My brother and I were always fascinated by cars growing up, our uncle (whose 32 Ford 3 Window Hiboy is absolutely gorgeous) has always had hot rods and our mom has owned a vintage Chevy Corvette since before my brother and I were born. Like many car enthusiasts we’ve traveled to shows to admire classic beautiful cars, but had no idea that the ever popular car hobby actually started and gained popularity after World War II. I’m happy to say that hot rods are just as popular today as they were back then.
Nobody knows cars quite like “Car Crazy” host Barry Meguiar, who has been interested in hot rods nearly his entire life. His grandfather started the Meguiar’s car care products in 1901 and growing up as a “Southern California guy”, Barry has hot rods “in his blood.” A little over a week ago the United States Postal Service released their Hot Rods Forever stamp, and Barry was kind enough to join me from the National Street Rod Association East Plus Conference in Pennsylvania to discuss the new Hot Rods Forever Stamp, how his family got involved in the car industry and much more!
Candace Rose: Your family has been in the car industry since 1901. What inspired you to get into hot rods?
Barry Meguiar: “Well, I really didn’t have any choice, my grandfather started our business Meguiar’s back in 1901 in Evansville, Indiana. It happens that over half of all the horses carriage manufacturers were in Indiana and he wasn’t making car wax…nobody made car wax in those days. He made furniture polish. He was obsessed with creating a perfectly clear finish on black lacquer furniture. As it happens they started putting that same black lacquer on the horses carriages and people that knew about his products started putting it on the carriages and the furniture polish became a carriage polish.
And then in 1913 he moved out to Pasadena, California having no idea that 35 years later the car hobby was going to burst forward. The GIs coming home from World War II, they started coming back and applying what they learned in motor pools to their cars and getting increasing power and because of the aerodynamics of airplanes – during the war they kept making them sleeker and sleeker with less drag coefficient so they could go deeper into enemy territory to drop their bombs. It’s not a very tasteful thing to say, but what happens after the war is they said ‘we can do this with our cars. So they started doing this to the 32 Ford, that was the car of choice. When they did that I was just coming of age where I was interested in cars and I watched it all happen right around me. If you’re a Southern California guy back then you just kind of had it in your blood. There were car shows everywhere and cars were driving down the streets and then there was Hot Rod magazine that Robert E. Peterson created in 1948 and it featured more than anything else hot rods of course (Hot Rod magazine) and the 32 Coupe. I kept looking at those 32s racing and I said to myself at the age of 13 ‘I’ve go to have one of those.’ That’s the first car I can ever remember saying I’ve got to have one. I grew up with it and now here we are these many years later after hot rodders were criminalized back in those days for street racing of course.
We have drag strips now – drag racing is one of the great American spectator sports and hot rodders are now seen among the most patriot of all Americans. It came all full circle now, here we are with our U.S. Postal System honoring hot rods with a special series of collectible stamps called Hot Rods Forever. To me it’s like, ‘Can you believe it?’ It’s almost too good to be true, but it’s appropriate that they do that and recognize that the 32 Ford has been integral to our history to our culture and to really anything that makes America great. And it’s recognized all over the world. Wherever we go to car shows around the world there’s almost always 32 Fords cruising into the shows and the people driving them almost always have some form of red white and blue on them. It’s just a part of America that goes all over the world and gives a very positive impression of America, we can use that all we can get today.”
Candace Rose: You helped unveil the new stamps Hot Rod Forever stamps, can you tell us about that?
Barry Meguiar: “We officially launched the stamp. Last year they launched the collectable stamp series called Muscle Cars Forever, they had Richard and Kyle Petty come and assist them to do that, it was hugely successful. This year with the Hot Rods stamp, they called me and asked me if I’d come. I said ‘Really? Absolutely, count me in!’
Most importantly I unveiled the stamp, on the other side of the curtain side was the Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe who is a car guy, a lifetime car guy since before he was a teenager. He’s had all kinds of cars through the years. He’s passionate about what took place here the other day. A lot of Postal employees were here with their hot rods and so we had this great celebration – big flat screen, and big unveiling of the stamps, and I had the privilege of being a part of that. I never could imagine 30 years ago that hot rods would be so honored today, particularly by our postal system. And now they’re on these wonderful collectable stamps that are out for a limited period of time. I’m really encouraging hot rodders to go and buy these stamps as a thank you. We’ve been recognized now we need to say thank you to the Post Office for doing this and buy these stamps. They’re available on the internet, as well as they’re available at any Post Office right now. I say let’s buy these stamps in record quantities. I would love the Hot Rods Forever stamps to be the most purchased collectible stamps that the Post Office has ever brought out. That’s what I’m pitching for and again, to be a part of that, it’s a very special day for me.”