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View Full Version : What is a Studebaker Rat Rod?



Jimmie
09-15-2008, 08:39 AM
I just bought a 1950 Studebaker for parts that the fellow had started forming into a "Rat Rod." I do not know what this is and didn't want to ask him. It had been a 2-door sedan like mine but he cut the top off of it and the tops of the very good doors. The car must have spent its life in Arizona because it is nearly rust free. There are numerous parts still on it like the trunk lid that will only need to have the holes drilled out so I can put the trunk lid handle on it again.
The fender on the passenger side I have taken off to put on my 50 but he had split the other one from the top to bottom and moved the front half up to the door opening and welded it onto the side of the car. Now there is a space with no metal about a foot wide running from the top of the fender to the bottom-I suppose he was going to weld some metal in here. The entire floor was cut out such that we had trouble keeping what was left of it caught on the edge of the frame as we dollyed it home. He said that the "new" front suspension and frame from about the firewall on up was off a mustang. So, what is a "rat rod?"

Jimmie

http://i197.photobucket.com/albums/aa221/studerich/Jim%20Judy/Picture1.jpg
1950 CHAMPION -ORANGE COUNTY, INDIANA
I'VE SAVED SO MUCH DAYLIGHT THAT THERE'S NO DARK TO SLEEP IN ANYMORE!

52-fan
09-15-2008, 09:16 AM
The term "rat rod" is a much abused name for what originally was a street rod usually built by young fellows on a budget using whatever was cheap and available. Many of these cars were rather crude looking emphasizing function and attitude over good looks. Thus the ratty overall appearance. There was a long discussion on the forum about rat rods. You might want to do a search for it. If you goggle rat rod on the web you will find thousands of entries.
Unfortunately, the craze has caught on with some people who are less than craftsmen and others just call any old (or not so old) ragged car or truck a rat rod. Many of these are just poor imitations of the original form because they have become popular. I think the well build ones are cool and a definite change of pace.

http://i152.photobucket.com/albums/s186/52-fan/StudebakersofArkansas2-1.jpg
1952 Champion Starlight, 1962 Daytona, both w/overdrive.Searcy,Arkansas
"I may be lazy, but I'm not shiftless."

oldguy
09-15-2008, 10:25 AM
IMHO, Rat Rod is the appropriate term for ill concieved, poorly constructed, abominations. sounds like he knew what he had. Glad it still had some parts you could use.

San antonio TX. 53 Champion Coupe, to be brought back from the dead.
"Of course it will fit, I have a torch"

Mike Van Veghten
09-15-2008, 11:01 AM
I subscribe to pretty much what 52-fan states.
I know people that are building..and have built rat rods.

The only thing to add to 52's statement is....some "rat rods", are very expensive and done very nicely. They are done very nicely...to "appear" old and beat up. You need to look at the detail to see this though.

On the other hand...there are cars out there that represent what oldguy talks about. BUT...for the most part (at least here in So. Cal.), they are burried way back in the minority.

During the Bakersfield "March Meet" and the NHRA's Hot Rod Reunion, there can be 25 or 35 of these cars show up. Mostly from the So. Cal. area...and 90% are driven the 300/400 mile round trip, for both of these races. So they can't be too...ill conceived or constructed..!

Mike

showbizkid
09-15-2008, 12:50 PM
Where I am, which is near a major military base, "rat rod" refers to any ponycar (Firebird, Mustang, Camaro, etc.) that has 50-series fatties and ladder bars on the rear, a 2" exhaust and a Chevy rat motor, a body in primer with rotted and/or dented quarters, and can trace its ownership through at least three 20-something Marines. These cars get passed around like a joint at a Pink Floyd show.



[img=left]http://members.cox.net/clarknovak/lark.gif[/img=left]

Clark in San Diego
'63 F2/Lark Standard
http://studeblogger.blogspot.com
www.studebakersandiego.com

Jimmie
09-15-2008, 01:01 PM
Okay, now the next question, you mentioned that such a thing has a chevy rat motor. What motor would have Studebaker written on it that would qualify as a "Studebaker rat motor?"

Jimmie




quote:Originally posted by showbizkid

Where I am, which is near a major military base, "rat rod" refers to any ponycar (Firebird, Mustang, Camaro, etc.) that has 50-series fatties and ladder bars on the rear, a 2" exhaust and a Chevy rat motor, a body in primer with rotted and/or dented quarters, and can trace its ownership through at least three 20-something Marines. These cars get passed around like a joint at a Pink Floyd show.



