Hot Rods, Street Rods, and Rat Rods

When he turned the key and that Winnebago motor fired up, it was loud, impressively loud, loud enough to rattle your teeth and tickle your innards.

Hot Rods, Street Rods, and Rat Rods
Mr. Mike and Lil' Miss Maggie

I'm not really a car enthusiast but I like anything out of the ordinary and appreciate it when someone has a passion for something. So, when I saw this car in the neighborhood, I had to find out about it. An excerpt from this Leland West Insurance article provided some insight:

"Rat rods are vehicles made in the ‘spirit’ of classic hot rods but in a more accessible, frugal, and creative fashion. A rat rod is typically built for the street, but unlike your standard street rod, they have much looser practices and may not even use custom items from the same era.

Most don’t consider rat rods a real category, but rather a term used for all hot rods that are either unfinished or have a less refined (or even hodge-podge) look about them.  Others say that rat rods are cars that imitate hot rods but are not an accurate re-creation or period-correct restoration of a classic hot rod or street rod. Both usages are relatively common."

By any definition, this sweet little holdout from history would definitely fall under the category of "rat rod". The baby of Mike Baradell, Mike is the ultimate genius in fabricating and repurposing found items, and some of them are included in this project. My son, who lives next door to Mike and his wife, Shelly, says Mike can fix anything.

Mike and Shelly are Southern hospitality personified. Apparently, once you've met them, you'll never be a stranger, since they welcomed me into their home like family after we were introduced. Their front yard is kid-friendly with swing sets and toys, and my grandson leaped from the car as soon as he was released from his car seat to run to 'Miss Shelly' when he saw her out in the yard. I had been a little mystified earlier in the day when a two-year-old said there was a tiger outside, until I found out that Mike and Shelly's cat was named Tiger!

Once I expressed an interest in the car, Mike enthusiastically began rattling off specs and statistics. Sorry, Mike, the only thing I can recall is that the car is a 1926(29?) Chrysler, and there was something about a Winnebago motor. Oh, and that his next goal was to get brakes on it. That struck me as pretty important, so I remember that. I was able to contribute to the conversation when talk turned to adding 'Lil' Miss Maggie' as a final touch when all else was finished and I asked if it was going to be a vinyl decal. When he turned the key and that Winnebago motor fired up, it was loud, impressively loud, loud enough to rattle your teeth and tickle your innards. Mike then thoughtfully asked if it had been bothering anyone when he had been running it earlier in the day.

It hadn't.

Even though I've always been more 'animal' than 'mechanical', I have to admit that the loud sound of raw power of any kind can be impressive, whether it's a diesel truck, a jet plane spooling up to make its run, or those low-flying Chinooks that you can hear coming for minutes before you see them, or in this case an engine with enough horsepower to propel a Winnebago down the road packed into a 1929 Chrysler.

But no matter whether I fully understood all the mechanical aspects, it was inspiring to see someone's joy in their project. We all need a 'Lil' Miss Maggie' in our lives.

Street Rods vs. Rat Rods vs. Hot Rods - Know the difference