At this year’s Viva Las Vegas, we saw pretty much every type of hot rod and customized classic you can imagine, and we tried to find examples of every style and trend on the scene.
Tires, tattoos, and tons of fun!
So what's hot?
There's some rare stuff...
Scallops aren't just for dinner
High-class to the hospital
Falcon right it's cool!
Primer is good
Paint's fine, too
When big isn’t big enough …
Not every Cadillac was pink...
Chop the top
The star of the show
Flames are hot
A long way from home
Long 'n' low
Showing its stripes
Fine in '59
It doesn't have to be perfect -- to be perfect
Our idea of a parking lot
Gonna buy me a Mercury...
As long as it runs...
Green with envy
What a drag
Large and in charge
The wheels make it
That's a wrap!
- What’s “rockabilly”?
- The fans
- So what's hot?
- There's some rare...
- Scallops aren't...
- High-class to the...
- Trucks too
- Falcon right it's...
- Primer is good
- Paint's fine, too
- When big isn’t...
- Special delivery
- Wingin' it
- Not every...
- Chop the top
- The star of the show
- Flames are hot
- A long way from home
- Long 'n' low
- Bombs away!
- Showing its stripes
- Fine in '59
- Flatheads forever
- It doesn't have...
- Our idea of a...
- Gonna buy me a...
- Frosted flake
- As long as it...
- Green with envy
- What a drag
- Large and in charge
- The wheels make it
- That's a wrap!
Cars and music naturally go together, and that’s the deal at Viva Las Vegas. It’s a huge rockabilly music festival held each April, and this marks the 21st year. Have a look at what the accompanying car show had to offer.
It’s a combination of blues, western swing, boogie-woogie and honky-tonk, and while its popularity in the 1950s was brief, it became a vital component in rock and roll. Artists like Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, and Eddie Cochran played it. Today, it has a fiercely loyal group of fans.
Many dress the part, many in vintage clothing from the golden era of 1940s and 1950s pin-ups. When they’re not inside listening to bands, they come out to pose with the cars.
To get into the show, a car has to look like it would have looked in the 1950s or 1960s – especially if a hot-rodder got his hands on it.
Edsel never made a Ranchero-style car, but that didn’t stop this one from being turned into a shop project in the 1970s – at an Oklahoma prison!
Paint is a vital part of customizing, and “scallops,” as seen on this Pontiac, are still a popular choice.
Before municipalities insisted on vans for ambulances, they were built by custom coach builders – who also turned the similarly-sized bodies into hearses (and sometimes, for small towns, one car did both jobs). This one’s an S&S-built 1959 Cadillac.
You see lots of trucks at Viva, and in all styles of customizing, like this International pickup.
Sometimes, the best paint is no paint, as on (or not on) this Ford Falcon station wagon.
Just because a car’s in primer doesn’t always mean it’s on its way to the paint shop. Many hot rodders leave it just like that.
This 1937 Ford wears its blue very well. Hot rodders often left off the hood’s side panels for better engine cooling, and it’s as much about the look as about the practicality.
If your engine won’t fit, there are ways to make it work.
There’s nothing that can’t be made cool – even delivery vans.
Just about everybody had fins in the 1950s, and Dodge was no exception, although it had unusual ones that didn’t make it quite to the back end of the car.
The brand is very popular with the custom-car crowd, especially since the cars are so big.
Just because a car didn’t originally come as a convertible, doesn’t mean it can’t dream about becoming one.
Viva Las Vegas is put on by Tom Ingram, who drives a 1958 Cadillac. Last year, for the show’s 20th anniversary, the car was commemorated as a giant cake.
Flames, a popular theme on hot rods, were originally painted on sides of salt-lake racers to make it look like the engine was on fire.
1920s and 1930s cars can look great when their fenders are removed.
This 1953 Chevy was driven all the way to Las Vegas from Calgary, Alberta.
Air or hydraulic suspensions are used to lower a car for looks when it sits, and then raise it to driving height when it’s time to go.
A “bomb” is a 1940s car that’s usually lowered but not chopped, and accessorized with options such as a visor. This one’s a 1947 Chevrolet.
Cars from the 1910s to 1930s often left the factory with plain pinstripes on their body or wheels. But then customizers, most notably pinstriper Kenny Howard – aka Von Dutch – turned the thin painted lines into an art form.
Many cars left the factory with enough chrome and style – like this 1959 Chevy – that customizers just add a few accessories and lower the suspension, and they’re good to go.
The quintessential hot rod – smooth, sleek, and stylin’.
Many cars are in various stages of restoration or customization, but their owners drive them anyway – and we think that’s great.
The show was held at the Orleans Hotel, off the Las Vegas strip.
Take one 1949 Mercury, chop the top, nose it (remove the hood ornament and other front chrome), lower it, and you’ve got a custom.
Metal-flake paint has a following among custom car fans, and quite often, it’s used only on the roof, and paired with a plain-painted body, or even one that’s in primer.
Automakers spend so much time making their new cars lightweight – they should take a page from this guy’s book.
This Chevy Nomad was originally in such rough shape that it would have been difficult to restore – so customizing it was the way to go.
Customizers often take off all the side chrome, but we like how this Buick still wears its portholes.
A “taildragger” is a car or truck with its front end raised and rear end lowered, so the back bumper just clears the asphalt (well, most of the time, anyway!).
The boxy trucks from the 1960s are really gaining in popularity with custom-car fans.
Whitewalls have been gone from new-car showrooms for a long time, but they’re still popular with the old-car crowd.
Pictures are great, but you really need to experience the cars, the music, and the fun of Viva Las Vegas for yourself. The 22nd edition will be held April 18-21, 2019 — be there or be square!