[img=left]http://members.cox.net/clarknovak/lark.gif[/img=left]

Clark in San Diego
'63 F2/Lark Standard
http://studeblogger.blogspot.com
www.studebakersandiego.com


http://i197.photobucket.com/albums/aa221/studerich/Jim%20Judy/Picture1.jpg
1950 CHAMPION -ORANGE COUNTY, INDIANA
I'VE SAVED SO MUCH DAYLIGHT THAT THERE'S NO DARK TO SLEEP IN ANYMORE!

oldguy
09-15-2008, 01:19 PM
Agreed 52 fan got the definition right, and the term is much abused. My problem is the current incarnation. When they spend 10's of thousands to build a high quality car, with great effort to make it "look" like a rat rod, it really isn't. The other extreme is what I described, and if you have a real rat rod by the original definition, you don't want to be lumped in with them.

San antonio TX. 53 Champion Coupe, to be brought back from the dead.
"Of course it will fit, I have a torch"

gordr
09-15-2008, 04:51 PM
It's on eBay. They add "rat rod" to the listing in an effort to get their listing seen by people using that as a search term. Nothing more, nothing less.

Off eBay, my understanding of "rat rod" encompasses low-dollar. owner-built hot rods that hearken back to the early days of hot rodding, when a fella's hot was his only means of transport, so it didn't necessarily get built to a finished state all at once, rarely did, in fact. They weren't deliberately built poorly; it was done by people with little money doing the best they could.

Another aspect of rat-rodding is just a "back-to-the-roots" reaction against the big-dollar billet-laden "street rods", mostly built by pro builders on a cost-is-no-object basis.

And still another aspect is people who deliberately throw together a half-ass car, simply because they can, as a kind of parody of the rat-rod ethos. They are making a joke, in some cases.

But mostly it's about having fun.

Gord Richmond, within Weasel range of the Alberta Badlands

rockfoot
09-15-2008, 07:54 PM
Don't know about the Studebaker Rat Motor, but this is the Chevy history...The big block "In all forms (except the ZL-1 Can-Am model) the "rat motor", as it was later nicknamed (the small-block engine being a "mouse motor"),"... wikipedia....

1955 President one owner
Moncks Corner, SC
http://i258.photobucket.com/albums/hh279/rbarrett/P1000631.jpghttp://i258.photobucket.com/albums/hh279/rbarrett/259Studebaker.jpg

madmike
09-15-2008, 07:59 PM
quote:Originally posted by Jimmie

Okay, now the next question, you mentioned that such a thing has a chevy rat motor. What motor would have Studebaker written on it that would qualify as a "Studebaker rat motor?"

Jimmie




quote:Originally posted by showbizkid

Where I am, which is near a major military base, "rat rod" refers to any ponycar (Firebird, Mustang, Camaro, etc.) that has 50-series fatties and ladder bars on the rear, a 2" exhaust and a Chevy rat motor, a body in primer with rotted and/or dented quarters, and can trace its ownership through at least three 20-something Marines. These cars get passed around like a joint at a Pink Floyd show.



[img=left]http://members.cox.net/clarknovak/lark.gif[/img=left]

Clark in San Diego
'63 F2/Lark Standard
http://studeblogger.blogspot.com
www.studebakersandiego.com


http://i197.photobucket.com/albums/aa221/studerich/Jim%20Judy/Picture1.jpg
1950 CHAMPION -ORANGE COUNTY, INDIANA
I'VE SAVED SO MUCH DAYLIGHT THAT THERE'S NO DARK TO SLEEP IN ANYMORE!


A chevy rat motor means that "it" is a big block. Over the years, chevy fans refered to the smallblock i.e. 265/283/302/307/327/350/400 as a "mouse" motor. The Big block i.e 396/402/427/454 was referred to as a "rat" motor. Since it is exclusively a chevy nickname, it is impossible, for that reason to have any studebaker engine that would be labled as a rat motor,...regardless of it's cubic displacement

Don't talk about what you are going to do,... talk about what you have DONE.

DEEPNHOCK
09-15-2008, 08:02 PM
Oh come on... Wake up Jimmie;)
We'll drag you into the 1980's if we have to....
Yer' cracking me up[:p]
Jeff[8D]



quote:Originally posted by Jimmie

I just bought a 1950 Studebaker for parts that the fellow had started forming into a "Rat Rod." I do not know what this is and didn't want to ask him. <snip>
So, what is a "rat rod?"

