The rat rod comes in many mind blowing backyard mechanic flavors. So, where did it all start and who really built the first rat rod? The argument has been made that rat rods are more recent variations of low dollar street rods built by rodders looking for the rusty vintage look and appeal of true 40ís, 50ís and 60ís rods. Some of this is true in individual cars, but not on the whole. A view back to the 70ís will show rat rods for sale in local papers.  

Many say rat rod history originated from a Rod & Custom Magazine issue from 1972, where a low dollar rod was highlighted as a feature car.  Others dispute the origin of the term ďrat rodĒ. An article written by Gray Baskerville in Hot Rod Magazine used the term to describe a 1932 Ford roadster painted in primer. Did Gray coin the term rat rod? There are other stories and variations of the origin of both the cars and phrase. With so many claims, it is best to point out the original car and term usage for which is documented in both articles.

Without a doubt, many rat rods appear to be unfinished. The finish can be Rat Rod Engineprimer or Mother Natureís true patina. Truly lucky rat rods have a combination of original paint and true patina rusty finish. These street rod variations are built for function, with form revolving around function. The interior is usually as simple and as basic as possible. Drive train is built based upon engine power, with most engines running on 8 cylinders. Hemi engines and old flat heads are most desirable for the true rat rod fanatics, keeping with the nostalgic look and feel of old street rods. Suspension too is minimal on most cars, keeping the car as low to the ground as possible. 

Rat rods are welcome by most. There are groups of preservationists that wish to deter the modifications to vintage cars. These groups also do not support the rat rodís simple function and rustic look. Some claim that the cars are imitations. However, rat rods are truly an evolution of the art, form, and function we see in street rods. Street rods and hot rods have risen in value over the past 20 years. With the wide array of chrome, billet, paint options, leather interior, etc., builds can easily exceed $30,000.00 dollars for a basic hot rod. So where does this leave the rest of the low and middle income and street rod fans? Once again, it is an evolution, not everyone can afford a $30,000.00 dollar hot rod. Many of the bodies used to form rat rods were forgotten and left in fields to rot away. Most would never make it into the paint booth. So, for the preservationists, they must consider that many cars turned into rat rods would otherwise waste away in fields forgotten forever. Rat rods have managed to save more cars than those used by modifying perfectly good bodies. 

Rat Rod Rear EndIn general, rat rods add flair to an already diverse hobby for car enthusiasts. The rat rod opens another door for people and new fans to get into a hobby enjoyed by many. Personally, I used to ride a Harley-Davidson and enjoyed motor biking for 7 years. I lost a good friend on a bike, and I too ended up hitting a 6 point buck on my bike a few years later. Iíve left bikes behind and now enjoy being wrapped in good ole rusty Henry steel. Quite honestly, I feel rat rods are much cooler and certainly more original that the now over-populated Harley hobby. Donít get me wrong, Harleys are cool, but rat rods take it all a step further. To each his own and enjoy a truly original hobby of rat rods.