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Sunday, June, 2012

Hot rodding is largely regarded as being American, but it also has a long and proud history in Australia, one that is every bit as rich and colourful as the history of hot rodding Stateside. Now, with the launch of Australian Hot Rodder it is getting long overdue recognition.

Australian Hot Rodder is a new, premium hot rodding periodical dedicated to Australia’s hot rodding heritage with the aim of telling the tale of this exciting hobby.

Boasting 152 full colour pages, Australian Hot Rodder is jam-packed with great stories and stunning photography on the great hot rods, hot rodders and drag racers that have helped make it the popular hobby it is today.

People like hot rodding legends Joe Pirotta and Charlie Caruana who teamed up in the 1960s to build the Crimson Pirate, a highly polished and plated Model A Ford pickup that swept all before it at shows all over the country.

After sitting under covers for more than 30 years Australian Hot Rodder was able to convince its owner/builders that it should be the cover car for Issue #1.

Lynn Arrowsmith’s channelled ’34 Ford coupe is one of the most beautiful hot rods ever built in this country and we got Lynn to tell us the story of his coupe.

Hot rodders know Ray Charlton as ‘Mr Deuce’, and for good reason. Ray has owned more than 30 Deuces since he first discovered them in the 1950s, and we went for a ride in two of them.

Barry Fletcher thought he was buying a ’32 Ford roadster when he answered a newspaper classified advertisement in the early ’60s, but it turned out to be a 1930 Model A. Undeterred he built Henrietta, one of the most stunning of our early hot rods. Not only did we shoot Henrietta for #1, but we couldn’t resist Barry’s beautiful full-fendered Deuce roadster and shot that as well.

Drag racing has always been an integral part of hot rodding and Ash Marshall was one of the legends of the sport in the early years, becoming the first Australian to break through the 200 mph barrier. Ash now lives in Southern California and that’s where we went to catch up with him.

In a fitting tribute to Ash we also took Scorcher, his famous racer into the studio for a photo shoot. Scorcher was the car he used to go 200 mph, and current owner, Dennis Young, and George Bukureshliev have faithfully restored it to its former glory.

Other great cars to feature in #1 include Norm Longfield’s T-bucket and John Bowker’s timeless channelled ’34 Ford roadster.

We also look at the early days of drag racing, and a couple of the early hot rod magazines published in this country.

Read the full story in Issue 01 >>


Sunday, June, 2012

Issue #2 of Australian Hot Rodder picks up the story of Australian Hot Rodding where #1 left off, with 152 glossy, full-colour pages jam-packed with great in-depth stories and stunning photography of some of the best hot rods built in this country.

It starts with Colin Bate’s beautiful ’36 Ford coupe, which features on the cover. The coupe caught Colin’s eye when he first saw it in the late 1960s and when it came up for sale in the mid-’70s he jumped at the chance to own it.

In the years he’s been able to call it his, Colin has twice rebuilt it, he’s also shown it, drag raced it, and driven it daily. We chronicle the absorbing story of this true classic of Australian hot rodding.

With the ’32 Ford turning 80 this year, we reckoned it was timely to look at the icon of hot rodding in Australia; it’s history, its appeal to hot rodders, along with a selection of some of great Deuce roadsters.

Included are the Buhagiar/Azzopardi ’32 roadster that wowed show-goers in the 1960s, as well as the stunning channelled ’32 roadster built by Kevin Daley, the sizzling hot road racing roadster of Ray Sprague, and the new highboy of AHR’s publisher, Graham Smith.

Drag racing is now a high tech, big dollar sport, but back in the 1960s when it was just getting started here it was possible to race your everyday driver.

Back then Eddie Thomas was the king of the drag strip in his big, blown Chrysler rail. He dominated local drag racing, set record after record and beat all comers, and took the fight up to the visiting American team of drag racers when they came here for the Dragfest in 1966. Old ‘ET’ is still powering on as we discovered.

Bob Keith was the captain of the American team who visited our shores for that Dragfest series and raced a stunning big-block Chevy rail. A chance meeting between Keith and Brisbane-based drag racing writer, Lex Swayn, led to the idea of re-creating Keith’s old car. We went to Willowbank in Queensland to photograph the result.

In a feature-packed issue we also look at the new ’34 Ford coupe Leno Pirotta built the old way, we also chart the history of Neil ‘Ned’ Kelly’s well known ’35 Ford coupe, and look at the flamed ’40 Ford convertible Leo Spessot has driven to every Street Rod Nationals staged to date.

Read the full Issue here.


Wednesday, April, 2012

AHR Issue #2 is nearing completion with much of the production now completed.

We recently photographed Colin Bates’ beautiful ’36 Ford coupe, the car that will feature on the cover of AHR #2 and it looks spectacular. Shot against a threatening sky with dark storm clouds gathering in the distance the stunning white coupe shines.

Colin Bates' beautiful '36 Ford coupe 

Colin has been building hot rods in Melbourne for 40 years and his reputation for engineering excellence and build quality is renowned within the hot rodding community. A hot rodder at heart, Colin not only builds great hot rods, he is also regularly seen driving them at rod runs.

He first eyed the ’36 coupe back in the 1960s when a fellow member of the Sultans Hot Rod Club owned it. He bought it in 1975 when the owner’s life took a different direction and he’s owned it ever since.

