Oh, the hot rod. Created by rebellious teenagers and free access to fields of wrecking yards, a cutting torch and the desire to outrun everyone else around them, the hot rod is the trunk of the performance automobile hobby, sprouting dragsters, street rods, salt flats racers, lead sleds, bellydraggers, rails, floppers, and – eventually – the rat rod.
Unlike the hot rod – specifically the street rod – with its candied paint, shaved door handles, billet engine brackets, and tuck-and-roll interior, the rat rod assumes no such polished appearances. When parked alongside another, the rat rod nearly attacks the street rod – both fundamentally and stylistically. Where the street rod pleas, “Worship me. Adore me,” the rat rod smirks, “Hey pal, got a problem?”
The appeal of the rat rod is not necessarily found in its outward appearance, particularly as the rat rod’s outward beauty is not measured by its multiple layers of metal flake paint, acres of highly-polished chrome or supple leather interior. Rather, the rat’s curb appeal is found in its complicated originality. A ’56 Oldsmobile with ’58 Impala tail markers and a Plymouth grille? The more complex and unique the better. It doesn’t have to be polished and pretty, but it does have to wield the utmost quality in fabrication.
Far more than a mere trend, like 22-inch rims or wheelie bars on street cars, rat rods are a whole new school of thought. Strong enough and carrying enough inherent momentum to launch a handful of monthly and seasonal publications, as well as small groups of followers in Asia, Europe and throughout the continent, rat rodding is just a style, its a lifestyle.
We found a list of amazing rat rod examples over at Speedhunters.com called the “Speed Hunters Award for Best Rat Rods of 2010.” While skimming through the pictures of all the winners, we were unsurprisingly wowed by the build quality, creativity and thought given to these machines. We’ve seen quite a strong backlash against these machines, particularly by the “billet and clear coat crowd,” namely those regularly accustomed to spending a mint on their hot rods.
No matter what the naysayers might cry, we here love us some rat rods and can appreciate ever aspect of rodding…well, except for dubs on muscle cars. That’s just plain wrong.