In a previous article, we featured photographs of unloved vehicles that have been left to rot in backyards and junkyards all across the country. But what about cars that are loved — just rotted by design?
A rat rod is a distinct genre of automobile that rose out of 1970’s hot rod culture to counter the trend of pristine restorations and customizations that often alienated car enthusiasts with limited funds. The rods, which are typically coupes or roadsters from the late 1920’s to late 1950’s, were initially plain vehicles with souped-up powertrains. To save money, owners would leave them in primer paint and put blankets over their upholstery.
As the genre became more popular — due in large part to magazine coverage — the look of rat rods transformed from necessity to novelty. It wasn’t long before owners began purposefully neglecting and even beating up their vehicles to make them look more worn. Owners also began organizing rat rod car shows and awarding prizes to those with the most disintegrated rides.
Ironically, today car enthusiasts pay a lot of money for distressed paint jobs and interiors so that they could boast about owning the baddest rat rod on the block. For those of us who’ve spent years honing our skills to become masters of our craft, it’s a nightmare for sure — but to each his own I suppose.
Below are our picks for 10 best — and by that we mean nastiest and grimiest — rat rod interiors.
What do you think? Share with us your thoughts on rat rod culture in the comments section below.
Robert Morris says
I think they ate great . LOVE FOR THE GRITTY RATS!
Nadeem Muaddi says
While I don’t share your enthusiasm for these decrepit cabins, I will admit they do hold a certain charm… you know, in that Sanford and Son sort of way.
josh hardison says
Got to love the 5th one down! Hammers #33. Maybe its because I sewed it all up… shout out to Rat Rods by Jason!
Cowboy boots??!!?? Well, I guess you can either stick ’em on a fence post or in your hot rod…
Nadeem Muaddi says
Haha, did you notice the guitar-neck shifter and door-knob horn in the sixth picture down? Crazy stuff! Not to mention how itchy that potato-sack upholstery has got to be…
I know the owner that built this one. He calls it the Rockabilly Rat. It is old school all the way. His name is Ken Coats from Wenatchee Washington.
Edward Munday says
Retired…Art Mabe, No Thanks For Me.
rich santana says
I thought the boots were an original idea too. In the right car, they work well. It’s just a different taste. If we all had the same taste, we would all be eating tofu and lucky charms.
Custom Upholstery n Fabrication says
I wouldn’t personally have a rat rod but I do admire the creativity and ingenuity that they put into em
Edward Munday says
What A Bunch Of Garbage.
And this is why you’re retired.
justin montgomery says
while i guess i see how this wouldnt fit somes taste, for me this is pure art and exspression and car enthusiasm at its best , but in a world based on money ,were most exspensive is held the highest ,
especially in the car world , shiny paint , interier not even allowed to have shoes on , rat rodding is a hobby right after my own heart , these are usually made from vehicles that carried many families around an were everyday drivers , an to keep the past on the road an thriving , is awesome , most expensive is not always best in my book , great job guys , cant even pick a favorite , 1’4’7’9
I have never understood the attraction to this type of vehicle. When we were kids I wouldn’t be caught dead in one. It seems have spawned new and growing fad and for those that appreciate it. There is a lot there to take in and really like.
Ben Sutherland says
Why don’t you stick your head a little farther up your ass……Just enough to keep your mouth shut.
i guess as an apulster i could see how this wouldnt appeal , lookin at these probably makes you cringe lol not really a new fad eitherjust more out there now it seems , what i dont like is people spending thousands of dollars to achieve ” the look ” , the whole.project to me is turning nothing into something , personalized junk to some i.guess , to an old country boy like me , this is what true hot rodding is about , i love show cars but this wereit begun , in garages with.little to.no.money an.know how ,
pretty cool stuff but i get the point of calling them the worst as we have no work to do in any of these all home made but stil if you can rat rod it on the outside a true ratrodder must make them rat rod on on the inside some reall cool ideas seen here thats for sure.
Ciprian Gorun says
Pretty cool. I admire the creativity and ingenuity that they put into em
Mines the 4th car down has about 30k miles on it all hand crafted interior not some half ass factory seat with some fake leather covering up shitty skills like it or not I’ll be the one passing u at 80 on hi way while u are hauling your trailer queen to the show so people can back there ass up against your car to look inside .. Like them or not rats are built to be driven some aren’t so are but there built to say fuck u and that’s exactly what it’s all about !btw turned down a 55k offer for the car a few years ago so don’t let that fool u like most people some people see a rusty car they don’t see a well built car to look rough
carl portzline says
Hi, how’s it going? Just shared this post with a colleague, we had a good laugh.
Great creativity. Anybody can hire someone to do a job on the inside of a rod . You have to have guts to do it yourself.
Lonnie Gaddis says
I love the rat rod community.There is a lot of creativity in these builds.I personally am in the process of building a traditional rod on outside and a little rat items in the interior.To each is own.May GOD bless this great country we live in .
Barrio Dog says
Cowboy boots? Custom leather interior! They have nailed the Rat Rod ethic..