Over the years since the invention of the hot rod that comprised old car parts joined and modification of an engine and body parts, various types or classification of the hot rod have come up. Some of these types include rat rod cars and custom cars. These two types of hot rod cars have many similarities mainly because they have the same origin.
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Like any other hot rod manufacture, the two types named above have used body parts from different makes of cars and engine swapping is not something foreign to any of them. However, differences have emerged in both technologies leading to the different names given to the two cars.
Accordingly, the rat rod has proven to be the more preferable on the grounds of functionality, performance, and the ability to provide an opportunity to the builder to explore their mechanical abilities. This paper labors to show the superiority of the rat rod over the custom car on these three grounds.
A rat rod is a style of car customization that involves putting together various car parts to come up with a drivable device or a car. On the other hand, a custom car is usually a passenger vehicle built from ground-up creating a flow then changing the engine and transmission system to improve performance.
The classifications of different types of hot rods aforementioned led to differences in their features in terms of performance, functionality, and the opportunity available to mechanics to modify the cars. Functionality implies the ability of the modified car to fulfill the purpose of the manufacturer while performance is an indication of the level of efficiency of the modifications done on the vehicle.
The different types of hot rod cars present different opportunities to the mechanics depending on the dynamic modifications that they can perform to the car. The more the opportunities available, the more dynamic designs a customizer has the opportunity to design.
Custom builders and Rat Rod builders both belong to a general class of typical American cars known as Hot rods, but the Rat rod car is more functional, is a higher performing vehicle, and allows builders to demonstrate greater mechanical abilities, thus a better car than a custom car.
Rat rod cars were modified generally for driving and not to show off. This implies that not much attention is paid to the other functionalities of beauty or appearance, but the basic concept is to ensure that the manufactured vehicle can be driven.
The different parts that make up a rat rod could be collected from spare parts of different makes of cars, which allow maximization of the different good qualities of those original makes of cars. The custom made cars, on the other hand, does not have the primary function of drivability as the rat rod. The focus is usually beauty and the quality of the finished car parts even though modifications are done on the car (Scheller, 2006, p.16).
Custom cars are delicate and meant for shows, and therefore, much attention is given to the form and appearance of the finished product. Most of the custom cars are modified for shows and not for driving; hence; they do not fulfill the function of a car. The main goal of building custom cars is appearance, that is, eye-catching exteriors.
Rat rods involve joining old steel vehicle parts that are sometimes from un-roadworthy vehicles to make a moving automobile, which is the basic functionality. The parts involved may be made out of any metal. A rat rod is said to have many less important parts removed and composed of a mixture of parts of different makes, models and aftermarket parts (Villicana, 2007).
Rat rods are unlike what other hot rods have evolved to be, that is, untouchable, ‘undriveable’ or expensive.-Therefore, rat rods can be driven around almost at any type of roads like gravel or rocky terrains. There is not much worry about the possibility of damage to the vehicle involved.
The custom cars, on the other hand, are light and made out of aluminum sheet metals with addition of lead to give a smooth form and a better finish of the paint (Marian, 1985, p.14). Custom cars are usually painted unusual colors, and to them, painting is considered important. The delicate coats of paint and the slender finish make custom cars suitable only for shows and exhibitions and not for driving on the roads around.
A custom car cannot be driven on any road; actually, in most cases cannot be driven at all Further on functionality, rat rods are manufactured out of steel thus tend to be more durable in comparison to the delicate custom cars. They are made out of body parts from other cars; sometimes they are incomplete leading to them being more durable.
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They also receive very little modification in the form of painting or change of body parts and fact; they may be sometimes incomplete. This means that one can have a car on the road that can be driven but lacking one or several body parts; for example, a bumper. Custom cars modification is mainly on the body parts although importance is also attached to engine performance.
Custom cars are made out of very light and less durable materials since their primary purpose is to show off and not driving. Further, the interiors of custom cars are usually stylish and beautiful to look at. On the other hand, the interiors of the rat rods are designed mainly for functionality without much attention to the comfort of the driver.
Some of them may be fully finished while others may be comprised of barebone forms and Mexican blankets with bombers seats forming the basis. This forms a collection of very durable materials that can go a long way before any replacement compared to the custom cars whose interior, like other parts of the car, is delicate and less durable (Hot Rods, 2007).
