Thursday, March 20, 2014

Detroit AutoRama: Rat Rods

The AutoRama Extreme display in Cobo Hall's basement was way fun. There was a great vibe down here. It was a notably younger crowd than the top-flight builds upstairs. Everybody seemed to be having a great time hanging out and looking at each others cars. Rat rods have a few different connotations for folks. On the one hand, they give off a real old-school vibe of hot rods built the way they used to be built once upon a time. Old cast-off car frames with a big engine and no apologies. On the other hand, sometimes "rat rod" seems to come in as an excuse for "badly built car."

In any case, cool is in the eye of the beholder. All I know is that some of these cars I saw in the AutoRama Extreme display in the basement were way cool.

And frankly, this batch look as if they're hanging out on a street corner smoking a cigarette.

Let's visit a few of my favorites, and you can decide how you feel about 'em yourself.  First up, this 1947 Austin Sheerline "125".  Shame on me for not getting the name of the owner, but it was one of my favorite cars in the entire show:

I could re-type the info, but the writing on the window says it all.  My favorite part? "It is finished!"

No need for costly re-chroming here!

Next up, alas, yet again another case in which I didn't get the owner's name, but I guarantee that whoever he is, he put as much work into this Chevy pickup as any of the shinier trucks on the main floor:

Sometimes builders will talk about stitching together a car. I've never seen the term applied so literally.

The detail on the inside of the cab was equally impressive. This truck drew a real crowd and not a single one failed to point out the arm rest.

Kevin Gill of Ooltewah, Tennessee, brought this 1929 Ford Roadster to the show. They don't get any more old-school than this.....

... unless, of course you're talking about this 1929 Ford Roadster owned by Steve Sabotka of St. Clair, Michigan. The Mexican blanket on the seat is what really pulls this decor scheme together.

Here's another great rat-rod pickup, a 1952 Dodge Pickup owned by Glen Vierheilig of Clinton Township.

There were quite a few old pickups in the rat-rod section. You might think this is just the predictable meeting of the current rat-rod and classic pickup trends, but pickups really do seem to make an ideal platform for rat-rodding.  I suspect its a combination of rugged looks suiting the rat-rod aesthetic and the capacity of a strong pickup frame to handle a wide variety of engines and suspensions.

Rat rods often feature a ton of detail. I love the diamond-plate steel flames cut out around the radiator of the 1961 REO rod.

I've got to be honest. Sometimes the details don't always come together smoothly.  Of course, that might've been the idea for this 1947 Chevy pickup owned by Robert Pope.

Another great old-school build: 1937 Fiat owned by Gerry Scarborough of Clarkston, Michigan. I love the old winged motometer on the radiator.

By the time I reached the back corner of AutoRama's basement, my only disappointment was that I hadn't seen a single MG in the entire show.  I mean, I get it. Detroit is the Motor City and American Iron rules the day.  But it still would've been nice to see one relative of my the FUN MG during its long winter slumber.

And then, in the farthest corner of the basement....

It's a 1957 MGA with a 283 V8 shoved in the engine bay. This barn find didn't look as if it had moved under its own power in quite some time. The sign on it said it was owned by "Singlefinger" (yeah, beats me, too) and was apparently built by two unknown boys from Marysville, Michigan.  I have no idea if the owner is planning to do anything with it, but if they go for the full rat-rod treatment, I picked up the ideal replacement for this logo at the Speedcult custom steel images booth:

Now all I've gotta do is build a rat rod around it!

Tomorrow? The Patio Boat Blog's final batch of photos from the 2014 Detroit AutoRama: The Leftovers - Cycles, Exotics, and Oddities.


  1. the 47 chevy rat rod looked much better when i sold it.

  2. the 47 chevy rat rod looked much better when i sold it.

  3. I'd love to see how it turned out if you have a link to a picture.