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Australian Hot Rodder #5 SNEAK PEEK

Saturday, August 01, 2015

Australian Hot Rodder # 5 is nearing completion and will soon be sent to the printers. We’re currently reviewing the colour proofs before giving the printer the go-ahead to print, but before we do we thought we’d let you see what you’re in store for when it goes on sale in the coming weeks.

The cover features Mark Koster’s stunning bare metal ’34 Plymouth. The Melbourne hot rodder wanted something different and we can only say that he more than achieved his goal with his beautiful old-style Hemi-powered Mopar coupe.

Featured inside is the first instalment of our story on pioneering hot rodder and publisher, Eddie Ford. We chronicle Eddie’s start in hot rodding way back in the 1950s, and journey through the adventure of building two of his best known and loved hot rods, his channelled ’34 coupe and the ’32 coupe he swapped for a ’33 tourer with American hot rodder, Fred Steele.

Peter Leech built his first hot rod, a channelled ’32 roadster, in the 1960s. He followed that up with this fabulous tribute to the movie, American Graffiti, with this beautiful ’32 coupe.

Dazzle was Charlie Pirotta’s dream machine. He worked on the ’56 Customline for 30 years, all the time adding to it as he created a unique piece of automotive artwork. Since his death the unique car has been to Canada and back again, and is now owned by John Gladwell, who remembers seeing the car in the 1960s.

Veteran Perth hot rodder Neville Anderson loves ’34 Fords, he’s owned dozens of them, and still has a few in his shed, but his favourite is the Dodge-powered five-window coupe he built in the 1960s and took to the first Nationals in Narrandera.

Peter Eames was never bound by the rule that says a hot rod has to be a Ford. His first hot rod, a bucket he built from a ’34 Chev tourer, is one of the great survivors having survived a fire as well as the ravages of time.

We haven’t forgotten drag racing’s place in hot rodding and look back at two of the great early drag racers.

It’s 50 years since the first National drag racing championship was run at Riverside in Melbourne and we caught up with Jack “Fizzball” Collins who told us how he managed to win the title at the wheel of a Holden six-cylinder powered rail.

Ian Bell and his mate, Alf Mullins, set the drag racing world alight in the early 1960s with their homebuilt Chrysler-powered rail.

Once the colour proofs are approved the printing can proceed and AHR #5 should soon be available.

To order your copy, click here, or phone 0409 705 062 now.


Thursday, June 26, 2014

Issue #4 of Australian Hot Rodder captures the essence of Australian Hot Rodding through in-depth features and great photography of some of the best hot rods ever built in Australia and the people behind them.


Peter Leech was smitten by what he saw in the American hot rodding magazines in the early 1960s when he was in short pants and still going to school. He built his beloved channelled ’32 Ford roadster while still a teenager, then rebuilt it, again, and again, and again. Read about this remarkable hot rodder and his ever changing roadster.


Bob Bowman has been building hot rods for almost 50 years and he remains one of the most innovative hot rodders in the country. His latest hot rod a remarkable handcrafted Model A tub is a classic example of his creativity.


Before the Model A tub Bowman was best known for the Peppermint Pirate, the Model A Ford coupe he first built in the early 1970s. It grew out of a bunch of leftover bits to become one of our most memorable hot rods.


Warren Wilkie wowed everyone with his super sanitary Model A roadster at the first ASRF Nationals at Narrandera in 1973. Today, he builds superb traditional hot rods at his rod shop in Toowoomba. We feature his stunning ’36 Ford three-window coupe.


Pukka road racers were shocked to the core when a couple of unknowns in a humble ’34 Ford roadster blew them away to win the 1934 Victorian Centenary Grand Prix at Phillip Island in 1934.


Tasmanian Don Langdon originally rebuilt his ’35 Ford Phaeton from a rusty relic into a much-admired beauty latest rebuild on his classic.


The cackle scene is big news in America where old rails are being dusted off and demonstrated with their old school fire and fury in front of appreciative audiences all over the country. Ross Preen is Australia’s King of Cackle with his ex-John Maher racer.


Old time hot rodders say the best Nationals were the first at Narrandera in 1973. We take a nostalgic look back a time when hot rod get-togethers were all about having fun.


Malcolm Mountjoy couldn’t believe his ears when he was announced as the winner of the first ASRF Nationals raffle car at the Narrandera nationals in 1977. He still has the car today, and it’s as sharp as ever.


Leon Birss a thing for Henry’s Model T. He turned one into a trophy-winning beauty in the early 1960s, and after a spell away from the hobby has built another.


New South Welshman Brian Keegan was drag racing before we had any drag strips to race on. He is truly one of our drag racing pioneers.

Click here to order AHR #4

Post-Free Deal

Thursday, March 13, 2014


In a great new deal we’re offering our loyal readers the chance to buy their favourite magazine and save heaps.

