A hot rod is defined as “a motor vehicle that has been specifically modified to give it extra power and speed.” As manufacturers began to unlock the key of producing large horsepower figures in their engines, it became common practice for the factories to fit lightweight sedans and sports cars with the most potent engines possible and market them to a specific audience. These factory hot rods spawned an unofficial horsepower race between manufacturers, with engineers developing new ways to wring out as much power and torque as possible to trump their competitors. The availability of cheap gas enabled displacements to rise, and larger carburetors—or in many instances, the incorporation of multiple carburetors—further opened the window of potential to make massive leaps in power.
RM Auctions’ upcoming Auburn Fall auction will feature approximately 700 quality collector cars, featuring an eclectic selection of vehicles ranging from American classics to European sports cars, Detroit muscle, hot rods, customs, and modern collectibles.
Click ahead to explore eight American factory-built hot rods that showcase some of the best from the horsepower race of the 1960s and 1970s.