Hot rodding has become a bit of a glamorous industry, which often has a price tag to match, but its origins are much more humble
than many of us realise. The Gippsland Vehicle Collection’s latest exhibition, Rods and Custom Cars and Bikes, is a showcase of modified vehicles – some with only minor adjustments, some entirely unique from the ground up.
Hot rods originated back in the 1930s when young (mostly) men with very little money started buying cheap, cast-off, older vehicles and converting them into the faster and more stylish vehicles that they lusted after but couldn’t afford. The concept really took off after World War II when former soldiers, who had been doing very exciting things like flying planes and driving army vehicles came home with engineering and mechanical skills, and found themselves gravitating towards motor racing and building their own cars.
One of the great exhibits at the GVC right now is a 1924 Chevrolet Roadster that was built as a tribute to the early modified vehicles in America, which were built for speed, looks and were Spartan in their design.
Owner Chris Henry of Gormandale, who built the car from scratch over an 18-month period from 2001, said it “has nothing on it that it doesn’t need”.
“It’s arcing on the edge of being a racecar, but it was built for street use,” he added.
“Paying tribute to the early days of modified roadsters in the ‘30s and ‘40s, this Chev reflects the very start of hot rodding as we know it today.”
Mr Henry said the story of the car’s creation was covered in Australian Street Rod magazine, which featured it as a build-up car over 13 issues.
“That’s probably why I got it finished so quickly – I had to have the next steps done in time for the magazine deadline. I’ve got other cars I’ve had for 20 years that still aren’t finished.”
If you want to see this, and many other fabulous hot rods and custom vehicles currently on display, GVC entry costs $15 per adult, $10 concession. Children 15 and under are admitted free. The Museum is open 10am to 4pm Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday, and every day in the school holidays – as long as we aren’t in lockdown.
The full Rod and Custom exhibition will remain on display until November, and the majority of the vehicles will stay but will be joined by a smaller exhibition of vehicles, Cars of 1969 – the Year of the Moon Landing, from November to February. So many reasons to come and visit us at the Gippsland Vehicle Collection!