In that time it has been rebuilt twice, winning top coupe at the Victorian Hot Rod Show in 1977 at the completion of the first rebuild. It has also been driven for much of that time, clocking up 150,000 miles in daily use, as well as being drag raced and displayed at rod shows.

Colin is a big fan of the ’36 and has honoured Ford’s original design by sticking to the stock appearance and retaining much of the original chrome and stainless trim, but underneath the Art Deco skin he’s used a 350 cubic inch small block Chev V8, Saginaw four-speed gearbox and nine-inch “Tank” Fairlane diff.

The full story on Colin’s Classic Beauty is featured in AHR Issue #2.


Monday, October, 2011

Australian Hot Rodder Issue #1 launched at Pirotta Motors with drag racing & hot rodding legends

Any remaining doubters who thought the ‘Crimson Pirate’ wasn’t really a runner were finally convinced when, to a stunned audience of more than 100 hot rodders, the classic hot rod’s co-owner, Charlie Caruana not only fired up the car’s nailhead Buick V8 but also drove it out of the Pirotta Motors factory and down the street.

It was the first time in 33 years that he’d driven the car, and the highlight of the function to celebrate the launch of the first issue of Australian Hot Rodder, but it was far from the only one on the day.

Joe Pirotta also fired up ‘Satisfaction’ his awesome blown 427 cubic inch SOHC V8-powered Cortina drag car to the delight of the assembled crowd. If that wasn’t enough he also ran up a 600-plus horsepower 351 cubic inch Windsor V8 on his dynamometer.

Also on hand to celebrate the launch of issue Number One of AHR were a number of cars featured in the first issue, along with their owners.

Barry Fletcher was there in his beautiful full-fendered ’32 Ford roadster, so was Ray Charlton who drove his well-travelled ’32 Ford highboy roadster down from Castlemaine, and John Bowker brought along his ageless channelled ’34 Ford roadster.

While the featured cars were the centre of attention there were dozens of cars parked around the factory that were also deserving of a look, cars like Leo Spessott’s flamed ’40 Ford convertible, Neil Kelly’s beautiful ’35 Ford coupe, Colin Bates stunning white ’36 Ford coupe and Peter McColl’s cool single-spinner Ford coupe.

Among the crowd on the day were many hot rodding and drag racing luminaries, like veteran Eddie Thomas and Jim Walton, as well as hot rodding legends, Miles Johnson, Peter Clara, John Lynch and Australian Street Rodding publisher, Larry O’Toole.

It was a great day that will long be remembered by those who were there


  1. It runs! Charlie Caruana takes the Pirate for a spin for the first time in 33 years.
  2. Barry Fletcher with his ’32 roadster.
  3. Joe Pirotta, Charlie Caruana and Sam Midgley. Midgley was responsible for the unique gold panel painting on the Pirate.
  4. Just some of the cars parked around the Pirotta workshop on the day.
  5. Drag racing legend Eddie Thomas tries on the editor’s ’32 roadster for size.

Accidental Hero

Tuesday, August, 2011

Norm Longfield never set out to build a stunning show-winning hot rod when he began the build of his ’23 T-bucket, but by the time he’d finished he had one of the most beautiful hot rods ever built in this country and a swag of show trophies

Read the full story in Issue 01 >>

A Cut Above

Tuesday, August, 2011

The hot rodding was shocked when in the 1980s Lynn Arrowsmith chopped his’34 coupe, considered to be one of the most beautiful cars built in the 1960s, but as he says he had always wanted to do it, he just didn’t know how when he first built it.

Read the full story in Issue 01 >>

Bee Keeper

Tuesday, August, 2011

Ray Charlton is known far and wide for his passion for the ’32 Ford. He has owned more than 30 ‘Deuces’ and still professes his undying passion for them. Over 50 years or more the veteran hot rodder has built, shown and raced more ’32 Fords than anyone else in this country, and shows no sign of moving into the slow lane.

Read the full story in Issue 01 >>

Buried Treasure Found

Tuesday, August, 2011

Few cars have had the impact that the “Crimson Pirate’ had on Australian hot rodding. Built in the early 1960s by Joe Pirotta and Charlie Caruana the Model A bucket swept the show scene on its debut, taking a haul of trophies everywhere it went. After it finished on the show circuit it virtually vanished, until Australian Hot Rodder found it buried in Charlie Caruana’s garage and convinced him and Joe Pirotta that it should be returned to the spotlight as the cover car on our first issue.

Read the full story in Issue 01 >>

Channelling The '60s

Tuesday, August, 2011

Channelling defined hot rodding in the 1960s. Young hot rodders all over the country were using the technique to achieve a lower, sportier look for their old Fords. When John Bowker built his classic ’34 roadster in the early 1960s it was only natural that he channelled it

Read the full story in Issue 01 >>

From The Ashes

Tuesday, August, 2011

In early 1969 at the Sydney International Dragway Ash Marshall blasted into drag racing history when he became the first Australian to break through the 200 mph barrier. Driving ‘Scorcher’, the ex-Leland Kolb AA/FD he imported from the US in 1968, Marshall ran a 7.66s pass with a top speed of 203.16 mph. Current owner Dennis Young and chassis builder George Bukureshliev have combined to restore the classic racer to its former glory.

Read the full story in Issue 01 >>
  • Australian Hot Rodder #11

    Australian Hot Rodder #11

    Packed with great features and stunning photography on new and nostalgic rods and customs. 

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    Australian Hot Rodder #10

    Packed with great features and stunning photography on new and nostalgic rods and customs. 

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