The interior is homemade and meant for off-street engagements; thus the main goal is its functionality. The performance of rat rods surpasses that of the custom cars. They may be fitted with engines with varying displacement and modifications like the Chrysler Hemi engines or small block V8’s from any manufacturer (National Street Rod Association, 2011).
Initially, custom cars used flathead as the most preferred but later began using early Hemi. However, custom cars seemed to have sacrificed the performance of engines with SB Chevy due to the cheap spare parts and ease of maintenance (DynoValve Connects at SEMA, 2010). They have also shifted focus to beauty and cosmetics instead of working on increasing engine power.
The custom car has followed the tradition of swapping engines all along with history. Another area of difference between custom cars and rat rods lies in their suspensions. The custom cars have the engine over the suspension where it is mainly involved in transverse suspensions to allow the car to ride low leading to the poor braking system.
The rat rod, on the other hand, can use either transverse, parallel, or coil setup springs both in the front and in rear ends of the car (Lambert, 2010, p.34). The other advantage is that rat rods may sometimes have airbag suspension meaning that, it is possible to raise or lower the car. This feature makes a rat rod more preferable considering that both the rat rod and the custom car are very low.
The engine for the rat rod like any other hot rod is placed before the front suspension (Villicana, 2007). This suspension system has improved the damping and braking system for rat rods to handle the improved power for the car. The improved tire traction helps to enable the rat rods to hold the road firmly. The front and rear suspensions make it possible for the car to be four-wheel driven hence improved performance.
Concerning the last ground, while custom cars have adopted the concept of a beautiful and sleek finish to the car, rat rod cars are considered mechanically able because they are built squarely at the discretion of the builder. Therefore, a custom car is limiting to the customizer and regardless of their creativity, the standard is already set and does not change, for example, the old tradition of hot Roding of fine art flame jobs which is expensive and complicated is still upheld in building custom cars.
They focus less on the functionality of the cars thus easier to build. The customizer does not have many options to create his/her ideas in building a custom car unlike when building a rat rod car where the customizer can collect spares from any car and join them. Rat rod cars are not built with essential concerns of beauty and cosmetics but the main goal of drivability or functionality.
Building a car through piecing together parts from different sources with the main goal of making it drivable makes building a rat rod complicated (Guttormson, 2011). However, it does not have to be finished in terms of paint or bodyworks like in the case of a custom car; as long as it can be driven, then it qualifies to be a rat rod car
The spare parts from old cars or road unworthy vehicles are easily available while the materials used in the manufacture of custom cars are expensive. Custom cars have become just a show for the financially able as the painting and customization constitutes a high cost in the affair.
However, a rat rod uses old materials implying that it is much easier and cheaper to manufacture since the body parts from older cars are readily available. The customizers can, therefore, not be limited by finances and they can explore their mechanical ability. Any parts obtained at whatever cost, of whatever design, make a rat rod generally cheap because it does not have to be complete, or painted for it to be driven.
Rat rod cars present an opportunity for the builders to model cars that are yet to be built by anyone else. Custom builders have stuck to the manufacturing of beautiful cars with a perfect finish on the body of the car. In the light of the insights given here, rat rod cars are therefore better than custom cars because they are more functional, are high performing vehicles, and allow builders to demonstrate greater mechanical abilities in their hunger for new designs.
DynoValve Connects At SEMA. (2010). The Pak Banker. Web.
Guttormson, M. (2011). How to Build a Rat Rod. Web.
Hot Rods. (2007) Rat Rods. Web.
Lambert, L. (2010). Rat Rod Rockers. Journal Newspaper, 35(453), 34.
Marian, D. (1985). Affordable Aluminum V8’s. Hot Rod Magazine, 6, 12-14.
National Street Rod Association. (2011). A Giant Leap Forward-the power train has arrived. Web.
Scheller, G. (2006). American Hot Rod: The Fine Art of the Custom Hot Rod. New York: Universe.
Villicana. S. E. (2007). Rat Rods: roll through the South Valley. Knight Ridder Tribune Business News. Web.