Rat Rods - Should You Build One Or Buy One?

There are plenty of rat rods for sale these days, but is the real joy in this automotive niche owning one, or building one?
Rat Rods - Should You Build One Or Buy One?

I’ve got to be up front and honest with everyone - I’m not a big fan of rat rods. That shouldn’t suggest I don’t appreciate them or understand the cool factor that goes with the genre, but I view rat rods as art cars; each one is a unique expression of the person - or ‘artist’ - who built it. I can totally dig them in that sense, but when it comes to motoring, I appreciate elegant lines and stout performance over the mad-scientist-meets-redneck presence of a rat rod. Nothing personal to those who love them; I’m just not a fan.

Rat Rods - Should You Build One Or Buy One?

I think it’s because the original rat rods in the ‘40s and ‘50s were genuine motorised Frankensteins. They weren’t designed to look like barely-there barnyard projects, they were barely-there barnyard projects. Builders didn’t have parts or cash to make them better, whereas modern rat rods generally have a fair amount of cash invested to make them look like they don’t have a fair amount of cash invested. Like I said, I get the concept. It just doesn’t really click with me.

Rat Rods - Should You Build One Or Buy One?

And now I’ll contradict myself completely, because this 1929 Ford Model A rat rod for sale in Louisiana does click with me. I’m not falling in love or anything, but I swear the computer actually growled as I came upon this while browsing the U.S. listings on eBay. As I type this article it’s selling for a reserve-not-met price of $8100, with three days left on the auction. Coming from someone who’s not really into rat rods, I’d say that’s a fair price given what little info I have on this particular car.

Rat Rods - Should You Build One Or Buy One?

Those details include a 383 cubic-inch (6.2-litre) V8 with a Turbo 350 three-speed automatic transmission. The tranny is listed as having a 3000 stall torque converter so I suspect it’s pretty quick off the line. It’s got a bagged rear suspension which certainly gives this rod a properly slammed look, and the seller says it has new wheels and tyres. But since they’re supposed to look old and busted, not really sure that matters much.

Unfortunately, that’s all we know about this obviously custom-built car. It wouldn’t be a Christopher Smith found in the classifieds if I didn’t complain about the listing, so this time I’ll be complaining about the ALL CAPS font used to convey that little bit of info. I suppose it’s informative enough to grab people’s interest, and there is a phone number to call for folks who are serious buyers, but it wouldn’t hurt to share a bit more info. How about the frame? Rear end? A few tidbits on the build perhaps? After all, it’s the build that makes these cars interesting.

Rat Rods - Should You Build One Or Buy One?

I haven’t followed the market for rat rods too closely, but I do know they can be all over the place price-wise. I’ve seen plenty go for under $10,000, while others with a bit more effort beneath the rusty facade nab $50,000 or more. I’m not sure I see this particular rod going past $10,000, and I tell you what, for that price I think this could be all hell kinds of fun. I’d actually smooth up the body some and throw a legitimate coat of paint on it, maybe semi-gloss black or a deep blue. Paint the wheels to match and find a better looking grille. Now we’re talking.

Rat Rods - Should You Build One Or Buy One?

Yeah, that kind of work isn’t what rat rods are about. But you know what? Maybe Frankenstein would’ve been a nicer guy if he’d had a nice suit to wear. The question is, should rat rod enthusiasts forego the temptation to just buy one like this and build their own instead?



Build :)

03/05/2016 - 08:09 |
6 | 2


03/05/2016 - 08:15 |
4 | 2

If you have plenty of Money and you want to have one just buy that one. I think it looks also pretty cool in a deep blue.

03/05/2016 - 08:17 |
2 | 0
Dude McDubbs

Like you said in your post, it’s a reflection of the builders personality. So i’d have to say: build one. Make it proper like in the 50s. Take an old car and make it yours, it does not have to be expensive. If you’ve been to car meets you have propably seen some euro cars like mk2 / 3 Golfs that have been turned into some kind of rat rod. I’m not a big fan of rat rods, but i would build one just for the s#its and giggles ;-)

03/05/2016 - 08:25 |
0 | 0
Delightful Citizen (Classic Truck Squad)

Build. My dad has beef with them because he claims they take little skill to build. I know he’s biased because he’s a master body tech, but I tend to agree that they are much easier to throw together than the average classic.
To answer your question, building is generally cheaper as well as more fun.

03/05/2016 - 08:50 |
18 | 0
Simon Rahe

It really depends on your level of
time, money and skill.
I personally would buy one and then modify it for my needs.

03/05/2016 - 08:55 |
0 | 0

Build one, or buy one and rebuild.

03/05/2016 - 11:12 |
0 | 0

Build, rat rods are cool because two are never the same.

03/05/2016 - 11:13 |
0 | 0

If you’re gonna buy one, make some changes to make it your own.

03/05/2016 - 11:31 |
0 | 0

Has to be build, ‘cause I can see no joy in owning one!

03/05/2016 - 11:46 |
4 | 0

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