When you buy two or more issues of Australian Hot Rodder we’ll now send them to you post-free. That’s right, there are no postage and handling charges when you order two or more magazines.

That’s a massive saving of $12 on two issues, and it’s even more if you buy more than two.

To take advantage of our great offer go to or phone 0409 705 062.


Work on AHR #4 is nearly completed and we hope to send it to the printer in the coming weeks.

In the course of the last few months we have travelled far and wide and talking to some of Australia’s top hot rodders for the stories featured in AHR #4.

We began in New South Wales where were fortunate enough to spend a few days with Bob Bowman, the builder of the legendary Peppermint Pirate Model A coupe back in the 1970s.

Bob still owns the Pirate and we couldn’t resist shooting it for a feature in our latest issue, and while we were there we just had to shoot his latest project, the Deluxe A tourer, which graces the cover of AHR #4.

The hand-built Deluxe tourer is a masterpiece of hot rodding ingenuity and Bob gave us the inside story on how it came to be and the enormous challenge in building it.

Anyone who was at the first ASRF Nationals in Narrandera in 1973 would remember Warren Wilkie’s sharp Model A roadster, the one that won the prestigious People’s Choice award.

We also travelled to Toowoomba in Queensland to check out Warren’s latest creation, a brilliant red ’36 Ford three-window coupe.

The coupe is a stunning example of the traditional hot rods Wilkie builds at his Toowoomba rod shop and he tells us how it happened.

We not only travelled north, we also went south, to Hobart in Tasmania where we caught up with Don Langdon and his reborn ’35 Ford tourer.

Langdon built the tourer back in the 1970s when it won the Top Tourer trophy at the ’77 Nationals, but he has since given the beautiful red rod a modern makeover that makes it even more stunning.

The ASRF Nationals are big business today, but in 1973 when they were first staged the focus was more on fun than finances. We sat down with the people involved in organising the first Nationals, and even revisited Narrandera to see what those early Nats were all about.

Malcolm Mountjoy thought he was the luckiest guy alive when his name was pulled out the hat to win the ’23 T-bucket on offer as the first ever raffle car at the 1977 Nationals.

The Bendigo hot rodder still owns the car and it is as sharp today as it was the day he won it.

As well as those great features we also have stories on Peter Leech’s love affair with the Deuce, Leon Birss’s Model T fascination, Ross Preen’s cackle car, and pioneering drag racer, Brian Keegan.

To ensure you get your copy of AHR #4:

Click here to order AHR #4


Monday, September 02, 2013


Australian Hot Rodder has joined forces with The Rubber Connection for the official release of Issue Number Three.

AHR#3 will be launched at The Rubber Connection’s Dandenong shop on October 5 and all hot rodders are invited to come along and bring their hot rods for what promises to be a great day. Many of the hot rods featured in Issue Number Three will be there, including the ex-Graeme Blaby ’33 Ford coupe now owned by Mick Jubber, along with others that were featured in Issues Number One and Two. It will be a great opportunity to get your copy of AHR#3 and have it autographed.

The launch will run from 10.00 am to 3.00 pm at the Rubber Connection, which is located at Factory 6/355 South Gippsland Highway, Dandenong South.

For more information phone Jeff Cooper on 03 9799 1012 or Graham Smith on 0409 705 062.


Friday, August 02, 2013

Issue #3 of Australian Hot Rodder brings Australian hot rodding alive with great in-depth stories and fabulous photography of some of Australia’s best hot rods, drag racers and events.


In 1965 there was no faster hot rod in the country than Tony Mullen’s classic Ford Y-block powered ’32 Ford roadster. Mullen not only ruled the road in his little red car, but he was also king of the strip, winning the 1965 Australian drag racing title for road-going hot rods.


Graeme Blaby stunned the local hot rodding scene when he pulled up at the 1979 Street Rod Nationals in his traditional ’34 Ford coupe. Blaby was determined to live hot rodding the Californian way and the ’34 coupe was his way of doing it. Mick Jubber now owns the coupe and is committed to keeping Blaby’s dream alive.


When Graeme Blaby’s California dream faded he turned the clock back to an earlier, simpler time when cashstrapped young guys spent their weekends building hot rods and drove them to work come Monday morning. Blaby’s back-to-basics ’34 Tudor is his rebel yell against the billet movement. 


John English was a towering figure on the drag racing scene in the 1960s. The Victorian engineer/driver started racing a hot Mercury sedan at Pakenham in the late 1950s before going on to dominate the national drag racing scene for more than decade at the wheel of his ’32 Ford altered roadster.


Melbourne hot rodder Ern Harewood built one of the prettiest hot rods of the 1960s when he took a wrecked ’32 Ford Sport Coupe and turned it into a trophy-winning beauty he called Little Sport. The channelled Sport Coupe has been owned since the early 1970s by Maury Stevens who has plans to return it to the road.


