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Behind the Scenes with Scotty Gosson

Spitting on the Status Quo to Preserve Tradition: Punk Rock Idealism on Wheels
by Scotty Gosson
From the shade of hot rodding’s detailed underbelly crawled the rats, satisfied and licking their chops after feasting on the pretentious carcass of billet decadence. It was too easy. The set-up may have been accidental, but the punchline was still delivered with a rimshot and a grin.

That’s how I came to see the rat rods, after accepting the assignment to write their story for CarTech. I suspect I got the gig based on my long history as a beater devotee. Whether the marketing department thought that might give me some credibility with the rats and their fans, or the accounting department figured it meant I’d do it cheaper than anyone else, I do not know. Of course, they were both right. My bucksdown rodding sensibilities lent just enough street cred to break the ice with rat rod builder/owners. And the accountants were right about how hungry I was, but it ultimately didn’t matter, as I was the only one willing to put this hot potato on my plate and swallow it whole. I also knew this was as close as I’d ever get to penning the great American beater epic.

Lauded magazine scribe Tim Bernsau wrote a foreword for the book, titled, “Rat is in the Eye of the Beholder”, wherein he challenged me to define rat rods and their mission statement. Definition is only possible in the broadest terms, as rats scatter like the rest of the leaves on rodding’s family tree at the mention of being analyzed and categorized for mass consumption. Like the gow job jockeys before them, rats are just creative types, blowing off steam in an artful fashion. Their medium is crusty steel and the message is an overdue reminder not to take ourselves too seriously. There’s your mission statement.

Out on the street, a family reunion of sorts convened before me. I found the spawn of hot rod pioneers right where I’d last seen their forefathers, on Any Street, USA. Today, people call ‘em Rat Rods. They’ve turned up the wick on the humor aspect and the visuals, but the beater ethos lives on beyond the name change. And if the rats continue to reproduce at the current rate, the future of hot rodding appears a bit more accessible and therefore, secure.

Here’s some out takes from the Rat Rods book. Check ‘em out and discuss among yourselves.

Are these hot rods?


Photo by Scott Parkhurst


Photo by Scotty Gosson

Are these rat rods?


Photo by Rory Bright


Photo by Scotty Gosson


Are these customs?

Photo by Japo Santos

Photo by Colin Surbert

Rat Rods

Find more stories like this in the book: RAT RODS: RODDING'S IMPERFECT STEPCHILDREN

Get your copy here!

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