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The term “Hot Rod” has several meanings, but universally it describes a modified car. As a practice, it’s evolved over the decades and now can be applied to almost anything. If you change to a different set of wheels, though, that’s not exactly creating a hot rod. Changing the wheels to tank tracks, however, could be considered hot rodding. The idea isn’t to make the car objectively better but to make it your own. Here are just a few examples of modern hot rods.

Gregg Hamilton’s AWD 1971 Pontiac Trans Am hot rod

1971 Pontiac Trans Am parked trackside
1971 Pontiac Trans Am parked trackside | Larry Chen/Hoonigan

Ken Block’s lead mechanic Gregg Hamilton did something drastic. He took a 1971 Pontiac Trans Am and spliced it with several Nissans. Up front, it’s all GM. It has a supercharged 5.3-liter Chevrolet truck engine with upgraded internals. Underneath and toward the back is all Nissan. Engine power from the 5.3 goes to all four wheels via a modified version of Nissan’s ATTESA (Advanced Total Traction Engineering System for All-Terrain). It’s a computer that controls how much rear-bias to give the drivetrain. Hamilton mated it with an Infiniti Q45 front differential and a 300zx rear differential. In other words, Hamilton created the “Frankenstein’s monster” of muscle car hot rods. 

1969 Porsche 912 with Tesla guts

Earlier this month, Omaze gave away a 1969 Porsche 912. It was a 100-hp rear-engine rear-drive coupe from the factory, but Omaze gave away something entirely different. This particular Porsche 912 was an electric hot rod. The good people at Zelectric gave it a Tesla powertrain, providing 300 horsepower and delivering the car to 60 mph in 5.5 seconds. When the folks over at Petersen Automotive Museum got a hold of it, they fitted Bilstein shocks, restored suspension and steering components, new brakes, Recaro seats, and a Bluetooth audio system.

Sweden’s very own Meteor Interceptor hot rod

Meteor Interceptor
Meteor Interceptor | Komet Foto

The Meteor Interceptor is a hot rod that hails from Sweden. It’s a Ford Crown Victoria from California, but instead of using the Ford 4.6-liter, it’s got a 27-liter overhead-valve Rolls Royce Meteor V12 engine under the hood. Meteor engines were used in British Cromwell tanks during World War II and made 600 horsepower in the final iteration. 

The Meteor is also a close relative of the Rolls-Royce Merlin engine, used in British Spitfire fighter planes in World War II. From the Meteor Interceptor’s Instagram account, you can see extensive chassis modifications were made to accommodate the massive engine. It cuts right through where the original firewall used to be, and they’ve outfitted it with two big turbos. 

It’s not as impossible as you think

These are extreme examples of what’s possible with hot rodding. The Trans Am was built with junkyard parts, while the Tesla drivetrain is readily available for purchase. American car manufacturers make it simpler by providing crate engines and transmissions. Even Ford provides an all-electric crate engine. Electrification seems to be a common avenue hot-rodding takes these days, but the gas engine isn’t dead yet.


Inspiration: Let’s All Run 12-Cylinder Tank Engines in Our Cars Like This