52-fan
09-15-2008, 08:38 PM
I believe that the rat motor, mouse motor, thing came about due to the Hemi being called an elephant motor due to its size. The old joke is that an elephant is afraid of a mouse so the Chevy boys called their engines mouse motors.
However, the term rat rod has nothing to do with the engine. Many of the rat rod crowd actually search out older off-beat type engines. Some even use Studebakers!

http://i152.photobucket.com/albums/s186/52-fan/StudebakersofArkansas2-1.jpg
1952 Champion Starlight, 1962 Daytona, both w/overdrive.Searcy,Arkansas
"I may be lazy, but I'm not shiftless."

Jimmie
09-16-2008, 05:24 AM
You are right, I am out of touch with some things-but willing to learn. I now know more about "rat rods" than the average person, again because of the Studebaker Forum! Thanks Again!

Jimmie



quote:Originally posted by DEEPNHOCK

Oh come on... Wake up Jimmie;)
We'll drag you into the 1980's if we have to....
Yer' cracking me up[:p]
Jeff[8D]



quote:Originally posted by Jimmie

I just bought a 1950 Studebaker for parts that the fellow had started forming into a "Rat Rod." I do not know what this is and didn't want to ask him. <snip>
So, what is a "rat rod?"



http://i197.photobucket.com/albums/aa221/studerich/Jim%20Judy/Picture1.jpg
1950 CHAMPION -ORANGE COUNTY, INDIANA
I'VE SAVED SO MUCH DAYLIGHT THAT THERE'S NO DARK TO SLEEP IN ANYMORE!

turbostude
09-17-2008, 09:06 AM
"Okay, now the next question, you mentioned that such a thing has a chevy rat motor. What motor would have Studebaker written on it that would qualify as a "Studebaker rat motor?" Jimmie"

I think that would be the TurboStude.......The whole car is a rat, but just like a car accident or a freak show....hard to stop looking at!




Greg
http://Salt2Salt.com
http://Turbostude.com
http://turbostude.com/Tribaker (LP three-wheeler project)

bridgegaurd
09-19-2008, 08:09 AM
a rat rod is supposed to represent what us old goats did to build hot rods in the 50's. before a gagrage and super tools.

Hammer chisel, cresent wrench, pliers, bigger hammer, thank god for that new fangled spary can primer. We built my first dragster in an old one car double barn door wooden garage with dirt floor.

32 ford frame, chyrsler drop cent front axle, 52 olds engine and hydro with a stand up rod for shifting, with a 49 olds rear and stolen buick white walls to get the wide thread. no floor, to speak of and an aircraft seat with out cushions. Wish i had it today ( a little safer of course)

Roll bar we dinint need no stinkin roll bar, tennies, levis, white tshirt and bubble helmet.

Today they are being duplicated, some good some bad. All is as usual in that respect. But many are a duplicate of history and it allows us modify it or park it crowd a chance to build some lowbuck cars. Of course the big boys have stepped in and are building mega buck ones. But they are show and trailer queens by the most part.

what counts is that the carnuts have gained some new blood, and like the Studewackos. A new supply means survival of the craft and passion. Ya don got to like mine, but as a carnut i like everybodys ride that is in the car grove.Be it a 49 Opel or a Jazzed vette, but i prefer studes (modified that is)

Jessie J.
09-19-2008, 08:48 AM
The term "Rat Rod" appears to have came to the fore during the '90s as a grass-roots reaction to those ultra high-buck professionally built "billet hot rods" that had for long dominated magazine coverage of "Hot Rods".
Kind of a internal protest movement to reclaim the fun side of our hot rodding heritage for the average young working man. It being recognised (by some, at least) that having fun with your ride did NOT have to entail having a $10k paint job, or the running a a brand-new supercharged, fuel-injected "crate" motor. Nope, just as much FUN could be had with old, original paint, bumps, lumps, and all, a discarded "flatty" or a traditional early OHV, and one really didn't NEED a 10k interior redo, when a Mexican blanket or a set of seat-cover would suffice to keep the seat springs from poking through.
With this change in attitude, thousands of old and ratty cars were brought out of that hibernation which they had so long endured while their owners had only dreamed of the day when they would finally have the means and time to "correctly" restore or "rod" them.
Tooling a primered / rust spotted survivor down the road with ones buddies is one heck of a lot more fun than letting it sit in the barn for another decade, waiting to get rich and retire, before spending your entire 401k to make it "acceptable" again.
Philosophically, Life is short, so go with what ya got, rather than waste it just waiting around for what you wish you had.