The Most Amazing Magazine for Passionate Car Enthusiasts

Did you grow up reading Hot Rod Magazine®? It’s not only the first magazine devoted to hot rodding, drag racing and muscle cars; it’s one of the most successful. The current subscribers total over 460,000.

October, 1949 Cover of Hot Rod Magazine

From January 1948, when Robert E. Petersen published the first issue, the magazine differentiated itself in the marketplace. One trademark was the elaborate, detailed pen-and-ink cutaway drawings appearing each month alongside the featured “Hot Rod of the Month” centerfold. These fantastic drawings let readers see cars from the inside out.

The artist behind the drawings was Rex Burnett, father of Brian Burnett, owner of Ferrari of Los Gatos. Rex became recognized as the pioneer of cutaway drawings after his “Rex Burnett Center Spread Hot-Rod Cutaway Drawing,” appeared in the September 1948 issue of Hot Rod Magazine®.

Al George & Ernie Pestana's Track Roadster published in Hot Rod Magazine June, 1949 - might be the first drawing Rex did for Hot Rod Magazine








Cover of Hot Rod Magazine, September, 1962Nov 1964 Cove of Hot Rod Magazine featuring Don Garlits - Dragster race driver


Bright Four Year Old Delights by Identifying Any Car

One could say cars were in Brian’s blood before he was born. His dad’s exceptional artwork launched Brian into studying them at a young age. As a boy, he’d ride around town as his dad pointed out roof slopes, fender and grille shapes, and explained to him how to recognize them. Later, family and friends would test Brian by providing a clue about a car and asking him to identify it. At four years old, he could usually tell them the year, make, and model. His dad would smile and say, “That’s my boy.”

When he was in elementary school, Brian would sneak downstairs late at night to watch his dad working at the drawing board as he listened to music by the likes of Glen Miller, Tommy Dorsey, and Fats Waller. Many times his dad had to “re-assemble” a car from black and white photos of individual parts, using only a pencil and tracing paper. Then he’d lay a sheet of vellum over the pencil drawing and use a technical pen to make the final ink illustration.

How to Draw Like Computer Engineering Software

Using an odd-shaped drawing board as a trick drafting tool, his dad drew cars in correct three-point perspective. Brian’s brother, John, a fine artist and technical illustrator himself, said their father’s drawing board duplicated the effect of a 25-foot wide drafting table.

When you look at Rex’s drawings, it’s hard to believe a computer, and 3D CAD software wasn’t used – but then again, it was 1948.

Rex Burnett drawing the Davis Devan in 1948

There’s no doubt his father’s passion for drawing automobiles fueled Brian’s desire to be in the car business. And, with cars in his life from the start, it’s no wonder he was awestruck by the sight and sound of Jim Kimberly’s red Ferrari in the summer of 1955. From that day on, he wanted to be the best of the best and fastest of the fast.

Ferrari seemed like a sure way to get there.

Do you have any memories or a story about Hot Rod Magazine®? Please share them with other readers here, or leave a comment below.

Did you know that Bill Harrah once had the number one car collection in the world? In the next post, a simple refusal drives Harrah to build a hybrid Ferrari car on his own.

Photo:  © 2009 Burnett Family / Personal Photo
Photo:  © 2009 Burnett Family / Personal Photo
Photo:  © 2009 Burnett Family / Personal Photo
Photo:  Insomnia Cured Here /
Photo:  Insomnia Cured Here /

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