Rod Paint, Upholstery and Finishing Touches
Many rat rods appear unfinished, with suede (primer for
the paint job) being common. Other common rat rod finishes include
patina (the original paint with rust and blemishes intact), a
patchwork of original paint and primer, and bare metal with no
finish at all in rusty or oiled varieties.
Interiors will vary, from fully finished to a spartan, bare
bones form. The color and flair of one popular interior design
comes from Mexican blankets and bomber seats. Most rat
rods are designed to be functional without many creature comforts,
although this will vary with the owner's taste.
Although rat rods are often confused with traditional hot rods,
today they have very little in common. Rat rods have become popular
with many enthusiasts as a reaction to the professionally built,
billet encrusted, high dollar street rods at car shows.
Rat rods are built to be driven. Many are even
used as daily drivers by their owners. All Rat Rods are
built for fun...a vehicle that is cool and does not require
Rat Rodders also enjoy showing off their pride and joy - while
they are rarely trailered to an event, they may often
be trailered home.
Rat Rod Sub-Culture
Owners of a wide variety of vintage cars enjoy the
Hot Rod culture, but sub-cultures exist to varying
degrees. This type of hot rod and the term "rat rod"
connote serious inclusiveness and pride.
Some owners express themselves with a little
tongue-in-cheek, twinkle of the eye style
embellishments. The owner of this fine rat rod
obviously had a lot of fun getting it ready to take
to the NSRA Nationals in Louisville, Kentucky.
Others are totally into it, and completely
defensive of their car and kulture.
The term itself has been co-opted by business. It was only a
matter of time, of course.
"Rat Rod Kulture" is used as a marketing
tool to sell lifestyle items such as iron crosses,
skulls, and the like which are historically associated with hot rod
culture by way of 1960s teen culture (see some of the "beach"
movies of the period).
The Beater - Rat Rod's
The December 1972 issue of Rod & Custom Magazine was
dedicated to the "beater," a low-budget alternative to the
over-polished, slickly-painted, customized early car. The beater
could easily be considered a precursor to the rat
Owners of these beaters often had a high-dollar machine sitting
in their garage, but without expensive upholstery, primered only
(if painted at all), no chromed or polished Corvette/Jaguar
Now there's a car a Rat Rod owner