What is the best year ever for cars and why?

We put that question to the performance-minded people on Summit Racing’s Facebook page. Using their answers as a foundation, we’ve compiled a list of the Top 8 years in automotive hot rodding and performance history. Why? Because it’s fun to make lists. And it’s even more fun to attempt the impossible–like narrowing 100-plus years of automobiles down to the eight best. 

We’ll unveil the list over the next week or so. In order the make the list, a given year must have been nominated at least once by the readers. 

blue 1932 chevy sedan at a classic antique automobile car show

1932: Birth of a Hot Rodding Movement

It’s appropriate that our list starts with 1932, because in many ways, this is the year that helped launch the American hot rodding movement. Anyone who’s into hot rodding or racing–or even casually tinkering with cars–can point to 1932 as a landmark year.

1932 Ford Roadster Flathead Engine

After making automobiles affordable for the average American thanks to the Model T, Henry Ford helped make hot rodding affordable, too, with the introduction of the Model B and V8-powered Model 18 in 1932. The Model 18 featured the first appearance of the now-legendary Flathead V8 engine, which was the preferred powerplant of early hot rodders. Although other companies had more expensive 8-cylinder engines in development, the 90-degree Flathead was the first low-priced, mass-produced V8 engine–a true milestone in American automotive history.

1932 Ford Coupe from Summit Racing Catalog
(Image/Summit Racing)

Although the American performance scene really took off after World War II, gearheads can point to 1932 as the birth year of hot rodding. The 1932 Ford took on iconic status in American culture, inspiring the Beach Boys’ Little Deuce Coupe and playing a pivotal role in the film American Graffiti. It remained a popular choice for hot rodders into the 1960s, and the 1932 grille remains one of the most quintessential hot rod pieces today.

The Ford Flathead V8 also had a huge role in the birth of the automotive aftermarket. Companies like Edelbrock were founded in response to the public’s need to “hop up” the old Flathead during the days after World War II. Work on the venerable engine led to advancements in performance on other, later V8 engines.

America’s need for speed has been unquenchable ever since.

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Author: David Fuller

David Fuller is OnAllCylinders' managing editor. During his 20-year career in the auto industry, he has covered a variety of races, shows, and industry events and has authored articles for multiple magazines. He has also partnered with mainstream and trade publications on a wide range of editorial projects. In 2012, he helped establish OnAllCylinders, where he enjoys covering all facets of hot rodding and racing.