Hollywood Rat Rod

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The Auto as Art

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.”

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. Lots of 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

Oh sure, it has lots of 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.”