The “rat rod” scene has been around the hot-rod world for some time. It seems the early-model custom truck culture has come to accept the “rat rod” truck trend and its lifestyle. For some conservative custom truck enthusiasts, the acceptance has been frowned upon, but it seems we are seeing more of these ratty rides at custom truck events.
The rat rods came upon the scene as a counter-culture movement to the traditional high-dollar trailer queen hot rods. Rat rods are throwbacks that loosely imitate the first generation of hot rods from the ’40s and ’50s. Some say the rockabilly and punk cultures were responsible for forming the rat rod scene. As the evolution of rat rods grew, we began seeing rat rod trucks invading shows and cruising boulevards all across the country.
A typical rat truck is created from an early ’30s to ’50s truck with removed fenders, hoods, and bumpers. The bodies are frequently channeled (body-dropped) and sectioned over the framerails, with their roof chopped, which hammers their profiles. A weathered, rusty, crusty overall appearance reflects a rat truck’s true identity. Many rat trucks appear unfinished with primer, satin, matte, black and flat color paintjobs. Other finishes might include “natural patina” (the original paint with rust and blemishes), a patch of original paint and primer, or bare metal. The interiors are crude with no headliner, carpet, or door panels with many of the seats covered with Mexican Serape blankets, or bare metal bomber seats. To maintain the rat rod truck theme the instrumentation consists of mostly vintage stock or military gauges. The drivetrain can vary from vintage Ford flatheads, early Chrysler Hemis, or a variety of inline-eights, -sixes, -fours, to V-6 and V-8 engines. These early powerplants are equipped with interesting intake manifold and carburetor combinations along with creative exhausts. The A-beam axle front suspension is most common with leaf, transverse, parallel, and coil spring setups both front and rear.
Rat trucks are just another prime example of custom truck enthusiasts expressing themselves while expanding the custom truck horizon.