Images by Bruce Caldwell and Jerry Heasley.
An iconic street rod is one that is instantly recognizable for what it is and for what it represents. Anyone even vaguely familiar with hot rods/street rods knows a 1932 Ford and its importance in the world of modified cars.
Any list of iconic street rods is heavily populated with Fords. Fords were the vehicles of choice for the earliest hot rodders (pre-World War II), and they remained so after the war when hot rodding really caught on. Many GIs heard about California hot rods from fellow soldiers and sailors or they ended up being discharged in California and experienced the cars firsthand.
Roadsters were the de facto hot rods because of their light weight, and the favorable California climate meant an ample supply of roadsters. Hot Rod magazine, started in Los Angeles in January 1948, focused initially on local cars and events, which helped spread the California car culture nationwide. People in other states were every bit as enthusiastic and creative, but the warmer climate and magazine coverage gave the west coast a huge boost.
Our list of the top ten iconic street rods is presented chronologically to make it less subjective. In many cases, particular body styles are iconic while others aren’t. For example, a 1932 Ford Fordor is still a 1932 Ford, but it’s not an iconic street rod. The 1932 Ford roadster and coupe are both so iconic that we gave them each their own mention. Other 1932 Ford body styles such as the Tudor sedan, Victoria, phaeton, cabriolet, and sedan delivery all make outstanding street rods, but they don’t have the iconic status of the roadster and coupe.
Most of the entries cover several (or more) years. That’s because, with the exception of the 1932 Ford, most of these cars were built as series with only minor changes between years. Street rodders tend to mix and match parts within the series, which can further blur any differences.
Street Rod Icons
Street Rod Icons - Woodies
Street Rod Icons - 1937-1938 Chevys
Street Rod Icons - 1932 Ford Roadsters
Street Rod Icons - 1940-1941 Willys Coupes
Street Rod Icons - Model A Fords
Street Rod Icons - Model T Fords
Street Rod Icons - 1939-1940 Ford Coupes
Street Rod Icons - 1933-1934 Fords
Street Rod Icons - 1933-1935 Chevys
Street Rod Icons - 1932 Ford Coupes