Rat rods go way back to the old style hot rods. Today’s hot rods are designed for speed and racing and show. A rat rod is basically a hot rod build without any real idea of how the vehicle should look. Each one is completely unique to the builder. They are not easy to build but the experience is fun and challenging.
Chose the type of engine you will use. This heavily depends on the type of frame you have and how much weight you will need your engine to push along. Really the biggest consideration is your budget. If you can afford to shop around for an engine, online a new, you will be looking for something based on performance specs. If you’re on a budget the best option is probably your local junk yard or pick-a-part.
Next you will have to either build or buy a frame. Rat rods allow a great deal of latitude here as long as your frame is strong enough no to fall apart under the pressures of speed. Whether you are building or buying light weight metals are the trend now but will cost you a lot more.
Now, its time to mount the engine to the frame and get your power components operational. These components’ include things like battery, transmission, wheels and axles. If you’re starting your rod with a junked car finding these parts will be easy and you may still have operational ones attached to the frame. If not any junk yard will have what you need. Things like an electrical system are after thoughts. A true rat rod usually isn’t street legal.
Now that you have all the components’ installed, test to make sure the engine will start, run and turn the wheels. Once you have that accomplished and everything is working to your satisfaction the rest of the rod is easy.
You’re almost finished. Install the steering control, gas and brake pedals. Exactly where you place them is up to you. Again, your rat will not necessarily be street legal. You do however have to make room for a seat that can reach all of the controls.
This is the last step. Finish up the body and interior. The inside can be as fancy as you wish, or not, but keep in mind that anything that you add also adds to the weight. If you add body panels, keep in mind that they should either increase or decrease you aerodynamics, or, like a spoiler, increase your tire grip. Any body panels will also increase weight. And painting frames does not increase your speed.
Rat rods are fun to build and race. Simple to build and maintain and a good time for the whole family.