Following the popularity of the Norm Grabowski-built Tbucket in the hit TV show 77 Sunset Strip T-buckets were all the rage in the 1960s and the Surf Buggie built by the Mitchel brothers in Melbourne was one of the best. We tracked the iconic hot rod down and inspired its new owner to get it back on the road after years gathering dust in his Melbourne garage.


Drag racing in Australia roared to a whole new level of professionalism following the tour by six American drag racers in 1966, which gave local racers a glimpse of what the sport could become here.


Mainlanders didn’t know what to make of Andy Morris’s wild Model A tourer when the lanky Tasmanian crossed Bass Strait for the first time, but they soon discovered there was much more to Morris and his Model A than quirky looks.


Geoff Kracht took a battered ’40 Ford Sloper and turned it into a sparkling show beauty in the 1960s, it was then left to gather dust until his son David gave it a whole new life as the thoroughly modern day cruiser we found when we went to visit him at his Blue Mountains home. 


Shows have long been a favourite way for hot rodders to show off the fruits of their labour in public. We trace the early history of hot rod shows in this country.


With no other hot rods for reference or hot rodders to talk to Peter Thomas had little to guide him when he built his channelled ’32 Ford roadster in the mid-1950s. Instead he turned to his road racing mates and the specials they were building for guidance.

Click here to order AHR #3


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Issue #2 of Australian Hot Rodder picks up the story of Australian Hot Rodding where AHR #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 Melbourne hot rod builder 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 1975 he jumped at the chance to own it.

In the years he’s owned it, Colin has twice rebuilt it, he’s also shown it, drag raced it, and used it as a daily driver. 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, together with a selection of some of great Deuce roadsters.


AHR publisher’s own ’50s-styled highboy Deuce roadster with all the traditional touches, like the Offy-equipped blown flathead, quick-change Halibrand diff, classic Guide headlamps, 15-inch Mercury steelies and big and little whitewalls.


Sydney hot rodder Kevin Daley vowed never to sell the channelled ’32 roadster he built way back in the 1960s, and he was as good as his word. Kevin’s daughter Leanne now owns and treasures the car, and why not, her first ever ride in a car was when she was driven home from hospital in the roadster after her birth.


Ray Sprague built his first hot rod, a ’34 Ford coupe body channelled over a ’32 chassis, in the 1950s, which was followed by a full-fendered, Dodge-powered ’32 roadster in the early 1960s. Today, he’s better known for terrorising the classic road-racing brigade in his home-built flathead-powered highboy ’32 roadster. Ray built the roadster’s alloy body himself using a home-built wheeling machine to create the curves.


Visitors to hot rod shows in the 1960s couldn’t believe their eyes when they saw the flathead-powered ’32 Ford roadster built by Manny Azzopardi and Charlie Buhagiar. They started with a ’32 Ford Sport Coupe and cut it down into a roadster, then channelled it and polished and plated everything in sight to create the stunning car that swept the show scene from its mid-1960s debut to its final outing in the early 1970s. After trading the car in on a new Falcon GT Azzopardi and Buhagiar lost track of their iconic hot rod, but AHR has traced its full history, ending with its current owners in South Australia.


Neil ‘Ned’ Kelly went against his father’s wishes that he buy a new Holden and instead bought an old ’35 Ford Coupe and began transforming it into a classic hot rod. Kelly successfully showed the coupe, drag raced it, and drove it every day through the 1960s. The neat coupe still resides in Kelly’s garage in suburban Melbourne.


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. Thomas dominated local drag racing, setting record after record and beating 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.


Twelve years ago when Leno Pirotta decided to build a new hot rod he wanted to build it just the way he would have done had he built it in the 1960s when he was a young kid chasing girls around Melbourne. Pirotta is best known for building the sharp ’39 Ford Sloper back then, but has stepped back into hot rodding after an absence of several years and has just completed the neat ’34 Ford highboy coupe.


Bob Keith came to Australia with the American team that visited our shores in 1966 for the Dragfest series and raced a stunning big-block Chevy rail. Years later, 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 stunning result.


Veteran Melbourne hot rodder Leo Spessott has driven his flamed yellow ’40 Ford convertible to every ASRF Nationals staged to date. Spessott bought the car in the 1960s and built it into a hot rod capable of transporting his family to rod runs.

Today, it’s a familiar sight at events all around Victoria, and the Nationals whenever and wherever they’re staged.

Click here to order AHR #2


Monday, September 17, 2012

Issue #2 of Australian Hot Rodder was launched in style in early September when hundreds of hot rodders descended on Pirotta Motorsport, the scene of the launch of Australian Hot Rodder last year.



