What Is A Rat Rod?
This is not an easy question to answer. The answer varies somewhat depending on who you ask. For the sake of clarity, I will offer up my own explanations by offering definitions of most of the common motor vehicles described as "Rods".
Hot RodA hot rod is defined by some as a pre-1949 automobile which has been modified in ways to use modern components. The body is painted and the interior would be fully finished. An abundance of chrome parts and big tires, is the norm. I tend to agree with a more general definition of hot rod. Anything built to go fast, or look fast, despite it''s cosmetic condition, is a hot rod. All of the cars described on this website whether rat rods, muscle cars, or street rods, are still hot rods.
Street RodAccording to SEMA, a street rod is an altered vehicle manufactured before 1949 or manufactured after 1949 and altered to resemble a 1948, or before, vehicle. In both cases, the vehicle has been altered from it''s original design or has a body constructed of non-original materials.
Rat RodA rat rod is considered by some to be a pre-1949 American vehicle which has been finished to look like it was built by a 1940''s hot-rodding enthusiast. Exterior paint is usually absent, or at most, primer or flat black finish. There is little or no chrome and the interior is unfinished. Again, I am going with a more general definition. Any year, well-used looking American car or truck can qualify, except mini-vans (yuck). The only foreign cars I would include are mid-1970''s and before VW Bugs and older Micro-Bus (vehicles of the Dead Head).
You can also find additional information on Rat Rods at Wikipedia: Rat Rod
Muscle CarA muscle car is a 1960''s or 1970''s American vehicle with and over-sized engineand powerful drive-train. A muscle car can have factory original paint or a custom paint job. The power to weight ratio of a muscle care is very high and the muscle car is well-suited to drag racing. However, there were plenty of muscle cars manufactured throughout the 80''s and 90''s and modern muscle cars, such as the Corvette Dodge Viper are still manufactured. Therefore, it''s only fair to expand the muscle carcategory to 1960''s and after.
Despite what so called experts may agree on regarding how to classify your car, the fact of the matter is its your car. You can call it whatever you want. Just remember, hot rodding, or whatever you want to call it, is all about having fun!!