It's the Vogue of fashion, the Sports Illustrated of athletics, the Rolling Stone of music.
Open the latest issue of Hot Rod magazine, and turn to page 74.
The familiar faces of El Toro High School students—clustered around a green van missing its roof and most of its floor—peek out from a photograph in a spread about the resurgence in popularity of vans, the counterculture's answer to hot rods.
The 40-odd members of El Toro High's advanced auto shop class from the recently concluded school year, pictured with a 1964 Chevrolet chopped rat rod van the students worked on during the year, was an unexpected treat for the self-described van enthusiasts.
When an editor from Hot Rod magazine saw the van at a show in Southern California, ETHS auto shop teacher Casey Moir recalls, he wanted to know if high schoolers were interested, once again, in the old-school rat rods. When he visited El Toro High's auto shop, he got his answer.
On the magazine's website, the tease to the story says it all: "... like it or not, the van craze never left some guys and is catching on again."
That craze has clearly swept up the car-crazy high schoolers who, led by Moir, have taken back the stripped-down, minimalist beaters as their own.
"There's nothing like it," said 18-year-old Jarlin Debolt, now a newly minted El Toro High graduate. "It's one of a kind."
The 1964 Chevy's engine in the back of the van, which has no interior seats or upholstery. The van is chopped—no roof or floor—and pinstriped by El Toro High's Sam Sonnenfeld, 18, another June graduate.
The van's appeal is evident at a visceral level, the students say.
"It just looks cool," said Britney Collins, 16.
Whether they hit the road for a big car show in Santa Ana or tool on over to the weekly car gathering outside of Fuddruckers on El Toro Road, they provoke the same response.
"Everyone makes a beeline for it," said another recent grad, El Toro High's Alan Mitchell, 17.
Appearing in the magazine was a rush for the students, who are obviously passionate about cars.
"It's a big deal," said Alex Durham, also 18. Moir likened the experience to having a youth soccer team show up in the pages of Sports Illustrated.
Want to see the van up close? Stop by Cars and Coffee, the weekly early-morning car show in Irvine where Moir frequently takes it, to the admiration of enthusiasts and the bewilderment of some of the luxury-car owners in attendance.
"There will be Lamborghinis, Ferraris ... everyone just wants to see the rat rod," Moir said.
Editor's note: You can watch Moir drive the van in this (extremely loud) YouTube video.