Modern Rodding STARTING OVER
Brian Brennan headshot
By Brian Brennan
A Few Observations

‘m guessing that all of us have spent a great deal more time holed-up over the past year than we have at any point in our collective lives. The good part is all of the indicators tell us that there are many old projects currently undergoing resurrection and new projects begun. I’ve had the good fortune to have grown up in our hobby/industry and I can say without a doubt there has never been a year quite like the one we have endured.

I’m hearing from manufacturers and builders alike that this past year has been like no other. All indications are trending that the economy will continue to rebound to pre-2019 levels, a good thing, and grow from there, another good thing. Of course, anytime the economy is on fire with growth one always has to watch out for inflation. We are still enjoying low interest rates but inflation is showing early signs of growth.

What do auctions really tell me about our hobby? Entities such as Mecum, Barrett-Jackson, and a host of others seem to be enjoying lively venues. Yes, the crowds are restricted but that hasn’t dampened the TV experience, with plenty of bidders present and on the phone lines willing to drive the numbers up.

What I have seen are the true pedigree cars continue to bring tall dollars, but I am also seeing prices dropping on some of my favorites. Early hot rods, the prices appear “soft,” while for the “right” muscle car, the prices are going up and others are coming back down into a believable range.

In my favorite’s category resides the C1, C2, C3 Corvettes, which are maintaining a manageable price, with the coveted models, such as an L88, ZL1, or other proper numbers-matching split-window with fuel injection, continuing to bring top dollars. I am also seeing a number of high-end builds going for dollars that are clearly below what it must have cost someone to build them. This is a good thing for the new owner as they couldn’t have afforded to build what they just purchased for the reduced dollars. Such is the case with any custom-built car; they are expensive to build and rarely bring back the money invested.

Will rodders come back to both indoor and outdoor shows like they did a few years ago? I keep thinking that once the doors open and rodders are allowed to attend events again they will come back in droves. I must admit I am wondering if that will happen right away or if it will take some time, like until next summer?

I’m noticing in my community as things start to open up people are getting out and, in many cases, it reminds me of the last day of school before summer vacation. The masses are unleashed and scurry like rodents running to all four corners. While I’m envisioning this, I’m also seeing a number of rodders who seem to be taking it a bit slower. Possibly because of the lingering effects of COVID-19.

Build Styles
Everyone wants to know what’s the next big wave of cars and build styles. So do I. Growth in popularity (based on discussions with manufacturers) tells us that the classic truck market is still on fire, the ’50s and ’60s cars are moving very well, while the new area for growth are the ’70s and later cars and trucks.

I can say that it appears early cars (pre-1949) are making a slow and steady comeback from the heydays of the ’90s and early ’00s. While Chevy and Ford will always be well liked there’s no doubt other GM makes, such as the Buick, Pontiac, Olds, and Caddy, are continually gaining in acceptance. Something else to keep your eye on are the Mopar brand of cars.

There was a time when technology was not looked upon favorably. I can remember the first electronic ignition. Rodders would carry an extra module around for their GM HEI because they were afraid of being left on the side of the road. The traditional points and condenser, regardless of how worn, could be tinkered with and get you home. I must have driven around for five years with an extra module tucked under my roadster’s seat. I never did use it. Eventually I realized, like everyone else, that the reliability factor of the new Detroit electronics was very good.

It was this first foray into technology that gave all of us confidence to accept more and more technology. Nowadays there’s absolutely nothing that Detroit can dream up that a hot order isn’t willing to try on his (or her) own hot rod.

Well, sit back and watch 2021 unfold. It should be an interesting and fast-paced ride.

Modern Rodding
VOLUME 2 • ISSUE 9 • 2021