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Old 11-02-2004, 09:36 AM
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Rat Rod?

I'm not quite sure on this, but what exactly is a Rat Rod? my friend asked me and I wasn't able to give him an answer so now I'm curious.

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Old 11-02-2004, 09:41 AM
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A big block engine is called a RAT.

A small block is called a mouse.

Troy
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Old 11-02-2004, 10:54 AM
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That is true for Chevy engines Troy but Rat Rods are a different category. They are throw-back hot rods to the ones made in the late 40s to mid 50s. They can be painted primer but the best ones are not painted, the rustier the body the better, and vintage bullet holes and rust holes are the best of all worlds. A piece of galvanized steel screwed to the top with sheet metal screws is preferred if it is a coupe. There is NO interior, including floorboards and the only upholstery allowed is a Mexican blanket. 8-ball or skull shift nob is required. Wiring harness with twisted and taped connections hanging below the dash is a must. There MUST be some rusty bailing wire holding something on the body.

Suspension is totally rusty and joints must be built up with vintage cracked, hard grease. Must have a banjo rear end, STOCK I-beam front end (Mor-Drop heated and lowered axle is fine, after-market billet piece is definitely a NO-NO) and transverse springs. Also suspension must be modified for much lower stance and must have some globby, poorly done very rusty welds on critical components. Engines must have original faded factory paint and vintage oil runs. Flatheads, Chevy 6s, 50s Olds, Pontiac, Buick, Caddy, Lincolns, and even hemis are the proper engine choices. All aluminum like valve covers and intake manifolds must be oxidized and pitted. Tires MUST be old whitewalls, pie-crust slicks on the rear.

The appearance must be of a piece of trash death trap holding a monster engine. Go fast, all else is secondary!

At rod runs they always park in a group in a far corner of the show.














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Old 11-02-2004, 12:32 PM
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thanks for the info.
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Old 11-02-2004, 12:34 PM
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In short

A worn out, beat up, half dead looking rod with a built up, sweet running engine that will do some damage if messed with! all in the name of fun, not safety

Also what he said ^
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Old 11-02-2004, 03:33 PM
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Could you say, that a "Rat Rod" is the lazy mans street rod?


I like the "look" but it has to stop as well as go, and be safe.
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Old 11-02-2004, 04:39 PM
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I think its for people who are more interested in the 'GO' rather than the 'SHOW' sort of an "anti-bling", the complete opposite of a lowrider.
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Old 11-02-2004, 06:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by poncho62
Could you say, that a "Rat Rod" is the lazy mans street rod?


I like the "look" but it has to stop as well as go, and be safe.
No, it's a nostalgia thing. Guys coming back from WWII and Korea had a few $$ saved up, exposure to hot machinery and a tech education in the military and came home to built GO machines. Rat Rods are what hot rodders were driving in the 50s and what gave hot rodding a bad name then. Us oldsters are just trying to recall the good old days.
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Old 11-02-2004, 07:41 PM
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rat rods

i sure do like the look. i also believe it's possible to build one that's safe & has good workmanship as i'm sure some are. i'm really tired of small block chevies, 700R4s',all kinds of billet aluminum stuff, 9" ford rears, mustang II frontends( or aftermarket copies) & last but not least all those weird looking wheels out nowadays.
one of the things i enjoy about this site, is that some of you are able to think "outside of the box". most of you guys seem to be doing what i am & are modifying original parts or adapting parts you found in the junkyard. i don't think the guys in the rodding magazines know we exist. of course all the ads from the producers of all those aftermarket parts support them don't they? oops! sorry for preachin'!
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Old 11-02-2004, 10:31 PM
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awesome my truck is on its way to being a rat rod
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Old 11-02-2004, 11:58 PM
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How old I really am

40 odd years ago the what you now call a rat rod what what we built..all the parts were scrounged from the local scrap yards and some farmers barn...put together somewhat like you see..

Did we pay attention to things like brakes and steering and such..yeah we did the best we could do with what we had at the time..

Then there were the "sled guys" these were the cars with nice paint...chrome and interiors..the if it don't go chrome it crowd..Grinn..

