1932 Fords have been favorites of hot rod builders.

Cammed up—Having a racing cam in a motor.

Custom Car
—A factory-made American automobile that has been modified for appearance. In Southwest Virginia the custom car’s golden era spanned the 1950s and early 1960s, and the custom car has been the most artistic facet of Southwest Virginia’s car culture.

This 1939 Ford Deluxe convertible custom car combines a Mustang suspension, a Chevrolet engine, and Desoto bumpers.

Deuce—A 1932 Ford.

This deuce street rod is outfitted with many of the comfort features of modern automobiles.

Dragster—A vehicle specially built for drag racing. Often the dragster frame is constructed from the ground up rather than being adapted from a factory-made vehicle.

Over the years dragster designs have led to longer frames and massive engines.

Drive-in cam—A technique in which the driver pulls out the choke so that the motor sounds as if it has a racing cam

Hot rod—A pre-1948 car modified in the 1950s or later with a big motor, often for drag racing. Ford and Chevrolet coupes have been the favorites among Southwest Virginia hot rod builders, and hot rods nationwide typically have a similar look.

While many hot rod owners kept their cars street legal so they could drive them daily, other rods were built specifically for the track.

Liquor car—A stock-looking car used for transporting illegal whiskey. Also referred to as a “hauler.”

Offy engine
—A regional term referring to a 1932-51 Ford or Mercury flathead engine with a multi-carb mounted on an aluminum Offenhauser intake manifold and a set of finned aluminum Offenhauser heads.

Pipes—Exhaust pipes, especially the chrome portion at the rear of the car. Hot rods and customs have dual pipes or “duals.”

—An automobile stance with the front end lower than the back. “Rake” is often achieved by putting small tires (and/or a dropped axle) in the front and large tires in back.

Resto rod—A hot rod which maintains an essentially stock body despite having typical rod modifications such as a rake, a late-model engine, and a late-model running gear.

Various performance modifications are hidden beneath the stock body of this 1939 Ford resto rod.

Rice Burner—Typically a small Japanese automobile with a high-performance engine and minor body modifications. Rice burners are popular among young males today.

Today the rice burner is the car of choice for speed fans in their teens and twenties.

Rigger—A person who builds hot rods and street rods.

—A person who transports illegal whiskey in a liquor car.

Skidder—A car modified to carry moonshine and liquor-making supplies through the woods to and from a still site. The car body is cut away so that the rear of the “skidder” is open like a truck body.

—Hubcaps with a bar (or bars) that appear to be spinning when the car is moving. Also called “flippers.”

—A person who shows off an automobile by doing a “burn out” at a stop light or other attention-grabbing behavior

Sprint Car—A mid-size open-wheel vehicle for racing on oval tracks.

Open-wheel sprint cars, such as this one driven by L. S. Jamison at the Starkey Speedway (Roanoke County), circa 1954, competed at oval tracks across Southwest Virginia for decades.

Stock Car—The most commonly raced automobile on oval tracks today. The modern stock car is engineered for safety and endurance at high speeds.

In earlier times stock car racers adapted an everyday vehicle to the track rather than build a car from the ground up.

Street Rod—A pre-1948 car modified to have the same performance qualities as a hot rod but with the comforts of later vehicles. Street rods are built for cruising.

Three on the tree—A three-speed standard transmission with the gear shift attached to the steering column.

Acknowledgements | Ferrum College and the Blue Ridge Institute & Museum | Contact