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What Is A 'kemp' ?


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Hi all, I have a stack of old mags, Hot Rod, Rod & Custom, Motor Trend big pages and little pages that go back to the 1940s but have never seen a referance to a 'Kemp' in any of them!

The only reference I have found is in some 1980s Street Rodder mags.

Is/was it a 50s term for a particular kind of custom car or something newer?

Thanks, John

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Reportedly the word 'Kemp' is slang for a car or truck, any make or model. I don't know if this is true, I think it may have been a regional term and not used in the widely circulated mags. Usually, most people nowadays know it from the KKOA- Kustom Kemps of America. Here is a link to their history page

http://www.kustomkempsofamerica.com/history.htm

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Reportedly the word 'Kemp' is slang for a car or truck, any make or model. I don't know if this is true, I think it may have been a regional term and not used in the widely circulated mags. Usually, most people nowadays know it from the KKOA- Kustom Kemps of America. Here is a link to their history page

http://www.kustomkempsofamerica.com/history.htm

Acording to the KKOA site kemps are mentioned in the little pages of R&C! looks like I'm gonna have to read them a bit more thoroughly.

Cheers, John

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Man...that's right. How the 'ell'd you know that...in Idaho? They got Blues harps in Idaho?

Ramonesblues, pretty hip dude...hep, too. Not a lot of both...

I grew up in the S.F bay Area in the '50s and '60s,and was immersed in the hot rodding goings on at an early age, having three older brothers.When I moved to Idaho in '91, I was amazed at the number of hot rods running around here! And yes, we have blues,very big here.

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Well I have just found a reference, August 1956 Car Craft. Thats the earliest I have found so far, described as teen slang(The younger set :) not me anymore) and describes Augie Ozolins 52 Ford Mild Custom.

Well thats me satisfied, teach me to read my mags properly!

I originally asked this question as I have just finished one of the Albert Drake books about his time as a youngster in the 50s, one of the headings is 'We Never Called Them Kemps'

Thanks all for putting me on the right track, John

Edited by HotRodaSaurus
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Well I have just found a reference, August 1956 Car Craft. Thats the earliest I have found so far, described as teen slang(The younger set :) not me anymore) and describes Augie Ozolins 52 Ford Mild Custom.

Well thats me satisfied, teach me to read my mags properly!

I originally asked this question as I have just finished one of the Albert Drake books about his time as a youngster in the 50s, one of the headings is 'We Never Called Them Kemps'

Thanks all for putting me on the right track, John

Actually, Karl Kohler was the one calling them 'kemps'. (Karl was the writer that did all the funny stories in Car Craft and Rod & Custom, yes, when they were 'Little Pages'.) Just a couple of guys around San Jose, CA (my hometown) used the term: Paul Stanton used it, around '57 (he was born in '42) and Bobby Basilie, but Basilie was real 'uptown' with the slang...His '49 Ford was Z'd in rear, and 'A-Framed' in front, lower than a snake...it was "the Short". Some kids were walking around it one day, so Bobby yells: "Hey! Don't scarf the short, Root!"

We just laughed at Basilie with all his 'fad coolness'...but we all had hot rods. (Roadsters, '32 and '34 Coupes, some chopped/channelled Coupes & Sedans. We didn't call 'em rods..."Where's tour 'heap', Cory?" Or "your Iron". But we never called a full-fender an 'Iron'.

Paul and Bobby, in their infinite wisdom, never referred to 'Irons' as 'Kemps'. Kemps were lowered '46's on up ('Customs') The new '55 Chevys were NEVER called 'rods', 'kemps', or 'shoeboxes'.

My Mom called '49-'51 Fords "Crackerboxes", but the acceptance of the square Chevy was right around the corner.

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I grew up in the S.F bay Area in the '50s and '60s,and was immersed in the hot rodding goings on at an early age, having three older brothers.When I moved to Idaho in '91, I was amazed at the number of hot rods running around here! And yes, we have blues,very big here.

Wow, Dennis! I was from Santa Clara, Lincoln St. On any day after school, Lincoln St. would be littered with hot rods, parked 2 blocks up-and-down, in front of the Carmellite Monastery, across from Grandma's house...from '56-'63, God we did that for a long time!

The police hated us, the chicks dug us, the nerds feared us...the Bikers tolerated us, (there were lots of Triumphs & Harleys that got traded straight across for Hop Ups and vice-versa...

When the hot rods lost popularity, it was all about the drags! Gassers (street-driven & trailered) would line Lincoln St., pretty much the same guys that were there in the beginning...

I remember the day Sneaky came over in his Roadster-Pickup, and I ran in the house to show him the new AMT '40 Sedan! (no more 1/32 scale, we could now build in the "Big Scale" 1/25!)

Not all the guys built, but they flipped to see that nice fat '40 sedan body! And the accessories...Brand new then. Some of 'em started building models, and more of 'em wanted to do models of their own cars! Good times, then...

(I KNEW you had to be a California boy, Dennis...)

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