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Flatheads and early hemis have not entirely disappeared, but ready availability, ease of maintenance, and low cost of parts make the Chevrolet V8, in particular the first and third generation small block, the most frequent engine of choice.Once customizing post-war cars caught on, some of the practices were extended to pre-war cars, which would have been called fendered rods, with more body work done on them.A development of hot rodding, the change in name corresponded to the change in the design of the cars being modified.The first hot rods were pre-World War II cars, with running boards and simple fenders over the wheels.Flame jobs later spread to the hood, encompassing the entire front end, and have progressed from traditional reds and yellows to blues and greens and body-color "ghost" flames.One particular style of flames, called "crab claw flames", which is still prevalent today, is attributed to Dean Jeffries.More recently, Juxtapoz Magazine, founded by the artist Robert Williams, has covered Kustom Kulture art.
Although the two are related, custom cars are distinct from hot rods.
Sometimes the grille of one make of car replaced by another; the 1937 Buick grille was often used on a Ford.
In the 1950s and 1960s, the grille swap of choice was the 1953 De Soto.
Painting has become such a part of the custom car scene that now in many custom car competitions, awards for custom paint are as highly sought after as awards for the cars themselves. Once, the flathead, or "flatty", was the preference, supplanted by the early hemi in the 1950s and 1960s.
By the 1970s, the small-block Chevy was the most common option, and since the 1980s, the 350 cu in (5.7 l) Chevy has been almost ubiquitous.