Since we’re celebrating one of the greatest annual drag racing events this week – the California Hot Rod Reunion – we found ourselves reminiscing about the little lot under the scoreboard down at the traps-end of the track. This is where the who’s who of the hot rod revival scene in the ’90s would hang out, which meant it was where the greatest collection of revival hot rods could be found. Well, found outside of a car show, anyway.
Two things could always be relied on in Bakersfield on Hot Rod Reunion weekend: great cars at the end of the track at Famoso Drag Strip and Buck Owens at his Crystal Palace in town on Saturday night. One of the early revival car clubs of that era, the Choppers, was always well-represented at “Bako” – a bunch of young art directors, designers, film industry artists and So-Cal hot rod heavies who’d gotten together in Burbank, California, and started a car club. They shared a love of midcentury customs and hot rods and built some of the most iconic cars of the era.
Aaron Kahan – a Chopper who grew up with hot rods and art in the family – had a ’27 Model T coupe body just waiting for him to tear into ever since he was a kid. Which is exactly what he and the rest of his Choppers brethren did, and they did it on TV: The long-gone Rides show on the TLC network dedicated an entire episode to the club build of what became Kahan’s “Bad News T.”
The T is nearly exactly the same today as it was when the Choppers first built it on that show in 2004. “But,” you say, “that was only 14 years ago!” And you’d be right, but a lot has happened since then. We’ve seen brand-new wakeboarding boats wrapped in rusty rivet vinyl “patina,” sitting on trailers with red steelies and wide whitewalls at the SEMA Show, for heaven’s sake. To say that the revival hot rod scene has permeated just about every corner of popular culture wouldn’t be too much of a stretch. In many ways, the Aaron Kahan Bad News T is a very cool link between the core hot rod revival scene and the rest of the world. And we dig that about it.