Rat rods rock as rusty rides Peter Duvaloois poses with his Rat Rod in Saugerties, N.Y. The fast machines are pieced together from vintage parts and scrapyard finds. At left, he welds a battery box in his shop (  AP photos)
Rat rods rock as rusty rides
Lexile

Peter Duvaloois' rat rods are way cooler than your car.

The fast machines are pieced together from vintage parts and scrapyard finds. They also are rumblier, rustier and turn more heads on the highway.

That's pretty much the point of rat rods. They look like hot rods, from after the world has ended. While both are generally low-slung and loud, rat rods wear their rust proudly and never touch a buff cloth. Duvaloois is among a horde of creative gear heads expressing their affection for the vintage vehicles. The builders rearrange them into something both new and old-looking.

"I'm not particularly interested in how fast the truck will go," Duvaloois said with a laugh. "I'm interested in how cool it looks getting there."

Duvaloois is building a rat rod based on an orange '35 Ford public works truck at his garage. The place is called the Rat's Nest, and is about 90 miles north of New York City. The 63-year-old retiree has raced stock cars and built hot rods, but he likes the more easygoing, don't-worry-about-fingerprints-on-the-paintjob vibe of the rat rod crowd.

"I'll go to a show and a lot of times you'll have the shiny cars there and the signs all over them: 'Don't Touch! Don't Touch!'" he said. "I've had a whole Boy Scout troop go through my truck."

Rat rods have been around for decades. Some say the name stems from hot rodders dismissing the "ratty" looks of other cars. There is no formal definition. Many have low clearances, open wheels and round headlights flanking old-school grilles. Volume counts, too.

A rat rod is simply a blue-collar hot rod, argues Rat Rod Magazine editor Steve Thaemert.

"We're returning to the roots of hot rodding, basically, where you're trying to build something cool with what you had," Thaemert said. "You wanted it to be fast and you wanted it to be loud and aggressive. And it didn't have to be perfect. It was a poor man's entry into hot rodding."

Thaemert's magazine Facebook page has more than 1.5 million likes. The Web is full of pictures of enthusiasts' creations. Hundreds of rat rodders rumble in every summer for Duvaloois' Hudson Valley gatherings.

Duvaloois' current rat rod project should be ready to roll by the August gathering. The public works truck from the nearby City of Kingston is chopped down, shortened and has a '50 Olds Rocket engine under the hood. Duvaloois doesn't use blueprints. He says he can't draw. He uses paper cutouts and temporarily tacks the vehicle together to make sure it all fits.

This is the fourth rat rod Duvaloois created in seven years. His first was built from a '46 Chevy pickup a friend was going to scrap. The friend said there wasn't much left, and Duvaloois replied that's just what he wanted. He combined the hood, cab and grille from the old Chevy with a '52 Dodge hemi engine, a Camaro 5-speed transmission and other pieces.

"I get such a kick out of driving this thing," he said during a quick jaunt.

The old pseudo-Chevy gets 23 miles to the gallon on the highway, though mileage seems to be less important than the reactions he gets from passing cars.

"They're always smiling at you and pointing, especially little old ladies and kids," he said. "Rat rods have a cartoonish aspect to them, and little kids really pick up on that."

Critical thinking challenge: What makes rat rods seem cartoonish?

Assigned 18 times


COMMENTS (32)
  • R.A.Micheal
    12/22/2014 - 08:38 a.m.

    They are "cartoonish" because they look like old cartoon cars looked, like the ones that were all broken and jumpy, and that wiggled around and "coughed" in the cartoons.

  • SA2001orange
    12/22/2014 - 08:39 a.m.

    I think what makes rat rods cartoonish is how old they look, how Peter keeps the rust on all the cars, and how loud they usually are. He says that little kids really pick up on it.

  • wpapril30
    12/22/2014 - 01:12 p.m.

    the rat rod name sounds cartoonish and paint job also a set of wheel and a few parts and it will look cartoonish and also a car frame.

  • HudsonC-3
    12/24/2014 - 12:57 p.m.

    Rat rods are the new lemons. They are old cars rusted and ready to be scrapped taken apart and combined with other cars to make a working car. These cars are very pleasing to little kids. They do not have a perfectionist feel. They also have a comic book feel. Peter gets a lot of compliments on his cars but also gets a lot of dislikes. But without dislikes he could not improve them. I think Peter should make more rat rods.

  • ksadat-5
    12/26/2014 - 03:20 p.m.

    Peter duvaloois has created a vehicle called a rat rod. Rat rods are said to be much, much cooler than actual cars. The rat rods are built from old car in parts and scrapyard finds. Rat rods are said to look very much like hot rods, and attract a lot more attention. Peter is amongst the many of the creative engineers who want yo capture the look and recreate the appreciation of vintage cars.

    Out of all the things I have heard in my life, a rat rod is most certainly the weirdest. These fast road beasts are designed to look a lot like hot rods. Rat rods are unusually made from old car parts and scrapyard finds. According to many people, rat rods can attract a lot of attention, the good kind of attention.they make a rumbling noise that can turn lots of heads in that direction, like the heads that turn when a Lamborghini passes by.

  • LucasF-1
    12/26/2014 - 06:17 p.m.

    Is making cars out of trash.he's cars are being used by people to drive. The cars have appealed to many different people. They are slightly cartoonish and appeal to kids because they are silly. I think they are cool and very interesting.

  • AugustH-5
    12/26/2014 - 07:43 p.m.

    Rat rods are a very unique type of cars made to look cool. These cars are put together by vintage parts and junkyard finds. They are rusty to give a unique look and make your head turn when you see it rambling down the road. the builders have the rust to give it a old look and add some new parts to make to make it look new. This new and old look differentiates this car from others. I like the look of rat rods for reasons I can't explain.

  • angelv-Wre
    12/29/2014 - 09:53 p.m.

    I love this article because it's interesting and it shows us what
    He made when he was elder
    .And it is cool how the rat rod looked like and when it was made so I think he used his imagination to make these old butane new cars.

  • ConnorK-2
    1/02/2015 - 02:33 a.m.

    Rat rods are older, more rustic versions of hot rods. Duvaloois a sixty three year old has a passion for collecting and caring for these older looking cars. He says that when he goes to car shows, he sees signs saying "Don't touch, Don't touch." However, he allows many people to touch these ancient looking cars. The origin of the rat rod stems from the famous hot rod. Rat rod doesn't have an official definition for what it is, but the look is very rusty, bland, and dull, which has attracted the attention of some car enthusiasts. When on the road these rat rods attract a lot of attention and catches the ear of any passer- by. I like to hear that rustic looking cars are getting the same love as modern cars.

  • LaurenT-5
    1/02/2015 - 02:51 p.m.

    Peter Duvaloois has made rat rods that are pieced together from vintage parts and scrapyard finds. Rat rods wear their rust proudly and get many eyes on the road. Duvaloois is a hoarder of many parts to become vintage vehicles. He doesn't really care about the speed but how it looks. Hes not like everyone else when he goes to a car show with signs saying "no touching". Peter is perfectly fine with people going into his truck and touching it. He is 63 and retired and loves doing what he does. His cars give a cartoonist look when he rides them around, getting the attention of little kids. I think it is very cool what he is doing. It would be fun to ride in one of those.

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