the vehicles that, still revered today, builders such as Ed Wimble, John Baldacchino, John Reed and Nick Butler would reveal each year is captured within the pages of Street Rod & Custom Showtime. The glitz and the glamour, and the traumas too, are relived within its pages.
The Rod & Custom Shows were my and Graham’s contribution and Street Rod & Custom Showtime is, in effect, my street rod now: The process is the same – an initial idea is honed until it meets the concept. Followed by searching and researching for the correct parts and configuration and then obtaining those pieces, and only then can the building process begin. The build itself takes over one’s life and some parts get consigned to the scrap pile but eventually the concept becomes reality and it is revealed to the aficionados. My ‘build’ took thirteen years, drawing initially and primarily on my experiences when organising custom shows at both Belle Vue and the National Exhibition Centre. But virtually no rod is created by one person alone and so it is with Street Rod & Custom Showtime as nearly one hundred people; car builders, show organisers, visitors and journalists, contributed to make it what it is – the complete story of the evolution of the UK’s indoor custom and hot rod show scene from 1963 to 1982 – the roots of today’s sport.
1. Hot ’n’ Bothered at Belle Vue in 1976. Mike Key photo from ISR&C
2. Alan Lambert’s ‘Street Legal’ Cortina pick up at Belle Vue. Mike Key photo
3. Robi Williams ’20 years of ISCA shows’ commemorative poster from 1980. From Rodger Attaway’s archive.