What’s a rat rod? – Our definition

What’s a “Rat Rod”?

The term “Rat Rod” is something that has not yet been defined within the automotive world.  Industry leaders, general car guys, and builders all have different opinions on what a rat rod really is.  This being said I’m just another person weighing in on the conversation.  My views are what most of us here at Precision believe and will almost fight for.  We are passionate about what we do, we are passionate about the vehicles we build, and we want to make sure that every car we build is built with high standard of quality, safety, and reliability.

1958 Chevy pickup - Is this the makeings of a "Rat Rod"

Rat Rods are generally can be described as wild, over the top, inexpensive, so ugly there cool, and built from the scraps of anything lying around.  Usually unsafe, unreliable, and probably shouldn’t be on the road.  In my opinion this is a pretty fair description.  Safety, quality, and reliability are words rarely associated with a rat rod.  If something is built with a high standard of quality does that eliminate it from the “Rat Rod” category?  If something is built with safety in mind does that eliminate it from the “Rat Rod” category? Is the term “rat rod” a term of endearment or is it just another category of build?

There are back yard mechanics and car guys who just try to slap a piece of junk together, completely disregarding any type of standards.  They conveniently call it a “rat rod” and get loads of attention because of this “I don’t care” rebel attitude.  One can say that this is OK.  One can say the creativeness, originality, and resourcefulness is something to be respected.  That I will agree to.  What I can’t agree to is the total lack of care when it comes to safety and quality.  If a person wants to build the ugliest piece of junk out of a pile of old parts that’s understandable, bad taste can be overlooked. But refusing to meet a certain level of quality and safety cannot.  Overlooking or disregarding a potential safety hazard is dangerous and should absolutely never be tolerated within the world of hot rodding.

The rat rods idea of rust repair is in full force in the back of the cab on this 58 Chevy The rat rodders idea of a cab mount.  Classy!!!

Something else that gets mixed up in the “rat rod” debate is what shouldn’t be included into this category.  Vehicles that have flat paint, highly customized vehicles, little or no chrome, pitted or patina chrome, or just an unfinished car get unfairly categorized as a “rat rod”.   If a car doesn’t have shiny paint and chrome does not automatically make it a “rat rod”.

What’s in a name?  Well… everything!!!  Until the days where junk is considered junk and not just put into a category because it looks a certain way, does a name matter.  So the question still remains – What’s a “rat rod”?   For now a “rat rod”, to me, is considered a home built vehicle, built by unqualified technicians, trying to just make a statement with a disregard to anything else.  On the flip side of this, it doesn’t mean every “rat rod” out there is just plain junk.  Considerations have to be made to the level of quality and the ultimate safety and drivability of any vehicle.  As some point a car has to make its way out of the bottomless pit know as a “rat rod” and truly be considered a real hot rod, custom, or cruiser.

This 2008 Challenger in some peoples minds would be considered a "rat rod"