Those who missed out on seeing the show-stopping Nailhead Buick-powered Model A Ford bucket built by Joe Pirotta and Charlie Caruana in the 1960s run at the launch of AHR Issue #1 were treated to a repeat running of the iconic hot rod.

To the delight of everyone Joe Pirotta did the honours this time when he started the ‘Crimson Pirate’ to demonstrate that the rumours that the car wasn’t a runner were unfounded. Just to underline that it was also capable of being driven the crimson and gold pickup was driven out of the workshop and down the road outside Pirotta’s factory.

They also saw and heard the awesome ‘Satisfaction’, the blown 427 cubic inch SOHC Ford V8-powered Cortina drag car, fired up, as well as a dyno demonstration.

The ‘Satisfaction’ name dates back to the 1960s when Joe and Charlie painted on the side of the 289 cubic inch Windsor-powered FX Holden they built back then.

Several of the cars that feature in AHR Issue #2 were also on hand. Colin Bates brought along his beautiful ’36 Ford coupe, which took centre stage on the workshop floor as the AHR #2 cover car. Ray Sprague was also there with his road-racing ’32 Ford roadster, so too was ‘Ned’ Kelly, who came in his stunning red ’35 Ford coupe, and veteran hot rodder Leo Spessott who dusted off his flamed ’40 Ford convertible for the day.

Also there to help launch AHR #2 were drag racing legends Eddie Thomas, who is featured in #2, John English, Jack ‘Fizzball’ Collins, and Jim Walton.


The highlight of a great day came when Eddie Thomas and Colin Bates were invited to cut the cake to mark the occasion.


Click here to order AHR #2

AHR #2 is in print

Thursday, June 21, 2012

We signed off on the colour proofs of AHR #2 last week and it’s now full speed ahead at the printer’s, so we reckon it’s time to give you a preview of what’s coming in the next issue.

With the ’32 celebrating its 80th birthday this year we figured we just had to make a feature of the hot rod icon. The ’32 was launched in Detroit in late March 1932, but it wasn’t until August that year that Australians were able to sample the Deuce and its hot new V8 engine.

Less than 2000 Deuce passenger cars were produced by Ford Australia, almost two-thirds of them were V8s.

When our budding young hot rodders picked up their copies of HOT ROD magazine in the mid-1950s the car they saw featured more than any other was the ’32 and that was the one they wanted. Overnight the ’32 Ford was the most sought after old Ford of all, and it still is today.

In the late-1950s Manny Azzopardi and Charlie Buhagiar were recent arrivals from Malta living in Sydney when they bought their first issue of HOT ROD and like so many others they instantly wanted a Deuce roadster.

The car they went on to build was one of the top show cars of the 1960s, winning a swag of trophies at shows between 1966 and 1972 when they sold it, never to see it again.

We managed to track Old Faithful down in its new home in South Australia, and shot it for our story on the great old car.

The famous Buhagiar/Azzopardi roadster is one of four Deuce roadsters featured in AHR #2, we also have stories on Kevin Daley’s beautiful channelled roadster, Ray Sprague’s hot racer, and the editor’s own highboy, but AHR #2 is not just about the ’32, there are also plenty of other great stories on hot rods and hot rodders.

Colin Bates has been building hot rods for a living since the early 1970s and is regarded as one of the best in the business.

One look at his stunning ’36 Coupe that graces the cover of AHR #2 is enough to convince you of his ability to produce great hot rods.

Colin believes that hot rods should be driven and there’s no better example of his commitment to building great driving cars than his ’36, which has won trophies at shows, performed on the drag strip, and done 150,000 km on the street.

Drag racing has always been a part of hot rodding, but never more so than in the 1960s when it was possible to race your everyday driver on the strip.

Back then Eddie Thomas was the ‘Big Daddy’ of drag racing with his home-built Chrysler-powered AA/D rail. No one did more than Eddie to promote drag racing and hot rodding in general until he retired from racing in 1968.

We tracked Eddie down for our story on this genuine Australian hot rodding legend.

With 152 glossy, full colour pages, AHR #2 also features stories on Neil ‘Ned’ Kelly’s timeless ’35 coupe, Leno Pirotta’s old style ’34 coupe, Leo Spessot’s flamed ’40 convertible, and the re-created blown big-block AA/D rail driven by Bob Keith, the captain of the visiting American team in the 1966 Dragfest.

Click here to order AHR #2


Monday, June 18, 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.


Monday, June 18, 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 >>
  • Australian Hot Rodder 07

    Australian Hot Rodder #07

    Featuring: David Murphy’s Deluxe Deuce, Jeff Cooper’s Trad Tudor, Ken Spencer – The Kerang Kid, Ray Ellis’ True Blue Tudor, Peter Warren’s Belly Tank, Stew Campbell’s highboy Dodge, … and lots more


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