After spending years going to car shows and cruises I have to laugh when a guy rolls in with a very nice traditional style car very period correct, and a spectator walks up to the guy and says hey! Nice rat rod! As I sit there and watch blood boil I cant help to chuckle a little bit, I don't know how many times my panel truck has been called a suburban or a low rider, and then you correct the guy and he sits there and argues with you because he knows more about your car then you do. So today I am going to talk about what I think is the difference between kinds of old cars, maybe this will keep people from punching other people in the face.
Early cars 1910 to say 1964 No modifications a completely stock car I consider this as a "classic car" A slightly modified car or truck with in these years that is built to cruise I would consider as a "street rod". A Heavily Modified car or truck from these years that is mainly used for track use then road use I would consider as a "hot rod" Race car of course is a car that stays on a track.
Muscle Car I think of them as a big boxy style car 1965 to 1975 with a ton of power. Resto mods are muscle cars with updated drive trains, wheels and most of the time updated suspensions. Pro Street Cars I Think of a muscle car that is tubed raced on a track and some small road driving. Low riders are a heavily customized vehicle typically from the 30's on up riding low with hydraulics or air ride suspension, highly modified interiors over the top paint and graphics.
Now the one that is mostly mistaken, the traditional hot rod, this is a car or truck that has been built with the tools and parts available only in the 40's and 50's people also use the techniques that were popular in the day. The rat rod is something that people put together with crusty used parts that they have laying around, little to not much paint and heavily modified. Not all rat rods are created equal I have seen stuff that should not be allowed on the road, but there is some cool stuff out there that is put together with used parts very little paint and usually heavily modified that is well built and safe.
When it comes to trucks I usually try to keep the same guide lines, I like to add a additional category to trucks, which I call the "shop truck" These can be any year, have a shop name and info on them, mild custom and get used daily for shop running and service. I also like to drop wreckers in this category to. Are these considered official? No absolutely not after spending years in this industry this is just my thoughts of the different kinds of old cars.