By Nick Licata
The summer of 2023 is one for the record books. It was one of the hottest I can remember, yet while trudging through the heat, we also came across some of the coolest cars from all over the country, and they just keep getting better. When we started this venture almost three years ago, I was scrambling to find just the right style of cars that fit the direction of All Chevy Performance magazine. One reason was because we were just starting out and I had to rally the troops to report for duty. After years of working and building relationships in the automotive publication industry, I went with the best photographers available—ones who I have worked with in the past. It was all hands on deck as we needed feature cars shot as soon as possible. I can’t say that we settled for what was available at the time, but today there seems to be an abundance of hot rods and muscle cars that play right into the direction of this magazine. Man, those early days were rough, but everyone pulled up their bootstraps and we got the job done.
Now that so many cool cars are being built, it definitely makes my job easier, and it also helps me stay on the good side of the hungry freelance photographers. When they’re busy, they’re happy as that keeps food on the table. But one thing they absolutely hate is when I turn down a car because of one small issue I may have with it, whether it’s a car that lacks just the right stance (that’s common), a late-model engine that has an unattractive engine cover (or any cover, for that matter) or too much retina-burning chrome (yes, that’s a thing), or an interior that looks more like a living room than a performance-inspired cockpit. I feel that the interior of a car can look and be comfortable as long as it carries some form of racing or muscle car inspiration, not a place where cocktails will be served—although, the sight of red vinyl diamond tuck interior reminds me of some seedy dive bars I used to frequent back in the day. Those were some good times.
Most of the cars coming out of shops and home garages these days have been outstanding and are continuing to evolve, as the builders and owners are getting the details just right. It’s been said over and over that the wheels, tires, and stance make the car. A case in point is when you see an old, sunbaked car sitting on stock 14-inch rusted wheels wrapped in dime store tires—all different age, brand, and condition. It typically doesn’t get a second look, but bolt on a set of modern-sized, vintage-style, or period-correct aftermarket wheels and tires with the car sitting just right and suddenly a new personality takes over that same tired-looking vehicle.
I recently had a car presented to me that looked to have potential as a feature. It had great paint, a classic, vintage-style interior, and an attractive-looking big-block. The car had everything going for it except for one thing: the stance. Large gaps between the fenders and tires spoiled the car’s looks and its opportunity to be featured in the magazine. Now, I understand if a car is built as a concourse restoration, Day Two resto, or a gasser then latitude can be given to the stance as long as it aligns with the car’s build style. But if a car is being built as a badass Pro Touring, Pro Street, or street machine restomod, the wheels, tires, and stance must comply with the unwritten muscle car “code of ethics handbook” for the correct look. You in?
Sell all my “Firing Up” editions here!!!