I think one of the biggest differences between today and years past is we now have an option, we can spend boat loads of money building something out of catalogs or we can build it as cars were built decades ago using passion and ingenuity. It's hard to compare today's car builder from one 40 or 50 years ago when today EVERYTHING is available from so many sources it isn't even funny. You don't have to make ANYTHING, you could open up a catalog or hop on the net and find just about anything you would ever need for your build, be it a fan shroud to a chopped top 32 Ford body.
Years ago a car was built from what ever you could find, and your passion and ingenuity. But there wasn't a choice, you did that or you played a guitar or grew roses, there wasn't a choice. So it's awful hard to compare the two eras.