Hollywood Rat Rod

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This ’31 Ford has a very industrial look that makes it unique as a car and as a work of art. It may look like a 1931 Ford but is composed mostly of alien parts. In fact, the parts list is more like the one in Johnny Cash’s song, “One Piece at a Time.” Nevertheless, it is auto art in motion.

This Hollywood Rat Rod is cobbled together using a 275 hp 1952 Ford Diamond Rio tractor motor (with a crazy 1600 foot-pounds of torque), old Hollywood municipal light poles as frame rails, and the tips of steel-toed boots as air scoops. Many other non-automotive parts have gone into this rat rod, including fence post wishbones, Helm joints from a Lear jet, and a World War II hand grenade gearshift knob.

A Car That Attracts Awe and Admiration

Hollywood Rat RodOh sure, it has many automotive parts, too–like an old farm truck rear end, 1942 Buick headlights, and airbags from an obsolete LA city bus that lifts the rat rod about nine inches.

Owner Henry Kessler says he loves his car, and that’s understandable. He managed to turn all those strange parts into a rare beauty that attracts attention and admiration. The throaty sound of the motor is exactly what you’d expect from a car that looks like this, so it is a pleasure to see and hear.

The Hot Rod Spirit

Kessler has a great attitude about his rat rod. He says that most hot rodders put $150,000 into their car and they don’t want anyone near it. He is just the opposite. When someone asks to take a picture of his rat rod at a car show, he encourages them to put their kids behind the wheel for the photo. Most people are shocked at that kind of generosity. Why does he do it? He says, “That’s how you get the next generation into wanting to get into the car culture.”

Kessler has been building custom cars since the 1980s and has gained a reputation for his attention to detail and willingness to push the boundaries of traditional hot rodding. He often uses a mix of salvaged and new parts in his builds, and his cars are known for their unique designs and features. In addition to building cars, he is also a collector of automotive memorabilia, with a large collection of vintage signs, gas pumps, and other items related to the history of the automobile.

A Place In Automotive History

The rat rod is a style of hot rod or custom car that emphasizes a rough, unfinished appearance and often features salvaged or repurposed parts, as we see in this fine example. The history of the rat rod can be traced back to the 1950s and 1960s, when hot rodding was becoming popular among young car enthusiasts.

At that time, some hot rodders began experimenting with creating cars that looked rough and unfinished, often using older, cheaper vehicles as the basis for their creations. These cars were usually referred to as  “jalopies,” and they were often built on a shoestring budget. Later, many adopted the term “rat rod” because it is far more cooler that the word jalopy.

The term “rat rod” became widely used in the 1990s, when a new generation of car enthusiasts began to rediscover and embrace the raw, stripped-down aesthetic of these early hot rods.

Today, the rat rod continues to be a popular style among car enthusiasts, with many builders and enthusiasts pushing the boundaries of what can be considered a rat rod. While some purists argue that the true rat rod must be built on a tight budget and with salvaged parts, others are willing to use more expensive components and modern technology to create their own interpretations of the style. Rat rods are always fan favorites at car shows and on the street.

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