Green’s Dictionary of Slang

hot-rod n.

[hot adj. (2d) + SE piston rod]

1. (US) an aggressive, unruly young man.

[US]R. Chandler ‘Finger Man’ in Pearls Are a Nuisance (1964) 98: Hell! You’re the guy that put the bee on that hot rod.
[US]E. De Roo Go, Man, Go! 44: It’s just an act with him. It’s for real with you only, Hot Rod.
[US]J. Ellroy Brown’s Requiem 233: ‘Onward, Hot Rod,’ I said.
[US]R. Price Clockers 547: Yeah, old Hot Rod. The guy’s probably looking at three and a half in.

2. (also hot iron, hot-up, rod) a car modified for speed and flashiness.

[US]L.A. Times 31 May 5/2: My brother was barreling around in a hot rod (that’s a cut-down car) and I thought that was the thing to do.
[US]Life 5 Nov. 87: A ‘hot rod,’ also called a ‘hot iron,’ or a ‘hot-up’ or ‘gow job,’ is an automobile stripped for speed and pepped up for power until it can travel 90 to 125 mph.
[US]W. Brown Monkey On My Back (1954) 183: They got hold of some hot rods and smashed them up.
[US]Kerouac On The Road (1972) 77: A burly blond kid in a souped-up rod.
[US]J. Rechy City of Night 138: I remember her drivin it into that ole town like she was in a hotrod!
[US]E. Bunker No Beast So Fierce 110: Didn’t you like hot rods when you were young?
[US]S. King Christine 139: I heard some kid’s rod peeling rubber.
[Aus]J. Byrell (con. 1959) Up the Cross 76: He used to drive hotrods, which he’d souped up himelf.
[US]Tarantino & Avery Pulp Fiction [film script] 53: ext. vincent’s hot rod (moving) — night.
[Aus]P. Temple Black Tide (2012) [ebook] You brought me out in the appalling conveyance, this hot rod, for sweet bugger all.
[US]J. Franzen Corrections 287: Your blue-collar ball-scratchers with their hot rods and beer belches.
[US]T. Pluck Bad Boy Boogie [ebook] ‘[T]hat loud-ass hot rod of yours’.
[US]J. Ellroy Widespread Panic 191: I saw three hunky hot rods [...] Kool kandy-koat kolors.
[UK]J. Meades Empty Wigs (t/s) 380: ‘The Sunday surgeon’s hobby was reconditioning hotrods’.

3. attrib. use of sense 2.

[US]Kerouac On the Road (The Orig. Scroll) (2007) 118: A hotrod kid came by with his scarf flying.
[UK](ref. to 1964) K. Richards Life 159: When we first got to America [...] there was a lot of Beach Boys on the radio [...] hot rod songs and surfing songs.

4. see rod n. (1)