Grinding Gears With Jeff Beck

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Jeff Beck (Photo by Ross Halfin)

Jeff Beck is an unabashed hot rod enthusiast. But rather than be the kind of rock star who just drops a ton of coin on a muscle car, he’s far happier rolling his sleeves up and getting his hands dirty. Having gotten an early taste for his future hobby after seeing 1958 b-movie Hot Rod Gang, Beck would later make his initial deep dive into this world when he started making money with The Yardbirds.

It was then that he proceeded to buy his first car—a 1963 split-window Corvette that he still owns to this day. Such is his passion that he spent more of the 1980s in his garage than he did recording music, a fact covered in the most-excellent 2018 documentary Still On the Run.

The following are a trio of his favorite autos.

1963 split-window Corvette Sting Ray (Photo by Alf van Beem)

1963 split-window Sting Ray Corvette

“I’ve got two of these. Street rods are part of rock and roll life. In 1955, when the military came back from various places and wars, they wanted the highs and thrills. If you look at any good documentary, they wanted to keep the high going. What do you do when you’re faced with death? And they knew mechanics—they were trained mechanics. And they’d go straight down to the local wrecking yard and get a V-8 engine, hop it up and stick in into a [chassis] and then go out on the salt flats and kill themselves. That’s what they did and they ended up with street culture.”

2014 Land Rover (Photo by Vauxford)

2014 Land Rover

“That’s my work horse. It will go through any field. You can turn off the road and go across a 100-acre plot. That’s outside the hot-rod camp.”

1932 Ford Model B Roadster (Photo by Sicnag)

1932 Ford Roadster

“The 1932 Ford is the iconic street rod. I’ve got a graffiti, lookalike car that I built, which I wouldn’t let go. That would be the first one I would push out in case of a fire. The chopped look was done for a reduced frontal area, so they’d go faster. That became a fashion statement, so they’d start lowering the roof of the street rods. And that’s where that came from. It was done for speed, but it looks cool.”

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In addition to being editor of Garden City Life and Syosset-Jericho Tribune, Dave Gil de Rubio is a regular contributor to Long Island Weekly, specializing in music and sports features. He has won several awards for writing from Press Club of Long Island (PCLI).

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