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What got you into rat rods?

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  • What got you into rat rods?

    The board seems a bit slow. Lets start a conversation about what it was that got you into rat rods in the first place.

    I'll start.
    I grew an addiction to fast cars when I was young, probably around 10. Back then is was the old coupes racing at our local dirt track. Then it was hanging around guys that had fast cars. Money was always tight, I figured out that if I wanted to have a fast car for myself, I was going to have to learn to make it fast myself, and I was going to have to do some serious scrounging to get it done.

    The 1st car I drove was a 64 Oldsmobile 4 door. The car was dad's and he was going to trade it in on a new used car, but the dealership was going to charge him $50 more to trade it in, so he kept it. No 16 year old kid wanted to have to drive a 4 door car, but that Olds had a big motor, and it was FAST! Some of my buddies had cool cars, but the Olds was faster then any of their cars were. I had a lot of fun until I broke the transmission. Dad picked up a use trans someplace, but I had to change it. It was still fast after the trans change.

    Fast forward to moving out of the parents house and into my new wife & my apartment. That apartment happened to have a garage, and I discovered I could buy cars, sell off parts and make money, and junk the remains and make more money. Since my full time job paid the bills, the money from selling parts could go into a hot rod. It didn't take long before I discovered that making those hot rods pretty cost a lot of money that could make them go faster. Screw the pretty, lets go fast. Rat rods, before they ever existed. Because cars were worth a lot more in parts then they were complete, I found myself buying cars that had lots of good parts to sell. Those same cars were also pretty easy to make fast. In my 20s & 30s, there were a lot of different fast cars, but most were from the performance era of the late 60s and early 70s.

    About that time I fell in love with cars from the 1930s & 1940s. Those cars required a lot more work to make them fast, and to make them stop fast enough to keep you out of trouble. The time it took to build them was years, rather then a few weeks it took to build the performance era cars. It was worth more effort to make then al least presentable, because they would last longer, and bring more money when sold. The 30s & 40s car were worth more running and driving, and being presentable added to the value.
    After that 1st 35 Dodge sedan, I discovered how to build them faster, and for less out of pocket money. The 2nd one was a truck, and I built it while I was driving the 35. When the truck was road worthy, I sold the 35. The money from the sale of the 35 funded the build of the next project, which took place while driving the truck. The cycle is still going.

    The way I build my stuff doesn't really fit into many "normal" vehicle classifications. I sure was happy when the rat rod style caught on. The shock rods don't do much for me (if that is your thing, carry on), but I sure do like the variety of different build perspectives the rat rod segment of hot rods has opened up. Gene

  • #2
    I think rat rods sought me out. LOL. My first hot rod stated in 1980 when I was 22 years old. Back then it was simply a hot rod. ’30 body channeled on a 2x3 t-bucket frame, ¾” plywood floor, gas tank removed and firewall moved back for engine clearance, ¾” firewall, built on the cheap. I like good “thought out” rats more than any kind of hot rod now. Glad they caught on. It sure pulled me in.

    Rat rods: Creative. Unique. Cool. “Against the grain”. 1930 Chevy truck build link:


    • #3
      Growing up poor (or, not flush with cash, anyway), pretty much all of my cars would have been considered 'rat rods' by today's standards...we made-due with what we had at the time, and we had fun doing it. That was sort of a natural progression for me to continue building rat rods with my sons, and why I still do it today (in a limited capacity).

      Flash-forward to today, where I'm much older, have a wife and grown kids, and are close to retirement with more expendable income than I ever had before, I still do it for fun... it's just getting harder to lay under a car and wrench all day on a rod, and expect to be able to walk upright for a few days afterwards, lol.

      Given all of that, I still really enjoy it... especially now that I don't have to rely on the old car to get me back and forth to work or haul the family on a daily basis (I have a Kia SUV for that, lol). Now it's just for fun and attending car pressure.

      Like everyone here, if I had kept every classic car that I have ever owned, I would have retired early...even though most of them were junk, lol.

      I've been on the forums since 2007, and although I haven't been as active in the last several years (real-life stuff taking precedent of my time), I made several good friends here...and I'm not even sure if they're still active now....and I wouldn't trade that experience for the world.

      '62 Ford Falcon 2-door ratwagon
      '75 Dodge Monaco Bluesmobile w/440
      '43 Ford GPW
      Lookin' for:1966-1968 Cadillac


      • #4
        I have an interesting, or unconventional story......

        I am a car guy, born and raised. My grandfather was a tech at the Pontiac Proving Grounds in Milford, Michigan his whole career. He always had cool cars, and ever since I was little he let me help work on them.

        I'm younger, so most of my personal cars and projects up until 2001 or so have been tuner cars. Small cars, and big turbos. But about 20 years ago I started working on classic cars and enjoyed it. But through the process of working on cars, I got into photography. I shot photos of all types of cars, and got quite good at it. I shot photos for several automotive magazines, and helped create Ratrod Magazine.

        Ratrod magazine really exposed me to rat rods. I really enjoy shooting them and talking with the owners about how they are built. Every one of them is different.

        So now here I am, building my own car. And I am combining my rat rod exposure and tuner car knowledge. I am building a 1930 Chevy Coupe and powering it with a 2/3L turbo engine from a Saab. Using a 6 speed manual transmission from a BMW.