Modern Rodding STARTING OVER
A headshot picture of Brian Brennan grinning
What’s Wrong With Today’s Car Culture?
By Brian Brennan

or many of us there is nothing wrong with today’s car culture. While there is plenty to be thankful for and to enjoy, I’m speaking of something that is a bit more fundamental. Something that is at the very core of what’s going on.

Look around and you will see many different aspects to our car culture. There are street rods, street machines, customs, lowriders, and various cruisers. Next there are indoor and outdoor car shows and all sorts of performance aspects, such as drag racing and autocross. And our car culture has room for the young and old alike. (Some of us don’t consider ourselves old, but alas we just might be.)

While I’ve written predominately about cars, what about trucks? Holy cow, the classic truck side, whether it be two- or four-wheel drive, has exploded. It is in the rocket growth stage that street rods were in the late ’80s-’90s, and it’s not just here in the states but around the world. The car culture is alive and well.

But is it?

What I’m referring to is the car culture that many of us experienced while still in our formative years. We started by building model cars (and trucks). Our dads and brothers brought us to all kinds of events, whether it be the local high school football field, the neighborhood shopping center, or to the indoor convention centers of the day. We worked on our buddies’ older brothers’ cars, or at least they let us watch or go get them burgers and fries. And then there was high school shop class. While my high school didn’t have an automotive shop, many of the neighboring schools did, and it was always fun to talk about and listen to what our partners at those schools were doing.

That got me thinking. A large segment of the current-day car culture grew up with TV shows, movies, and music all with a hot rod as a focal point. How many of us couldn’t wait for September to make the journey to all the new car dealerships and witness the unveiling of the new model year’s cars—especially the factory muscle cars. I know I did for many years. It was a “look forward to” moment every year. The showroom windows would be covered with large sheets of paper with headlines proclaiming the unveiling of the latest and greatest, the day and time when this would happen, and, of course, there would be balloons for the kids and hot dogs for those of us who wouldn’t (or couldn’t) turn down a free meal.

It was the night before the Mecum Auction and Goodguys Scottsdale would open their doors that we had “the conversation.” The Goodguys Scottsdale event is held at the WestWorld facility, and the Mecum Auction is held at the State Farm Stadium in neighboring Glendale. (If you like fantastic stadiums this should be on your “bucket list” as it is truly amazing.)

I began thinking about this on a recent trip to Hot Rods by Dean in Phoenix. I found myself on car culture “overload.” Here I was up close looking at all sorts of cars. I was exposed to literally thousands of projects, many of which I might not normally have paid attention. I was seeing all sorts and I was enjoying all of it. Once again, I found myself admiring the skill levels that exist throughout the entire car culture.

So, here I am at dinner with John Jackson of Not Stock Photography and Dean Livermore of Hot Rods by Dean. Jackson earlier that evening had shot a nifty Chevy that Livermore built and that will be featured in an upcoming issue of Modern Rodding. It was then the topic came up about the early days of our car culture and what we now miss about it. It was my opinion, and I think both Jackson and Livermore felt the same, that high school kids are missing out. They are missing out on shop class, all the old-time excitement that was built up around the debut of new cars, and much of the tribal knowledge that was passed down from one generation to the next. There was a lot of knowledge that was exchanged during those late-night garage get-togethers.

Nowadays I believe we miss out on all this excitement because of social media and the Internet. Don’t get me wrong it has its place and it sure does come in handy but, for me at least, it just isn’t the same. Too much, too soon, too fast. Nowadays, it seems like new models are introduced darn near 12 months out of the year. There is no one time you can look forward to.

Maybe it’s just me but I think high school kids of today are missing out on the old shop class and all that it brought about.

Modern Rodding
VOLUME 3 • ISSUE 20 • 2022