Owning a hot rod is a labor of love. Work is never truly finished, and you’ll always be searching for more ways to tweak and enhance the object of your passion. Something that is sadly overlooked by many owners is the radiator. A standard, universal fit can often get the job done, but if you want the utmost, you should consider getting an advanced hot rod radiator. It can boost performance, enable you to sustain higher RPMs for longer stints, and improve the overall look under the hood. Nothing looks worse at a show or convention than seeing a meticulously crafted machine with a budget, universal radiator creating an eye sore right in the heart of the vehicle.
Choosing Between Heat and Fuel
Even in the most muscled hot rods, high-end radiators aren’t necessary for regular driving. It is the high-RPM driving of racing that demands a custom coolant system. Even if you don’t race, a high-performance radiator still has appeal. Running the engine at a lower temperature can reduce the risk of distortion and warping, and it can add longevity to engine components. For most hot rod owners, their love of the vehicle is enough motivation to drop the money on such a radiator.
As with all car choices, this comes with a trade-off. Performance radiators are often able to bring the operating temperature of the engine below peak efficiency. This means you’ll be burning a little extra fuel on every drive. The ultimate decision is between fuel efficiency and engine life. For most enthusiasts, it’s an easy choice.
Getting the Extra Cool
After deciding to protect the engine with a lower temperature, you have to find an effective hot rod radiator. The biggest question comes down to aluminum and copper. While mainstream manufacturers always opt for the cheaper aluminum, custom car owners debate the materials. Copper is a better thermal conductor. This gives it a high potential for better cooling, and many hot rod owners go that route. That said, aluminum’s lighter weight enables it to withstand more advanced designs. These more than make up for the difference in thermal properties, and in almost every case, aluminum radiators outperform their copper counterparts. This only becomes more true when the copper designs use soldered fastenings. The solder has a lower conductivity than the copper, and this negates much of copper’s inherent advantage.
Getting an advanced hot rod radiator is a simple process. Find the right fit and get to installing. You’ll enjoy the freedom of pushing your engine a little farther. Even better, you’ll appreciate the peace of mind knowing that your engine will last even longer and require that much less maintenance.