Modern roads experience is a déjà vu when mods and Hotrods are in the scene. Altering your ride was popularized shortly after World War II which eventually led to the raging races of NASCAR. The style of that time became a measurement of coolness when you arrived in a set of slick wheels. This need for ultimate speed was evident long before the days of sportsters. Images of life in the 1920’s will bring you to the bustling city of Chicago in an era of mobsters, fedoras and the rule of bosses such as Al Capone. In the business, cars played a large role in the success of their line of work. One of their primary obstacles was to evade the police or detectives who were hot on their trail.
Customization Before Hot Rods
There were limitations on availability of engine components in the 20’s leading to customizations that would bail the gang out in a pinch. Mobsters had a few tricks up their suit jacket sleeves to turn their everyday car into a getaway scheme. Among the lives of gangsters including Legs Diamond, Lucky Luciano, Bugs Moran and Bonnie and Clyde, it is Al Capone that took custom cars to the next level.
He had a penchant for Cadillacs and preferred autos that could blend into the scenery. He souped up his ride to match city police cars with a few alterations of his own request. While the other mobsters of the generation would realign certain factors to improve the performance of the vehicle, Al Capone turned his cars into a work of lawless art that was soon followed by both his peers and his enemies. Drop away compartments were designed to get rid of incriminating evidence on the fly and hollowed out trunks were set up to store other things they had in tow from the job they were on. Gun storage, police radios and a thick line of bullet proof glass got them ready for the unexpected. New rear windows were engineered to roll down with ease in the event they had to shoot from behind.
Bootlegging was one of the side endeavors of mobsters. Moonshine was prohibited opening a wide-open market to make some lettuce. The near Southern states were famous for making the drink. A cover of mountains, hillsides and trees made it easy to craft moonshine. The hard part was transporting the goods to the city for delivery. Mobs paid a pretty penny for bootleggers to transport the goods to their respective venues. Federal agents were charged with putting an end to the non-taxed crime.
The cars they drove had to be faster than a police car, take turns with ease and carry the weight of the moonshine without effecting efficiencies. Curved back roads and low light levels made it a defined challenge to meet. A few carburetor swaps, a V-8 engine either acquired or transferred and some inconspicuous tweaks gave bootleggers what they needed to complete their run. Hot Rods have made their mark in the automotive world. As we have sped into a modern arena, modifications are no longer kept hidden from the spotlight. Customizations are now considered a trade, hobby and even a symbol of status among car enthusiasts.