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10 Classics That Make Great Hot Rods

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Hot rods offer motor enthusiasts the fun of crafting powerful and stylish vehicles out of existing cars, and they also provide one-of-a-kind driving experiences. No two hot rods are exactly the same, and there are countless possibilities for different designs and modifications. If you’re ready to get into hot rodding, here are some great classic cars you may want to consider modifying. 


The first classic car on our list is the luxurious Lincoln-Zephyr, produced from 1936 to 1942. There’s much to love about this classic, but motor enthusiasts especially adore its V12 engine which was divided into two balanced inline six cylinders. While most competing cars at that time only featured eight cylinders, the Zephyr sported a powerhouse 267 cu in fat-head V12 with 111 horsepower.

In addition to its powerful engine, the car also featured a highly unique body that’s perfect for customizing. It’s no mystery why this car was also known as the “sexy beast” — Lincoln truly outdid themselves with its design.

Unfortunately, these cars are rare, but there are many replicas available on the market. 

Dodge Charger

Dodge has produced many different interactions of its breathtaking Charger. In fact, they’ve created seven generations of the vehicle since 1966. Although every Charger generation has had much to offer motorists, we recommend hot rodding the first-generation Dodge Charger produced in 1966 and 1967. The first-generation Dodge Charger was a 2-door fastback and came with various notable engine and transmission options. Perhaps its most famous engine was the 426 cu in 2x4bbl Hemi RB V8. 

Although we also love the 1966 Dodge Charger, the 1967 iteration came with unique benefits, including a vinyl roof and a huge, beautiful interior that could even fit three people in the front seat comfortably. 

Ford Model T

Motor enthusiasts have produced countless breathtaking hot rods out of Ford Model Ts over the years. Ford produced this groundbreaking car from 1908 to 1927, and it paved the way for future vehicles because it was the first affordable car. In fact, it was the world’s best-selling car until the Volkswagen Beetle surpassed it in 1972. 

The original Ford Model T came with a 177 C.I.D. I4 engine with 20 horsepower and 2-speed planetary gear transmission, but you can upgrade this stunning car to get more bang for your buck. 

Ford Model B

Although Ford’s most famous classic car is the Model T, they produced many other breathtaking cars in the first half of the 20th century, including the Ford Model B. Not to be confused with the 1904 Model B that predated the Model T, the 1932-1934 Ford Model B offers hot rodders many gorgeous 2-door body types, including the coupe, sedan, roadster, and more.  

The original car came with a 201 cubic inch L-head-I3 engine and a 3-speed sliding-mesh manual transmission. 

Volkswagen Beetle

When you think of highly customized hot rods, your first thought may be the classic VW Beetle. What’s especially great about hot rodding this famous classic is that it’s more affordable than most classic cars, and it’s also less expensive to maintain. 

The VW Beetle was first produced in Nazi Germany in 1938, and it featured an air-cooled flat-four 60.7 cubic inch engine with 25 horsepower. Although the car’s original engine leaves much to be desired, hot rodders have come up with many powerful modifications

Toyota Land Cruiser

Toyota produced its powerful Land Cruiser from 1960 to 2001, and its boxy shape makes it ideal for hot rodding. The vehicle sports a traditional body-on-frame design, and it came in a 2-door pickup, 2-door SUV, 4-door pickup, and 4-door SUV. The car had many petrol and diesel engine options as well as different wheelbase versions. 

Mercury Eight

Ford’s Mercury division manufactured the Mercury Eight from 1939 to 1951. It featured an FR layout and numerous different body styles, including convertibles, station wagons, sedans, and coupes. The Mercury Eight’s first generation featured a 239 cubic inch Flathead V8 engine with a 3-speed manual transmission. 

In addition to being a remarkably beautiful classic car, the Mercury Eight has also solidified its place in American popular culture through its many movie appearances. The car was featured in Rebel Without a Cause, Grease, American Graffiti, Badlands, and more. 

VW Bus

Like the VW Beetle, the VW Bus is highly customizable, and hot rodders have created impressive VW Bus Hot Rods through the years. The vehicle offers a robust body that serves as a great starting point for a beautifully-customized hot rod. The first generation of the VW bus came with a 1.1-1.6 L B4 petrol engine, so you’ll likely want to equip this vehicle with something more fun and powerful. 

Willys Americar

Willys-Overland Motors made a name for itself through the WWII-era Willys Jeeps, but that’s not all they had to offer. From 1937 to 1942, they produced the Willys Americar, which had an FR layout and a 2.2 L Go-Devil I4 engine with 60 horsepower. The car had different body styles, including sedan, station wagon, pickup truck, and coupe. People frequently use the 2-door coupe body to create remarkable, one-of-a-kind hot rods.

Ford Mustang Fastback

Finally, the Ford Mustang Fastback is a stunning and powerful pony car that’s perfect for hot rodding. Ford produced the first-generation Mustang from 1964 to 1973, and in addition to its 2-door fastback body style, it could come in a 2-door hardtop and a 2-door convertible. It originally came equipped with either a Thriftpower I6 engine or a small block V8. 

Get Custom Insurance on Your Customized Hot Rod

Regardless of what type of car you decide to customize, get the best protection available through Classic Auto Insurance. We offer affordable and robust insurance for hot rods, and we’ll work with you to create the most optimal insurance plan for your one-of-a-kind vehicle. Call us today at 888-901-1338. 

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