Rat Rods

According to Wikipedia, (I know, not the best source), a Rat Rod is a style of Hot Rod or custom car that, in most cases, imitates, (or exaggerates) the early Hot Rods of the 1940’s through early 1960’s. I happen to think this definition is pretty accurate. 20160917_174106

Now some feel that a Rat Rod is earlier and can originate from parts all the way back to the early teens, while others feel that if you don’t paint a car and add a lot of patina (rust), it is a Rat Rod. Most, however, agree that a true Rat Rod is something you build, outside of the conventional box. Maybe it is a truck, or a car, but in its entirety, it is yours. The very idea is that your imagination runs the build.339077244_0dfa92592e_z

I have been fortunate to talk with several builders who have chosen to build Rat’s, instead of going to the expense of building a Street Rod or Hot Rod. Some of these builds have been magnificent works of art that had massive engines and scary interiors. These cars have been amazing, no matter what they were called. The engineering has been over the top and the creativity has been immense. I have always found it re1949-gmc-rat-rod-truck-street-rod-truck-original-kansas-patina-9freshing to see what someone will come up with next.

Rat’s were originally a way a guy could build a car without spending too much on it. He would borrow parts from different cars, sometimes creating hi0d7f2928ac15f87a3c46962a9d66f5fbs own with a torch, grinder and welder. Paint was optional, as it wasn’t important to making the car run, or go faster.  Sometimes, he would just remove the “extra” stuff that wasn’t needed to make it fast, often using those parts, in selling or trading, to get what he needed, or he would scour junk yards and swap meets, often using the age old bartering system to get the correct parts for his build.

Simple was the idea, a frame and running gear, a good transmission and fast engine, then build around it. What a concept. Make it go fast, everything else is optional.

Some of the first I ever saw were painted with primer, or a flat paint. Black and gray seemed the colors of choice, but, tractor colors ranked right up there. Sometimes, they would have international-1arust in areas or a rusty “bleed through” in the paint, making it look weathered, or adding patina.

Art deco seemed to be a major choice, as well. Logos, or signs, for the doors, trunks or hoods. Using old metal signs, or license plates, to fix a floor board, or to “patch” an area. These seemed to be some of the best works of art.  Of course, skulls seem to find their way onto a lot of Rat Rod’s, as lights, gearshift knobs, air cleaners, etc.

Generally, it seemed that original “steel wheels” were the wheel of choice, painted the same as the car, or left rusty. Sometimes even painted a bright color. Large white walls seemed very attractive and added a lot to the look, especially if the car was dropped to the ground.21dd6dea2f8a22a5c337eb6c7b3ef997

I think one of my favorite things about the Rat Rod is what attracts me to most Hot rods and Street Rods. The engine. Yep, the beast that makes it go fast and loud. Often, you can get a great view of the entire engine, as the bay is purposefully left open. The engine generally has been rebuilt, the parts cleaned, but when it is installed, you don’t find chrome, or parts that look nice and clean, you find muscle and meat, you find an engine that isn’t afraid to roar.


All images were taken from Google. These are not mine.


Video Interview #4, 1971 “Judge” Clone

Let me first say a great big welcome to Jacob, who is now my production manager and to Aaron, who is my son and production assistant. Aaron took on the camera duties, unrehearsed and for the first time, for these videos. Jacob came in and is doing the editing for the last 2 videos and20161023_145355 will be helping with the camera shots on future video interviews. A big shout out to both of these young men, they are going to make a great team.

Now, this is a 1971 Oldsmobile, “Judge” Clone. Made like a Judge, just not certified as a Judge. You can see the video here.

The current owner, Bill Bodenstein has had it for about 5 years. The car was a race car, owned by John Sullivan and was written up twice in National Dragster. Since Bill has owned it, he has amassed around 68 trophies.

The engine is a 400SBC, bored 0.30 over with a steel crank. That is all they know about it, as Mr. Sullivan could not remember what else he originally put into it.20161023_145401

The color they chose to paint on it is originally for a 1970, which they found out after painting the car, but, due to cost, they left it. The car is all Factory “Judge”, but not certified, hence the word “Clone” on the trunk.

This is a beautiful car and well kept. It was a great pleasure to do this interview with Bill.

This car is sponsored by Bill’s company, Duck Juice. If you choose to purchase from them, let them know we sent you.

Watch the video interview20161023_150010

1969 Camaro

This video is the first interview My son and I did on October 23, 2016, at the Annual Ridgely Car Show, in Ridgely, MD.

View the video here: Bruce 1969 Camaro

Bruce was kind enough to be our first guinea pig, so, although the interview itself went pretty well, with a good amount of information, my cameraman, being new to this, didn’t realize that he should be showing the car while we were talking. He has learned more, now that he has a couple under his belt. (I think he did a tremendous job)

Thought I would give you the shots of the engine compartment we got, to go with the video.

Please subscribe to the YouTube channel, as more will be coming.

Jack Thomas Rat Rod Truck – Video Interview

14922264_189153588202777_7543960104164625955_nJack Thomas graciously allowed me to do a video interview with him on Sunday, October 23, 2016 at the Ridgely, MD Car show.

This is his video. Jack Thomas Video


You can also check out my article on Rat Rods right here on Customs N Classics Blog. I give a short introduction to a basic history of the Rat.


Shop Rat Rod Accessories here.

Subscribe to my Channel to relieve new updates automatically.

Jack Thomas Video