It all began with Big Daddy Roth’s fiberglass-bodied bubble-top hot rods, then by the late ’60s, radical TV and movie cars and full-scale, real-steel versions of popular model car kits. By the mid-’70s, and even through most of the 1980s, “hot rod show cars” grew increasingly outlandish, until a raft of fabricators were creating vehicles for the The International Show Car Association’s World of Wheels/Autorama show circuit that were virtually devoid of function. Many were practically undriveable, and some were quite literally non-runners. Few builders got more whimsically absurd than Steve Tansy, who built (among many others) Pool Hustler, this playable 1928 Brunswick pool table on wheels. Comparing the two photos above, the bottom photo is the older of the two, as the car was originally equipped with dually rear slicks and a small green windscreen that were later removed. The pool balls on the butterfly steering wheel were also removed, swapped out for pool balls that were cut in half and attached to the body in place of the original painted-on balls. As of 2010, the car was in the UK, in somewhat dilapidated shape.
I vividly recall seeing Hustler up close at a custom car show in the winter of 1977–78 and thinking, even as a 14-year-old, that it was an objectionable foisting of nonsensical stupidity, not even attractive in a day-dreamy, suspend-your-reality sort of way. As the years have passed, I have developed a more nostalgic fondness for the era in general, but not for the ridiculous cars.
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