Exclusive Content
Original Shows, Motorsports and Live Events
Due to the EU’s Global Data Protection Regulation, our website is currently unavailable to visitors from most European countries. We apologize for this inconvenience and encourage you to visit www.motortrend.com for the latest on new cars, car reviews and news, concept cars and auto show coverage, awards and much more.MOTORTREND.COM

Top 10 Diesel (and Gas) Rat Rods

We round up our top 10 favorite diesel- and gas-powered rat rod builds from over the years.

Sep 4, 2020
Wikipedia defines a rat rod as "a custom car with a deliberately worn-down, unfinished appearance, typically lacking paint, showing rust, and made from cheap or cast-off parts. These parts can include non-automotive items that have been repurposed, such as using a rifle as a gear shifter, wrenches as door handles, and old saws as sun visors. A rat rod may or may not have extraneous decorations but will always exude a great deal of personality due to the imagination required of the builder." And while we would typically shy away from quoting almost anything from the crowd-sourced internet encyclopedia, we feel they have nailed this one.
With that in mind, let's take a look back at 10 of our favorite diesel- and gas-powered rat rod builds from the TruckTrend Network archives. Enjoy!
Photo 2/11   |   01 Top 10 Diesel Rat Rods

1936 Ford

It sounds like every ZZ Top song you ever heard: "Tush," "La Grange," "Tube Snake Boogie,"... and yes, the MTV ones, too. That voice, that drawl, it's the sound of Billy F. Gibbons. "The little '36 was parked in Louisville, Kentucky," says Billy as he throws his mind back to when he first spotted his Ford. "It was alongside some of Kirby Stafford's pals' rides, all ratted out and raunchy."
Photo 3/11   |   02 Top 10 Diesel Rat Rods

1993 Chevy S-10 Blazer

Movies can often impact our lives in a creative and positive way. And that's exactly what happened to Ryan Shippy of Kansas City, Missouri. "The movie Mad Max was just released, and I wanted to go see it," Ryan tells Truckin. "I was fascinated with the mayhem and madness these vehicles symbolized." Ryan had a couple of trucks at his house, but one in particular became the focus of his motivation: a '93 Chevy Blazer S-10.
Photo 4/11   |   03 Top 10 Diesel Rat Rods

1928 Ford Model A Pickup

Mike Burroughs, editor-and-chief of custom auto site Stanceworks, wanted to break out of convention with his one-of-a-kind restomod of a 1928 Ford Model A pickup. The truck follows the basic hot-rod formula by being powered with a V-8 engine, but there's not much else that follows hot-rodding convention with this project.
Photo 5/11   |   04 Top 10 Diesel Rat Rods

1982 Chevy S-10

Before you ask, "What in God's name is this THING doing in Mini Truckin'?!" sit back and take a load off. This vehicular mashup is a minitruck, or at least it used to be. It's still registered as an '82 S-10, but without taking a closer inspection, who would've guessed?
Photo 6/11   |   05 Top 10 Diesel Rat Rods

1937 International

When we think of a rat rod, we picture a vintage car or pickup put together with parts that were lying around the house but look awesome cruising down the street. Keith Northrup of Kirkland, Washington—yup, the same town that has flags for crossing the street—went above and beyond with his rat rod build. The Trophy Rat, as it's aptly named, features a full trophy truck-style chassis with the awesome-looking sheetmetal from a 1937 International Pickup.
Photo 7/11   |   06 Top 10 Diesel Rat Rods

1960 Ford F-100

People told Matt Tucker the '60 Ford F-100 pickup you see here was unsalvageable and shouldn't even be considered a parts truck. With a clean title in hand, he loaded the straight-framed "Effie" onto his flatbed trailer while ignoring those who laughed at the purchase. Sure, the engine was junk, the cab floor was completely gone, the interior was missing, and the bed was trashed, but Matt saw the pickup as a challenge. Since he works as a farmer and runs a small diesel repair shop when he's not in the field, Matt figured he'd have some fun with spare parts that were lying around.
Photo 8/11   |   07 Top 10 Diesel Rat Rods

1952 Chevy

Although we love seeing spotless show trucks with every detail addressed, there's something truly special about trucks that embrace their imperfections as a sign of character. Every dent, scratch, or scrape tells a story, and each truck's weathered patina shows its age with pride. This is the case with Jason Torchia's 1952 Chevrolet pickup. Through the use of a few tasteful modifications, Jason managed to turn it into a truck that both looks its age and remains relevant alongside newer models.
Photo 9/11   |   08 Top 10 Diesel Rat Rods

1938 Chevy

Art Gomez of GO-EZ Customs in Anaheim, California, got his mitts on this 1938 Chevy in 2006 and tried to retrofit an existing frame for it, but tweaking and correcting it to fit proved to be an annoyingly painful process. The solution was simple: scrap the existing rolling chassis altogether and create one from scratch. The process proved to be simpler, and the truck now sits on a platform that makes more sense. Even though the "ratty" hauler is well on its way to rolling on its own power, it looks good mowing through traffic atop GO-EZ's shop tow pig—a '66 Chevy C-20 that breaks just as many necks. If you live in the Southern California area, be on the lookout for this rat rod at a local cruise night soon.
Photo 10/11   |   09 Top 10 Diesel Rat Rods

1940s Vintage Mack

Miami, Florida's Jos Lugo is fully aware of this change in attitude and is a big fan, with four handbuilt patina creations in his past and the fifth finally ready for the camera. Jos works in his family's electrostatic industrial painting business and specializes in powdercoating. He regularly makes cool rides look even better and loves the challenge. The project vehicle presented on these pages got its start thanks to a junkyard excursion that uncovered the perfect find: a '40s vintage Mack semitruck cab, intact but displaying just the right amount of patina.
Photo 11/11   |   010 Top 10 Diesel Rat Rods

1931 Ford Fordor

The first half of the build began with a 1931 Ford Fordor body Jason found in Summerville, South Carolina. Since a small-block Chevrolet engine didn't fit the image, he purchased a 1993 Dodge Ram D3500 dually pickup to serve as the donor vehicle. The adventure began by stripping the Dodge, retaining only the 12v Cummins engine and 46RH transmission, then selling the rest. He used the same approach with the vintage Ford, keeping just the body. The real challenge was creating a platform to join the two.

POPULAR TRUCKS

MOST POPULAR

CLOSE X
BUYER'S GUIDE
SEE THE ALL NEW
NEWS, REVIEWS & SPECS