I have been asked this question a lot and have seen it asked a lot as well. What are the modern Hot Rods? What cars can be considered the Modern Hot Rods? Usually when this question is asked either someone says that there are no modern Hot Rods that Hot Rods are a 65 and older thing, or someone will say that the Imports are the new Hot Rods or the lower riders or the brand new mustang is. Really however, none of these are the Modern Hot Rods.
You are probably asking yourself “What are the modern Hot Rods?” Well before I get to which cars could actually be considered the modern I want to go over how I determined which cars are the modern Hot Rods.
First thing is Cost: The cost to buy the car and cost of parts.
Second Thing is Mods: What mods are available and how common parts are.
Most of these cars are getting close to 30 years old, kind of like the 32 Fords in the 60s. Most of these cars stock only have around 200 HP but a lot can be done to them for cheap.
Ford F-150, 1980-1986 Cost: $800-$2000
A highly over looked car that can be made into a Hot Rod. These cars are usually just thought of as more of a basic cheap truck or a rednecks toy to go mudding with. However these cars will most likely contain either a 302W or a 351W that parts are easy to find (jegs or summit racing) ad can be built to make some serious power!
Ford Bronco, 1980-1986 Cost: $800-$3000
This Full Size SUV is easy to find and can be found for super cheap. Usually more thought of as a Mud Bogger or a car to make into a Monster Truck. These Ford can be cheaply made into a great Hot Rod. Though it only has about 210 Horsepower stock these trucks will come with a 302W, a 351W or a 351M (the 351Ms aka the Cleveland’s are rare though) so they can be made to have some serious power!
Dodge Mirada, 1980-1983, Cost: $500-$2000
The Forgotten Mopar from the early 80s. This was a short lived car at a time when MOPAR was having Financial Troubles (kind of like… we heard all of the Mopar economy jokes) and it was suppose to be a luxury car. However it did not sell as well as the Monte Carlo or Thunderbird and the car has become forgotten over the years…which is great! It’s great because I have seen ones that run go for around $700, and these cars come with a 318 stock but you can swap in a 340 or a 360 LA for some series power!
Dodge Aspen, 1976-1980 Cost: $900-$3000
Mopar’s late 70s compact/ mid size car. The car did win car of the year for 1976 (though that didn’t help the value today) and these cars can be found for dirt cheap in good condition. The Aspen was meant to be a low powered Sport Coupe or an affordable family Sedan; the car even had an R/T package to it. Most Aspens will have the 318 in them but you can get the R/Ts with the 360. You can also find a used 360 for cheap to swap in if you don’t like the 318.
Chevy Caprice, 1977-1990 Cost: $2000-$4000
Another over looked car which can be made into a great Hot Rod. The Caprice is usually more seen as a low-rider or a car with big rims but these cars are great platforms for Hot Rods. The 77-79 Models came with the famous Small Block Chevy 350, though only stock rated at 170 HP it can be modified like any other 350 for series horsepower. The later models came with the Chevy 305 which can be built up for power as well but you can also found a used 350 for cheap and swap that into the Caprice.
Chevy Malibu, 1978-1983 Cost: $2000-$4000
Usually thought of as an ugly early 80s car, sometimes even considered a Guido car. The Malibu has actually in the past few years become more popular among drag racers! Mainly do to its straight axle rear wheel drive set up, and you can easily fit in a 350 or something bigger such as a 427 or 454.
Chevy Monte Carlo, 1978-1988 Cost: $2000- $4500
One of the cars from its era that has performance that wasn’t the Trans Am, Camaro, or the Mustang. The Monte Carlo is easy to find, it’s a bit pricier than the other cars on the list but if you have the money it’s worth it! Most Monte Carlos will have either a V6 or the 305 in it, however some actually have a diesel V8. If you don’t know anything about diesels I recommend going with a V6 or 305 Carlo than getting a used 350 to swap into it. They can make great drag cars or if you are more into pro-touring they can be pro-touring as well.
Chevy S10, 1985-1993 Cost: $700-$3000
The small compact Pick Up Truck from Chevy. These trucks are a great example of a modern day hot rod, it the 85 through 98 models come stock with a 4.3l (262) V6 which is basically a Chevy 350 missing Cylinders 3 and 6! Performance parts for your 350 such as pistons, rockers, values, and the Edelbrock performer manifold will work on the 4.3l engine. However if you want something with more power you can of course do the 350 swap but others have done 427s and even 454s into this truck. Even though this truck is cheap and not thought of as a Hot Rod by most, there has been Pro Mod S10s! Making this one of the best Hot Rods!
Even though many people don’t know about it or don’t believe there is, there are more than a few platforms to build a modern Hot Rod and do it on a cheap budget! All of these cars are commonly found on craigslist, and in other used car adds, mods are cheap and parts are affordable and easy to find!
I will do a build article on a few of these rods, but tells use your thoughts on these cars, leave it as a comment below.