Cruise nights aren’t anything new. The center drag gets roped off, the side pipes get uncorked, and the local roadsters, muscle cars and sleds idle up and down Main Street. It happens monthly in small towns across America. In fact, it’s so common it’s become a part of the American experience. So much so, that the local car cruise is as much an American institution as a hot, juicy cheeseburger, the Super Bowl and boiling the rear tires off your hot rod because some friends dared you to.

This weekend kicked off the weekend-long Temecula Rod Run, one of the largest shows in SoCal’s Inland Valley. Welcoming over 65,000 lover-lovers twice year to its Spring and Fall biannual events, hundreds of cherried-out ‘rods, sleds, bellydraggers, baggers, muscle cars, no-go showboats and lopey-cammed rails as they crowd the historic downtown.

We were asked, 'What's the difference between a 'hot rod' and a 'street rod.' Our answer: $100,000 dollars. The distinction between the two has never been more prevalent since the inception and eventual main-streaming of the rat rod. This low-slung sedan wasn't necessarily 'ratty' as it was painted - although faded and unkempt - and features some 'fancier' components, it is a clear departure from the Boyd Coddington custom street rods on display a block away.

Be it a big dollar street rod, a simple-in-satin driver, or a do-it-yourself hot rod, Temecula's Rod Run is a happy neutral ground for all pre-'74 street machines hewn from Detroit iron. The sleepy Inland Empire town welcomes the rodders with wide open arms two times a year - both in Spring and Fall.

Custom trucks are becoming an art form in their own right. While the finish might be satin, there's not a single thing 'rat' about this 'rod. The craftsmanship exhibited in this Fleetside pickup speaks for itself, particularly when you lean it close and examine all the details. The rich metal flake applied inside of the side beltline trim, the hand-crafted box for the air compressor, and the intricacy of the interior all speak to its artistry.

Last night’s festivities were preceded by a charity auction, which raised funds for charities including the Boys & Girls Club of the Southwest County. Friday night’s cruise-in was a slow procession of some serious old school iron. We were quick on the scene and caught hundreds of pictures and were wowed at some of the local talent. While the foot traffic was light, the car owners happily strutted their car’s stuff as they positioned for their spot for Saturday’s Show & Shine.

Every year the show accepts over 500 vehicle entries as well as welcoming thousands of automotive enthusiasts and spectators. The cruise fired off with plenty of fanfare at 5pm and ran until 8pm, where owners covered up their precious machines until the sun broke over the westerly mountains Saturday morning.

If the 'eyes are the windows to the soul,' then these headlights have novels to tell. Whether a scalloped and slammed '58 Buick Electra, a light and loose '57 Corvette, a bagged and brazen Fleetwood or a opalescent orange Eldorado, these chrome-ringed headlights were the expressive irises of some seriously gorgeous machines. We've included a metric ton of additional pictures in our gallery - see below - so make sure to check out the rest of the cars.

Amid all of the 'bellybutton' rides - y'know, the '32 Fords, tri-five Chevys, '65 Mustangs and first-gen Camaros - there was a large influx of custom trucks on tap at this year's Temecula Rod Run. Whether incomplete and patina-speckled rat rods, clean and simple drivers or really unique and wholly original, these pickups are long past their days of hauling lumber and helping move your friend's couch across town.

Remember, this was only Friday night's cruise-in. We're going to have a complete and comprehensive recount of the weekend's events as well as highly anticipated 'Editor's Top 10 Rides' that you're sure to love. We really mixed it up this time around, so if you're sick of seeing the same '33 roadster, you won't be disappointed. But if you're really looking for another '57 Bel Air to take top honors, well...sorry to disappoint!

So if you’re liking what you’re seeing, you’re in luck! We’ve got a whole lot more coming your way in the next couple of days, including a huge Editor’s Top Ten Rides that we hand-selected over the two-day event which is sure to stir things up. We really wanted to pick some cars that first, were not the usual fare that you’d find in the winner’s circle at your local car show, but also showed some serious know-how and ingenuity. Trust us, you’re gonna like what you see!