Wednesday, July 27, 2011

From a guy "who was there" (old entry saved)

In the past year or so , there has been a lot of controversy over the term "rat rod". In the modeling world, this is pretty hard to define since a lot of guys that build these "Sewer Dwelling Mammal Rods" , are just ordinary model builders and don't necessarily stick to one style of modeling ,nor have any experience with 1:1 rods. Anyone can throw a '49 Ford together with black primer and red rims and WHAM!, all the sudden a new "rat rod" is born......I tend to disagree with that. I thought to better confirm my thoughts and opinions on this matter, I should ask "a guy who was there". I called on my friend Darryl Gassaway, who was born back in the day and was raised around the real thing in California. Darryl has pretty strong feelings about this as any real rodder would!Bob B.- Darryl, I would like to know your opinion on hot rod modeling. Since you were there, please tell me your opinion on "rat rods"?Darryl G.- Rat Rods, are they good or bad for the hobby?I know my stand on the issue of "Rat Rods" may not be popular, but it is based on the fact that I grew up in Southern California during the 50's and 60's and saw the real thing. The people that build rat rods think they are reliving a part of history, but in reality they are living a lie. They have developed a lifestyle that never existed. Yes, the guys wore levis and had cigarette packs rolled up in their sleeves of their T shirts or in their socks and yes, some even had a few tats, but that's where it ends. The girls have gone off the deep end with the tattoos and strange makeup.When it comes to the cars they really missed the boat. Yes, there were many unfinished cars on the road, but they were just that, unfinished. They were never intended to be left in bare metal or primer as a matter of fact they were never left in bare metal overnight because they would rust. Early rat rods were daily drivers that were projects in work. Yes, most were built with junkyard parts because that wasall that the owner's could afford. In those days owning a car was something special. Most families were lucky to have one car and if a kid in high school managed to own a car it was because he worked to buyit.That's where the rat rod look was born. Everyone wanted to have a cool ride so they started modifying their cars as soon as they got them. Engine modifications were expensive, but not unheard of. A trip to the local junkyard provided the car owner with inexpensive parts to hop up the engine. Body work was another thing all together. Fenders were removed in many cases, roofs chopped in some and forthe truly adventurous bodies were channeled. All of this took time and time was something that wasn't available when the car was a daily driver. This meant there were many cars in primer that were on the road.The attitude of the owners was different as well, they wanted their cars to look good not hideous. No self respecting car builder left weld seams showing, left rusted out body panels or drive his car without the protection of primer over bare metal. Their cars were their pride and joy and every cent they had went into making their car the best it could be. Every time I see a steel body hacked up to make one of today's rat rods I want to cry. It's one thing to make a hot rod, but quite another to make a P.O.S. onpurpose.When it comes to model building I've heard people say it's harder to make an accurate modern rat rod than a shinny hot rod, to that I say "no way". The products to make rusty bodies and weld seams have been available for all modelers to use for years. Has the rat rod fad been good for model car building? That question has yet to be answered, but it has gotten people building. Unlike most of therecent modeling fads I don't see rat rod building adding to the number of builders. Lowriders and tuners brought many younger builders to the hobby. As their modeling skills improved many graduated to other styles of model car building. Here in Southern California where the lowrider fad was started I see manymodelers who originally built lowriders now building customs, hot rods and even race cars. They learned how to build first then took what they learned to other types of models. I have never seen someone who wasn't a modeler first make a rat rod. As I see it building a rat rod is something you do when you want to do a quicky build where you don't have to spend hours detailing and polishing.There is one thing good about rat rod building, it keeps some modelers who otherwise wouldn't be building models building. Just like the 1:1 builders I think it's a waste of good plastic to take a perfectly good body and ruin it by going over the edge with body modifications. The only thing I have to say about rat rods is this fad too will pass and become less popular. Personally I can't wait for the day.Bob B.- Darryl, thank you for your time in responding. I see that , even though we are about 3 generations apart, we see pretty much the same thing. I don't know if i would call myself a true hot rodder....but true hot rods are what i like. I have to say one thing about rusted rods though...."in progress builds are cool, but taking something outside of automotive parts like a 5gallon bucket and using it for a seat just to see how "low buck" you can make your pretty lame."

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