Modern Rodding STARTING OVER
Brian Brennan Portrait
By Brian Brennan
of a Long Line of History Makers

“Isky” Iskenderian represents one of the cornerstones that our industry was built upon. The mere mention of his name elicits a flood of rodding history. I often see Isky at the SEMA Show where he will remove a pen or a pair of calipers from his pocket protector to jot down a note or measure something mechanical. His mind is as inquisitive today as it was decades ago and he represents the hot rodder’s need to know, to tinker, to make our own mark in our chosen hobby. 

I always look forward to seeing him at the Grand National Roadster Show or the L.A. Roadsters Father’s Day Show as he carefully walks down each aisle absorbing the visible craftsmanship. He looks at what today’s builders have accomplished while fully understanding and appreciating their efforts. Yet, it’s us who should be appreciating what he began in a workshop too long ago for most of us to recall. (Isky will turn 100 years old this year, born July 10, 1921.)

It’s my hope we get back to something approaching normal so I may still have the honor to yell out “Isky.” He’s easily approachable and a living, breathing, walking memory of hot rodding. He possesses a broad smile, eyes bright with life that remain amazed at what he sees. He embodies hot rodding and that’s why we embark in this issue of Modern Rodding on a two-part series on the “Cam Father and his roadster.” (Many thanks to journalist supreme Matt Stone.) 

There are thousands of at-home builders who work at their hobby in near oblivion and I, too, wish to honor them along with Isky. Jack Stirnemann was one of those every-man hot rodders. He appreciated the hot rods with history, he enjoyed building his own rides, and he absorbed every bit the rodding world had to offer. I, for one, was never able to spend the time I would have liked but what time I did spend I relished.

There are others who have come during Isky’s reign, giving us a great deal but have left us far too soon. If I say “Lil’ John” or “Boyd” or “Lobeck” I would imagine everyone reading this column would know who I was writing about. There was only one Buttera, Coddington, or Barry. Each of these builders brought more to our hobby than innovative or beautiful builds. Their mere presence was often enough to start an “event within an event.” There was no sitting on the fence when in their presence, as each elicited an emotional feeling from all of us. I’m willing to bet these feelings weren’t all good, and, for sure, they weren’t all bad. They made us think and ask ourselves, “What are we bringing to the table that’s hot rodding?” “How’s my hobby any better because of my presence?” Their personalities, as each of their trademark builds, spoke volumes about themselves but also where our hobby was at the time and where it was headed.

I would be remiss not to mention Pete Chapouris along with another rodding legend Jim “Jake” Jacobs. The two of them were at the very “birth” of modern street rodding with Pete & Jake’s Hot Rod Parts. Pete for sure left us too soon but Jake, like Isky, is still here and enjoying our hobby. Pete understood what a hot rod should look like yet he also understood people, possibly more so and, as such, he understood where our hobby was and where it should be heading. He was truly at home behind a desk or a welder. 

In my somewhat misunderstood, and recently discarded, arena of the hot rod industry there’s publishing. The likes of LeRoi “Tex” Smith, Tom Medley, Ray Brock, Dick Wells, Eric Rickman, Tom McMullen, Tom Senter, and, the one who was there at the beginning, Robert “Pete” Petersen who have all gone before, reported on, and left an indelible mark on our hobby. It’s the likes of these rodding journalists who allowed many of us to begin our love affair with our hobby that we have nurtured throughout a lifetime. There was, is, and will always be a world of wonderment between the pages of our magazines … whether they be print or digital. 

The car magazines we all grew up with have grown up too with the advent of embedded videos, websites, social media, and much more. Somewhere in the back of your mind remember where we, our rodding idols, and our favorite magazines came from and you will truly enjoy the journey so much more. It’s time to slide back into your Barcalounger or find yourself parked alongside your workbench and enjoy another issue of Modern Rodding.

Modern Rodding
VOLUME 2 • ISSUE 2 • 2021