70 years ago a former football star and World War II veteran changed car culture. It was 1947 and Californian Bob McGee rolled his freshly built 1932 Ford out of his garage to stun the hot rodding world.
In profile the McGee Roadster cuts a beautiful, sleek and slick profile.
While hot rods had been around since the mid-1930s the “McGee Roadster” was different as the body was shaved and slicked down – door hinges were modified to sit inside the bodyline, and even the radiator cap was shaved off with a custom character line put in its place.
The rear of the chassis was modified to allow the back of the car to sit lower. Basically, this car had STYLE, and it quickly became the posterchild of what everyone wanted their hot rod to look like.
It was seen everywhere, from the cover of Hot Rod Magazine (a huge deal at the time), to TV shows, movies and more. While the car’s mechanical parts were upgraded in the ensuing decades, and it even changed colours, the overall style and design remained the same, cementing its legend as one of the all-time greatest-designed hot rods.
In 2017, 70 years after it was built, the McGee Roadster was recognised by the Historic Vehicle Association as the most culturally significant hot rod ever built, with the iconic ’32 Ford being listed on the National Historic Vehicle Register.
Given hot rodding was an American invention and a hobby that cuts to the very core of post-WW2 American culture, this is quite an achievement.It would literally takes us tens of thousands words to fully document the McGee Roadster’s epic history… or you could watch this epic documentary on the car and its utterly amazing history.
The McGee Roadster was one of three vehicles recognised for their impact on American automotive culture, the other two being the Gypsy Rose 1964 Chevrolet Impala lowrider, and the 1952 Mercury built by Sam and George Barris, known as the “Hirohata Merc”.
All three cars were put on display on the National Mall in Washington DC over April, 2017.
Bob McGee on the cover of Hot Rod Magazine, 1948
Photos and video courtesy of the Historic Vehicle Association.
G'day guys, my name is Iain but most people know me as "Marv", mainly because it is easier than explaining why my parents spelled "Ian" with two i's. I'm a journalist from Sydney, Australia who loves cars, dogs, making "things" and spinning yarns. The real thrill for me, however, is the story behind the object or person. I have a background in automotive journalism across vehicles new and old, stock, modified, and hand-built, and I love the whole process of making magazines. I am also a fan of diving into history and discovering the amazing things humans have done in the past. This blog will tell the tales of rad people who make cool stuff.