By highly exaggerated jalopies, we mean cars that are built to look poorly done on purpose, usually thrown together from old junk parts, and are usually poorly constructed as well as being built with little regard for safety. When the rat rod movement began it started out being closer to the traditional hot rod movement that exists today. Yeah, there was a lot going on, and back in the hot rod world was dominated by a trend that was known as Pro Street. However, par for the course, some took it too far and what started out as something cool, fun and unique ended up becoming a parody of itself by the late s. By most of the Pro Street cars were now trailered to shows, never driven on the street, had insanely unnecessary oversized rear tires, and lots of chrome and blowers on stock internal motors.
On the Storm King Highway — a four-mile stretch of Route that snakes along foot cliffs overlooking the Hudson River and passes the United States Military Academy at West Point — drivers must resist staring into the breathtaking vistas, even while keeping their distance from the low stone wall that serves as a guardrail. To Mr. Duvaloois, 62, rat rods like his home-built pickup represent a return to the roots of hot-rodding. Rat rod builders embrace vehicles that display a rebellious attitude, along with loud manners and an intentionally distressed appearance, not necessarily the qualities needed to deal with a demanding road better suited to sports cars or motorcycles.
What exactly is a rat rod? Ask five different rat rodders and you might get five different answers. At the most basic level, a rat is a classic car that has not been restored.