The Times Journal & Russell County News
Thursday, Apr. 17, 2014 — RUSSELL SPRINGS & JAMESTOWN, KENTUCKY — russellcounty.net
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Cruisin': Rat Rods
In March 20 Issue
Russell County News
By Ron Cowell, Columnist

Most classic car owners get their vehicles and restore them, clean them up and get them ready to show. In the process they spend thousands of dollars and in some cases more than that in doing so. When they are finished they have a vehicle that is perfect for showing but don't drive it much because it will get dirty and it takes hours and days to get it clean again.  All they want from their vehicle is the attention found in someone looking over their classy car with envious eyes.

Well a "Rat Rod" is the exception to the rule. They are not built for people to envy and wish they had one like it.  They are put together for no other reason other than to function. Just last year I saw one that had toilet seats as the front seat, a beer keg for a gas tank and Maxwell House Coffee cans for headlights. They are becoming more and more popular at Cruise Ins and Cars shows across the country. They are a complete turn around to what we know as a classic car. They are a way of poking fun at those of us who spend many, many hours cleaning, polishing and making our vehicles look good.

When you think of a Rat you think of a rodent that eats trash and lives in the sewer, kind of dirty and disgusting. The Rat Rod is that rodent in the flesh. However, owners take pride in their primer paint job and parts from many other cars modified top work on their car.  Now I didn't say 'fit'.  I said work.

It tells you I may not look pretty but I can drive better and faster than any other hot rod on the road.

Back in the 50's there was a lot of hype for hot rods. They were sleek and sophisticated cars that generally had a special paint job that shined from miles away. Some decked out in flames, pin striping and anything else to make it look cool. They were custom built with special parts and generous additions to make them look just so!  No feature was left unattended when it came to making your car a classic fashion statement. For the most part the cars were driven for nothing but shows. When attending the shows they park all together just to gain attention and envy.

Rat Rod came on the scene with very poor paint jobs, if it had a paint job at all. Parts of the car were actually broken or falling off the car, and rust is considered a special feature. The drivers of the Rat Rod were making a statement.  They were saying,” I am more than just a car”. Owners of Rat Rods prided themselves on being down to earth and not possession focused sheep. All of the sudden these cars were becoming a statement to the classic car owner who had more money than sense in the car. It also said it's not how the car looks but how it drives and how fast it will go.

Today the way things are, in our modern day society, for some the Rat Rod has become what was never intended to be.

A lot of the Rat Rod owners show their vehicles and most shows had a class just for the rat rod. Most Rat Rod owners take pride in mix matching parts to give their Rat Rod that authentic look of age and time.

Regardless, the Rat Rod is an American icon in automotives that is sure to stay in the history books. Look for them this summer.  You're in for a treat.

Until next time, Keep Cruisin’ !

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The Times Journal is a weekly newspaper issued on Thursdays. It was first published on October 13, 1949, by Andrew J. and Terry Norfleet.
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Russell County News is a weekly newspaper issued on Saturdays, and is mailed free to every address in Russell County, Ky. It was first published on February 1, 1913.
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