1935 Ford Rat-Rod / Hot-Rod
“Pure evil and deliciously obscene. A mistress for the road if ever there was one. Your wife and girlfriend will hate it, your friends will beg you to sell it to them!”
239 cubic-inch, 1948 Ford Flathead V8 engine with Harrell intake manifold and twin Stromberg 97's, Ford C4 automatic transmission, 1932 Ford dropped front axle, live rear axle with transverse mounted leaf springs, four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 112-inches.
“Rat Rods” are meant to be driven and enjoyed. While they may look incomplete or unfinished to the traditional observer, the rough exterior and gritty outlaw character are all part of the appeal. It is a very elemental hot rodding experience and one that has enjoyed a boom in the 2000s, of which this particular truck was at the forefront.
Its builder Rudy Rodriguez was featured in American Rodder in 1991 with a '34 Coupe. While readers decried what they thought to be a “half done hot rod”, Rudy was well ahead of the curve. By 2002, when this truck was completed, it was certainly one of the first rat rods to receive attention in a major national hot rod magazine and helped kick off the rat rodding craze and sparked its own subculture of “bobber” or “Rudy” trucks, which now dot car shows and cruise nights nationwide.
Two years earlier, the project started after he bought a house with his wife and was forced to give up all his two-wheeled possessions. With nothing left in the garage to excite him, he used a '35 pickup cabin and a bed to start. He initially intended to build this truck as a project that he could sell, but as it evolved, he became more and more enamored with it and decided to continue.
The finished product is an amazing piece of artistry. It's been chopped and channeled seven inches, with the body sitting just two inches from the ground at its lowest point. The frame was shortened by taking 12 inches out of the middle and another six from the rear. The firewall was modified so the '48 Ford Flathead V8 could be raised higher and moved back. In Rodriguez's view, Flatheads typically sit too low, which makes them look smaller than they really are. From the raked '34 grille to the shortened bed, American Rodder described this truck best as a “good natured poke in the eye of the status quo… it's plain evil.” Nowhere is that more apparent than on the interior, with its “real” pistol-grip shifter and knife doubling as a vent-opener.
The professionally built engine is mated to a C4 automatic transmission with a nine-inch rear end and features Navarro polished heads, a Harrel intake manifold with twin Stromberg 97 carburetors. After finishing the project, Rudy's truck was also featured in DeLuxe magazine. Thereafter it was sold several times, with each owner changing the pin-striping and personalizing the artwork on the doors. It was even taken to Bonneville, where it was pictured on the salt. In 2008 it was returned home to Rudy's garage, where he personally executed a complete cosmetic restoration to its livery as he originally created it. American Rodder may have called it “raunchy” but it embodies rat rodding at its best.
Most of these beasts are simply that a beast that can barely be driven, not so with this one. It is an absolute delight in-town or on the open road. Handling, braking are up to modern world tasks and despite being so low to the ground, this one is both fully functional on the street as well as impossibly pure fun. Your neighbors are going to hate you for owning it but secretly wish it were part of their own collection!