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Duck Tape & WD 40
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Discussion Starter #1
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.:confused:
 

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Shop Owner And Troll Hunter
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A big block engine is called a RAT.

A small block is called a mouse.:sweat:

Troy
 

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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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stuff'n things'n whatnot
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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 :thumbup:

Also what he said ^
 

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stuff'n things'n whatnot
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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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poncho62 said:
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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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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Hotrodders.com moderator
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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..:thumbup:
 

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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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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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Mike; your post is a breath of fresh air. For being so young, you got it 10000% right! However, it wasn't just economics that resulted in the original hot rod movement being DIY, rough hewed masterpieces. Actually, young adults had pretty good incomes back then, there just wasn't ANY after-market, and not even not much of any hot rod technology back then. These guys didn't buy their parts from Edelbrock, Weiand, Iskenderian, etc., they WERE Edelbrock, Weiand, Iskenderian, etc.!

There is a huge gulf between hot rodding and street rodding. The latter is a recent development and consists of super slick modern cars with old looking bodies. True hot rods are still the result of some guy working in his shop and hand building a machine from whatever he can find. May be summit parts but may just as likely be junk yard parts. A true hot rodder knows EVERY part on his car intimately!
 

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[email][email protected][/email] said:
Mike; your post is a breath of fresh air. For being so young, you got it 10000% right! However, it wasn't just economics that resulted in the original hot rod movement being DIY, rough hewed masterpieces. Actually, young adults had pretty good incomes back then, there just wasn't ANY after-market, and not even not much of any hot rod technology back then. These guys didn't buy their parts from Edelbrock, Weiand, Iskenderian, etc., they WERE Edelbrock, Weiand, Iskenderian, etc.!

There is a huge gulf between hot rodding and street rodding. The latter is a recent development and consists of super slick modern cars with old looking bodies. True hot rods are still the result of some guy working in his shop and hand building a machine from whatever he can find. May be summit parts but may just as likely be junk yard parts. A true hot rodder knows EVERY part on his car intimately!
I wish I lived in the old days too... stupid fuel injection and computers don't let us hotrod modern cars very much for cheep.

I love old-school; rods and musclecars. I saw one time these guys build a hotrod and it had discs up front to stop, and it had covers that looked like finned drum brakes; I like that idea since it combines modern safety and old-school looks.

Now if we could get some old-school look finned valve covers for the LS1; relocate the coils; ther're an eyesore all over the place on the mill. If anyone knows where I could get some old finned Edelbrock valve covers for a AMC 360v8, let me know.

The old days had tri-power, flathead, stovebolt, nailhead, "cammer", Hemi, Max-Wedge, and of course the sbc. The wonderbar was the "kickin' system" at the time, and names like dynaflow, powerglide, etc. meant it had an autobox behind that v8.

These days it's LS1, LS2, "modular" 4.6L, the new Hem, and we can't forget VTEC (they suck for torque but get good mpg, but hotrodding isnt about mpg, is it?). It's manual (name how many speeds), or automatic. The only factory radios with a name are "monsoon" (GM)and "mach"(ford). Sadly, there's no neat names for trannies these days other then L-404-FE2 or something.

Simple days are gone, and that's why I like musclears and real hot rods (rat rods). It lets me live in an era that was pretty much dead when I was born (1985; last year you could get a Mustang with a 4barrel).
 

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Chevelle - I almost agree wholeheartedly, except for the new LS6 motors from GM and fuel injection in general.

LS6 practically rhymes with sex and riding in a brand new car so equipped even delivers similar sensations (grin).

Thanks to the magic of fuel injection I can have a motor that can deliver 32mpg, 190 horsepower, and weigh in around 150 pounds.



I don't believe its so much that simpler times have gone by. Honestly I think they are just arriving. In the last year I have significantly wrenched on a 2001 Toyota Spyder and a 1955 Chevrolet BelAir (engine/transmission swaps on both, tweaking, breaking, fixing what broke, etc). The spyder has the chevy beat hands down in the simplicity/easy to work on department. The Chevy looks cooler and sounds a lot better though which is why I choose to drive it to work over the Spyder, hehe.
 

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Rat Rod

Those were some great pix. Makes me drool. One additional thing, rat rods are generally safe vehicles mechanically, just UUUGggglllyyyyyyyyyy to the bone.

That 28 A roadster with the 6 pack captured my heart.
 

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machinest & A&P Mechanic
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yeah and about the 50's i bet more people knew their machines as a bunch of the vets of WWII were home and eager to go fast. and i agree nothing beats their simplicity, all mechanical, few wires, lota room. heck what gets better than changing plugs on a flathead or a jimmy? you don't even have to tip the motor, or strain an ounce! anyways, its good to hear all the support for rat rods, i drive a "modern" truck its a 66 chevy, all rusty, beat up, but has a great engine and tranny. i love it! drive it year round through snow and blistering heat. nothing shows your abilities, toughness,and taste like a rusty ol rod, that just keeps on a rollin'
 
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