Of course if someone had a 57 Bel-Air he was part of the in-crowd probably the doctors son or someone like that..

Paint was plain laquer or enamel..what you could do in your driveway..as long as it was shiny and no runs it was fine...Guys saved up and made the trip to TJ to get some nice threads installed..

Just about every thing was done at home on your own time..very few speed shops..billet was practically non-existent outside of the Oakland roadster show..and some of the great well known Show cars of the time..

Yeah takes me back to my roots and I will always have a special place for these cars..

And as far as recreating the type of car..sure put some good brakes and steering on ...a roll bar setup..some kind of hot motor..no going crazy over the paint..and forget the electronics and such..A good handling good performing car can be done that keeps the flavor of what we did back then..

Oh yeah..brings back the memories..
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Old 11-03-2004, 01:41 AM
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And this one that someone in the forums posted - I like it!:

1934 plymouth hot rat rod truck

http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/ws/eB...I.dll?ViewItem
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Old 11-03-2004, 07:22 AM
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thanks to the rest of you guys too.
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Old 11-03-2004, 01:30 PM
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One minor addition to all the good answers above. The word "rat" in rat rod comes from the very derogatory 1950's term "ratty" which we teens applied to any car that had started to rust out, had messed up paint or partially finished body work, a torn up interior, or other unsightly blemishes of one sort or another. It could also apply to a rough running engine as is, "Oooo man does that thing sound ratty."

The term "ratty" was actually an offshoot of an even older term "rattle trap" which referred to cars of the 20' and 30's which could literally vibrate themselves into a pile of roadside debris.

Rat or ratty has now taken on a much more affectionate connotation as we link today's nostalga rods with that period in our lives when none of us ever had enough money to finish our cars so we almost all drove rat rods. NOT by choice, however.

Dewey (Lived then...done that)
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Old 11-03-2004, 02:29 PM
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All of the things mentioned above are pretty much dead on from what I've heard.

But to me, a rat-rod represents freedom and easier times. I wasnt around back in the 50's and 60's, but I sure wish I was. Rat Rods were built by people who worked their butts off and yet didnt have enough money for their rides. They used whatever they had and whatever they could use. This is were cleverness played a big role. They were rough looking rides built for mainly one ONE reason: speed. Get your motor runnin, head out on the highway and gun her. Safety wasnt as big of an issue back then as now. They didnt buy their parts from edelbrock or summit, they scrounged the local junkyards for many hours looking for that one perfect length driveshaft, or that one 6-carb intake. They put their ride together by skill and not by money. If it didnt work they made it work. THey put blood, sweat, tears and sacrifice into their machines. To me a rat rod has sould. Nowadays a lotta people pay a paintshop to paint their car (nothing wrong with that) or have someone else install the engine and tranny, uhpholstery, and fabricate a custom made chasis. There's nothing wrong with that, in fact, if you can afford it, you're better off letting the pros do it. But regular Joes DONT have the money to build a high-end rod or pay someone else to do their work, or buy brand-new parts. So they get dirty and do it themselves. Did they know what they were doing? Sure some knew, but if they didnt, they learned how to. My uncle built his first rod when he was 15. No interior, no paint, an ole Buick V8 in a 47 Plymouth, no brakes, just a BARELY running motor. He only drove it up and down his street many many many times. But he had the most fun with that car. He sold it later when he was 17 for a very cheap price but for a 17 year old it was much. He regrets selling that car untill today still. Also rat rods are daily drivers, they see mud, dirt, rough conditions and abuse on a daily basis. Most of them dont get trailered around and require constant maintenace.
The term "rat rod" has kinda become too popular nowadays. People like Scotts Hot Rods and other build rat-rods for a lotta money but make it look like Nostagia and Rust. That kinda defeats the purpose. I like to use the term "traditional hot rod" because that's all it is. Rat rods are the roots of hot-rodding. They are the ones that started this whole thing.
A lot of them are flat black because that's all guys in the 50's, 60's could afford. Often times just painted with rattle can. Looks are the last thing that comes to mind in a rat rod. Speed is all and at a cheap price.
That is my perception of a "rat rod". Each to his own.



Mike
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