As gearheads and tinkers, many mechanics feel a real connection to the rat rod scene. Rat rods are a high-powered reaction to the show car: hot rods engineered from found and re-purposed components, stripped of all the glitz and polish. Rat rod owners delight in assembling powerful driving machines from the fewest, humblest components; paint and body panels are extra, if not actively discouraged.
Steve Thaemert, editor of Rat Rod Magazine, describes the modern rat rod as a “blue collar” hotrod, though they're much more than some show car's poor cousin:
A true rat rod as we know it was obviously born much later and has evolved from a poor-man’s hot rod into a beast all it’s own. Today’s rat rod is a mix of old and new, functional, affordable, and most likely containing components from different years, makes, and models. Today’s rat rodder will showcase deformations, imperfections, and those impossible-to-imitate signs of a vehicles life story. These scars may be everything from the original weather-worn and time-aged finish to bullet holes, to old body work or an exaggerated tear in the steel. These imperfections paired with the aesthetics of raw welds, rivets, spikes, low chops, and menacing stances combine to create the aggressive nature of the modern rat rod. The addition of huge, unique, or nostalgic engines paired with creative exhaust work add to the dark design of what has become it’s own art form. I like to describe the modern rat rod scene as “rockabilly meets heavy metal.”