The Rat Rod Era in North America

The “auto war” between the rat rod society and the hot rod society has been going on for quite some time now. In simple words, a rat rod is a recycled car usually created from scraps of old vehicles. However, it is called rat rod because it is made to look like hot rod cars but it is rather a degraded form of hot rod cars. The traditional hot rod cars have a very distinctive look with chopped front, dropped front axle, side pipes and large engines. There are several explanations of the name behind hot rods. One of the explanations is that the term “hot rod” refers to the refitting of a new and more powerful engine into an old vehicle for better performance. This explanation fits well the description of rat rod cars as well since rat rod cars are modified versions of old vehicles. In case of rat rods, it’s not only the engine which comes from a different vehicle but also most of the parts that go into the basic structure of a car. While the rat rod society considers their creations as matters of pride and the future of the hot rod, these creations are considered as disgrace to the hot rod society. Like the creations themselves, the debate is hot and spicy. The rat rod society perceives themselves as independent and creative designers who create their own unique designs using available and affordable materials. However, the critics perceive them as talentless and their creations as pile of junk.

The exclusive rat rod created from a BMW 2002 by owner John Lee might be an eyesore to haters of rat rods, but to its lovers it is another brand new innovation in the history of rat rods. John owned this BMW 2002 since he was in high school until one fine morning when John felt like giving it a new life in his auto experiment and innovation lab, Atlanta Performance and Fabrication (APF). His BMW 2002 was already a rare collection with its high revving acceleration and gravity defying handling unmatchable by its peers even today. John’s transformation of the car has made it even more attractive. He started off with framing using spare tubing and then went on adding coilovers from C5 Chevrolet Covrette, the coilovers which is one of the distinctive features of the C5 Chevrolet Covrette and can serve as both ride spring and anti-roll spring. With a complete makeover using long abandoned parts from his APF garage, his rat rod now has switched from a left had steering to a right hand steering as well as a roof-mounted shifter. The steering rack came from the sports classic Cobalt SS and the control arms were taken from a Panoz racer. The Chevrolet Covrette also loaned its LS1 V8 engine to be bolted with the super turbine TH350 automatic gearbox. The last piece of decoration was the headers before John’s rat rod was finally ready to go out in the street to make a statement.

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