Minnesota's hot rod and custom scene has a vibrant history. The state's unique characteristics, including its long winter seasons that allowed enthusiasts ample time for creative projects, fostered a thriving community of car builders, speed shops, and racing enthusiasts.
- 1 Early Years and Regional Influence
- 2 Speed Shops and Automotive Culture
- 3 Racing and Drag Strips
- 4 Media and Publications
- 5 Hot Rods of Minnesota
- 6 Custom Cars of Minnesota
- 7 Custom and Body Shops of Minnesota
- 8 Concept Cars of Minnesota
- 9 Hot Rod and Custom Car Clubs of Minnesota
- 10 Car Shows of Minnesota
- 11 People of Minnesota
- 12 References
Early Years and Regional Influence
While California often takes center stage in discussions of hot rod culture, Minnesota's contributions were undeniable. WWII brought a lot of young men from all over the US together, and it really helped spark and spread the hot rod and custom movement after the war. During the 1950s, Minnesota emerged as a hub for hot rod and custom car enthusiasts. The state's winter months provided an extended period for car builders to work on their projects, producing numerous exceptional vehicles. Cars built in and around the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul were often of high quality, while the rural areas saw local builders make the most of available resources.
Speed Shops and Automotive Culture
According to Jeff Bloedorn of East Side Speed Shop, farmers and local builders often transformed their vehicles into custom creations, utilizing their ingenuity and resourcefulness to produce impressive results. " There were a lot of speed shops in the area in the 50s, so I feel a lot of stuff was readily available," Bloedorn told Sondre Kvipt of Kustomrama in August of 2023. Big Wheel Auto Parts was a local parts store, speed shop, machine shop, hot rod and custom shop. Porter Mufflers was also born in Minnesota, and Bloedron has heard many stories about Minnesota guys that left the state to go to California to start custom and hot rod shops.
Racing and Drag Strips
The popularity of stock car racing in Minnesota contributed to the proliferation of high-performance modifications. The drag racing scene gained traction in the early to mid 1950s, and the state boasted notable racetracks, such as Twin Cities Speedway and Minnesota Dragways. These tracks served as venues for showcasing both speed and innovation within the local automotive community.
Media and Publications
Despite the dominance of California in media representation, Minnesota managed to carve out its own space in the hot rod and custom scene. In May of 1958, the inaugural issue of Cars & Clubs hit the newsstands. Cars and Clubs, a Minnesota-produced magazine, captured the essence of the local automotive culture and highlighted the achievements of car builders and enthusiasts from the region. Ron Johnson's editorial column in the first issue provided valuable insights into the magazine's goals and aspirations, shedding light on its mission to spotlight the region's often-overlooked contributions to the hot rod world; "As you all know, the Upper Midwest is not yet an area of reknown in the hot rod world. There are certain centers in the southern states such as Cordova, Omaha and Sioux City where there is really quite an amount of action, but if it is reported at all it is done so, somewhat grudgingly by the east or west coast publications. This is where we come in. We will be on the spot, or in contact at Drag Strips, Car Shows and all the other activities that make up hot rodding. We will be reporting nothing but cars and activities from this area. In the past you rarely saw a car you recognized or saw any reference to events that you attended, you will see cars from your immediate area, or your association or club featured every month."
Another publication, Racing Wheels, focused on hot rods and racing and emerged as an early magazine in the scene, running from around March 1952 through 1954. These publications showcased the diversity and creativity present in Minnesota's car culture.
Hot Rods of Minnesota
Custom Cars of Minnesota
Bruce Rosengren's 1936 Ford Cabriolet
Jack Calori's 1936 Ford 3-Window Coupe
Sig Monson's 1949 Dodge
Bob Dofflow's 1949 Ford
Jerry Sullivan's 1949 Oldsmobile
Dave Hoytitya's 1950 Ford Sedan
Carl Szembrot's 1950 Studebaker Convertible
Bob Bean's 1951 Ford Victoria
Rodney Rice's 1955 Chevrolet - The Astorian
Paul Schneck's 1955 Ford
Norman Wesp's 1955 Oldsmobile
Marlyn Englert's 1956 Chevrolet Convertible
Forest Cutler's 1959 Chevrolet Impala
Norman Wesp's 1959 Chevrolet Impala
Jim Davis' 1963 Ford Thunderbird
Custom and Body Shops of Minnesota
Concept Cars of Minnesota
Hot Rod and Custom Car Clubs of Minnesota
Car Shows of Minnesota
People of Minnesota
Daniel A. Fox
Did you enjoy this article?
Kustomrama is an encyclopedia dedicated to preserve, share and protect traditional hot rod and custom car history from all over the world.
- Help us keep history alive. For as little as 2.99 USD a month you can become a monthly supporter. Click here to learn more.
- Subscribe to our free newsletter and receive regular updates and stories from Kustomrama.
- Do you know someone who would enjoy this article? Click here to forward it.
Can you help us make this article better?
Please get in touch with us at email@example.com if you have additional information or photos to share about Minnesota.
This article was made possible by:
SunTec Auto Glass - Auto Glass Services on Vintage and Classic Cars
Finding a replacement windshield, back or side glass can be a difficult task when restoring your vintage or custom classic car. It doesn't have to be though now with auto glass specialist companies like www.suntecautoglass.com. They can source OEM or OEM-equivalent glass for older makes/models; which will ensure a proper fit every time. Check them out for more details!
Do you want to see your company here? Click here for more info about how you can advertise your business on Kustomrama.