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Hot Rod restoration, tradition over trend

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Hot Rod restoration, tradition over trend

Ken Smith’s 1966 Mustang

Ken Smith’s 1966 Mustang

Olivia Escutia

Ken Smith’s 1966 Mustang

Olivia Escutia

Olivia Escutia

Ken Smith’s 1966 Mustang

Natalie Moreno, Reporter

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When most people think of hot rods, they think muscle cars. But it is the complete opposite for Glendale Hot Rod participants.

From Sept. 5- Nov. 14, Westgate entertainment district will host Hot Rod Night every Wednesday, from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., where owners of classic cars can display their most prized possessions.

“Well, you know, there’s a lot of people that don’t know the difference between a hot rod, a custom car and a muscle car. So, you know, when they see my car, they ask me what kind of car is it so I tell them the make, and model and then they look at the way it’s done, and then I get to explain to them,” said 1950 Pontiac owner, Ed Gonzalez.

For most of the classic car owners, their vehicles are not a trend, but rather something they treasure, enjoy restoring and cruising in.

“I obtained it from my brother and it’s been in the family since it was new,” said Ken Smith, owner of a 1966 black Mustang.

Smith restored his first-generation Mustang from its original unibody and has maintained it cautiously since.

Most hot rod owners make their cars “restomod”—a restored but slightly modified and modern version of the car, keeping  the classic look but modernize parts of the engine and interior to allow them to use their old car in the present-day world.

“I keep their nostalgic look. I don’t change the body, I’ll only upgrade the car so it’s safer and the performance is better,” Smith said.  “We don’t change it from the way the car was back in those days. It takes away from the originality of the car.”

Smith and others are passionate about their cars and love to educate people about their history.

“If you go to car shows, any of the owners of the cars will be glad to help you understand the history of the car…so don’t be afraid to ask questions,” Gonzalez said.

The car shows allow Gonzalez and others to display their “babies” for others to admire.

Ed Gonzalez with his 1950 Pontiac


Ed Gonzalez with his 1950 Pontiac“It’s actually a social thing, I know a lot of the guys here. We’ve been coming here for years and it’s fun,” Smith said, “I mean, you know, shows are one thing but, I like cruising it around and have people ask me about it.”.

Although many people restore and sell classic cars, the participants of Hot Rod Night restore and keep their cars to love and enjoy while they can.

“It will only go to a grandson that knows how to keep it the way it is—the way it’s meant to be,” Smith said—with regard to future plans for his Mustang.

Gonzalez agreed with Smith and referred to his own grandchildren,

“They’re so young…maybe later but the car is a keeper for me. It’s probably gonna be the last car that I own, so I’ll just keep it till I can’t drive,” Gonzalez said.

For these classic car lovers, owning and restoring old cars is tradition—and one that they would like to maintain for their grandchildren and for other generations.


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Reporting from the Northeast Valley, Phoenix, and surrounding communities. State, National and International coverage- from the campus of Scottsdale Community College.
Hot Rod restoration, tradition over trend