By on September 19, 2011

The rules for the Billetproof show are simple: Nothing newer than 1964, no trailered vehicles, no post-1960s mag wheels, no fenderless cars with independent front suspensions, and— above all— no billet anything! I flew out to California Saturday to check it out.
I’ve been going to these shows for a few years now, and I’m noticing a couple of very positive trends. First, way more engines other than small-block Chevy or Ford Windsor engines in patina’d-out fenderless rods. Even the flathead Ford V8s were getting boring.
Like, say, a Weber-ized Pinto engine.
Or a supercharged Toyota 22R. This one would have the old dudes at a pro-billet car show clutching their chests and toppling off their ice chests. All the Time Out Kids in the world couldn’t make up for the shock of seeing a rice-burning four-banger in a classic Detroit race car.
The Maserati Rod was back, and a big hit as usual… but isn’t it time someone built a ’58 Datsun (license-built Austin A50) with an Infiniti V8?
The other trend that’s so refreshing is the large number of examples of once-shunned-by-rodders marques such as Pontiac and Dodge.
Which is cool, because Pontiacs of this era have the extremely beautiful illuminated-Indian-head hood ornaments.
Though I prefer the Plymouth sailing-ship ornaments.
And where else would you see a 1945 International delivery truck slammed this low?
Even though I longed for a Maltese-cross rear-view mirror on my fenderless banana-seat Schwinn in 1971, I think the Maltese cross thing has been way overdone by now (and we all know who’s to blame). However, this version is still acceptable.
I think I need to start a car club, just so I can design a plaque like this.
It is impossible for me to go to any car-related event in the United States and not run into someone I know from 24 Hours of LeMons racing. Here’s the Model T GT, which is not only the quickest road-race T in the world, it’s also an excellent daily driver. Really, this car gets used for everyday transportation. I ran into members of the legendary Cannonball Bandits and a few other LeMons teams as well.
You can forget about the anorexic standard of beauty outside the gates of Billetproof; once you’re in the show, Bettie Paige and Tura Satana are the models for feminine beauty.
I’m working on a gallery of patina desktop wallpapers, to go with the Junkyard Desktop Wallpaper Collection, and Billetproof provides some great material for that project.
If you’d like to see some of these images in three corroded and/or button-popping dimensions, don your 3D glasses and head over to Cars In Depth.

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13 Comments on “Rust, Tatts, and Brilliant Engine Swaps: Billetproof California 2011...”

  • avatar

    I love it, but the problem with shows like this is that eventually everything gets standardized. The rat rod movement was great until everybody had to look like 50’s greasers (with more tattoos, natch) and rich guys started spending a lot of money to look cheap.

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    Hot girls, nice cars, loving it.

  • avatar

    I was watching American Chopper recently on television. While watching them build crazy bikes that are loaded with billet and chrome it struck me that the style of those bikes seems a little old fashioned to me now.

    It seems that most of the modern hot rods and custom cars that I have been seeing lately look more like the cars above. I have seen many that are sort of distressed. The bodies are painted to make them look like the paint is faded. Under the hood, everything is modern but looks like it is old. See this one from Adam Carolla’s Carcast:

    This is a pretty radical change for custom cars (and bikes) but I must say, that I kind of like it.

    Anyone have any thoughts about why this style seems to be taking over? Is it the rat rod influence or is it the economy? It seems like bad economic times might make it less fashionable to be ostentatious.

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      Many, many moons ago Hot Rod Magazine tried to champion something called “Dare To Be Different.” I see this as the ultimate flowering of that.

      This blog credits them with running “Dare to Be Different” features since 1989. (When I was 12 years old, and yeah my dad had a subscription so it must have had an impact on me.)

  • avatar

    While I like it, I am having trouble understanding the rules. It said NOTHING post-1964, but Pinto and 22R engines are newer than that, and the Model T-GT has new mag wheels…

  • avatar

    Now that is an interesting car show.

  • avatar

    I have to disagree, I hate the whole rat rod look. I mean I get the old body – new engine, trans, etc but it’s still ugly.

  • avatar

    I drive bland Japanese cars (older TL, Outback) which are beige (champagne!) and live in Idaho. But, these things are just cool to me. I don’t know why, maybe just the rat-rod look. I’d love to see one with an Olds Rocket and a corresponding motif.

    I also like the Ed Roth style rods too.

  • avatar

    I want to join the “Murilee Militia” car club. What does the initiation involve? And I need a cool car club plaque to put on the back of the Chevette Stingray!!!

  • avatar

    What on earth is going on with that green engine? What is it? And what are the leads to the exhausts for?

    • 0 avatar

      Personally I like odd-colored engines – I got burnt out on car shows 25 years ago (another old Mustang, another old Mustang, and another one, then onto the ’55 Chevys, rinse and repeat) so I like seeing vehicles that are unique.

      The exhaust headers have spark plugs mounted in them, connected to coils on the firewall. I believe this is for flame-throwing – while driving and in gear the engine’s ignition is briefly turned off, pumping unburnt air-fuel mixture out the exhaust, where it is then ignited by the spark plugs there. Very impressive at night!

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