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1935 Chevy streetrod

Broadcast date : 25th April 2004


In the late nineteen forties, America was awash with young men looking for at least some of the excitement they'd found on the battlefields of Europe, North Africa and Asia in World War Two.

And in Southern California, there was good weather, dry lakes to race on and lots of beat-up old pre-War cars to fool around with.

The art and science of Hot-rodding was born.

Soon street racing was getting out of hand and the official sport of drag racing was formed in 1948.

But there were those for whom looks were just as important as performance, and out of hot-rodding grew the more delicate art of street-rodding.

Today street-rodding is a world-wide cult, with clubs as far afield as Denmark and Japan. And in South Africa the street rod national meetings held every second year draw over 300 outstanding examples.

Such a car is the 1935 Chevy belonging to Piet Strydom, and it has a very specific look. One could say that Piet's Chev is typical of the late nineteen sixties, early 'seventies street rod and today it is known as the resto-rod look.

The bodywork is left un-modified apart from the paintwork, and removal of some trim and bumpers. This look features none of the radical chopping of roof-lines and widening of mudguards that were all the rage in the late 1980s.

The great thing about street rodding is that all forms are recognised. The basis is usually an American car, dating from the nineteen twenties right up to the late nineteen fifties. But some English cars, like Ford Anglias from the early fifties for instance, are also recognised as cool.

But the classic years are the 1930s, and they don't get more classic than this three-window nineteen thirty-five Chevy coupe, complete with a dickey seat.

The Craygar mag wheels are classic street-rodding paraphernalia in their own right. This five-spoke design was much sought after in the 1960s and today they are prized amongst classic street rodders.

If there is such a thing as a generic street rod engine, itís the small block Chevy V8.

The engine powering Piet's baby is the Z28 Camaro engine which also powered the racing Chevy Can Ams in the 1970s. Motorsport enthusiasts will remember these wild Firenza-based cars, developed by Basil van Rooyen in South Africa for racetrack success.

Piet has worked this one over a bit more, with a wilder camshaft, big valve cylinder heads and a bigger Holley four-barrel carb.

The nice thing about a street rod is that it is a work in progress. Piet has already given it a completely new look since buying it a few years ago, and he is constantly adding new items in the "go and looks" departments.

As Piet says, when you are using all 300 horses in a car designed for about 50 horsepower, you really know you are driving.

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