Tag Archives: classic cars

The World of Rat Rods, Jalopies, and Patina Cars

For years now, Rat Rods have become a bigger and bigger part of the collector car hobby. While some people may not like them, I see them as being a great addition to the hobby.

Now let’s talk about Rat Rods. What really is a Rat Rod? Believe it or not, the term Rat Rod keeps expanding every year to the point now that there really isn’t a solid definition for them. It used to be a car that was assembled using scrap parts with very little fit or finish and with modifications that went to the extreme. Slammed roofs, channeled bodies, all rusted parts, and fabrication using anything you could find that would work to fit your needs.

These parts usually look like something that you would find in a metal scrap yard. Over the years, the Rat Rod has seemed to improve in quality. There are really talented metal fabricators constructing some really cool looking Rat Rods. Generally, the Rat Rod is becoming more refined. We are seeing cars that are built that may be a Rat Rod, but have less of an unfinished or aged look.

patina cadillac

Let’s fast forward several years. Now the term Rat Rod seems to be used for any car that is unfinished, but not being actively restored while being driven. I have heard people say that they “Rat Rodded their car out.” In my day, these types of cars were considered a Jalopy. So I still differentiate between the two.

rat rods

We also have the patina cars. These cars are very popular today. The cars basically look like an old car that has been around a long time with faded paint, some surface rust showing, and basically an all over weathered condition. However, the drivetrain, suspension and brakes have been upgraded for performance and drivability. You can even have brand new modern drive trains. It is relatively normal to see an old car like this with an LS, Coyote, or modern day Hemi engine in them.

1964 GTO jalopy

There are two ways to get a patina car:

1) Find an old car in this condition. This is easier said than done. You have to find one that is weathered but not a total rust bucket. If you do find one, you basically modify or replace the drive train and suspension and then drive the car as is after that.

2) Create your own patina. You can paint a car and wet sand it down so the primer is showing through in spots. Expose some bare metal so you get some surface rust. You can even paint signage on the door panels and then wet sand it down so it appears faded or has parts of the signage missing.

patina truck

Either way you do it, all of these are cool cars with some huge benefits. You don’t have to spend hours upon hours cleaning the car. The cost to build one is a lot less than a full blown show car. These cars get just as much attention and respect as does the 6 figure high-end show car. They also give the ability for people to get into the collector car hobby at a reasonable price.

Having fun is what it is all about. Now go out and buy or build an old car!

Driving Tour Draws the Classics

Spring weather rolled through the Ohio Valley just in time for the annual Spring Classic Driving Tour, providing the best Saturday of the month for classic, collector and sports car enthusiasts to get behind the wheel for a day of fun. This event is an embodiment of “the Journey is the Destination.” Participants meander across southwest Ohio on roads picked more for their character, scenery and lack of traffic than the direction of travel.

Apr 18, 2015: Motoring in Focus Spring Classic Driving Tour.

Photo courtesy of Jeff Loewe

This early season cruise came complete with moderate temperatures and cloudless skies, leading to a lot of top down motoring and the associated development of “Cabriolet tans.” In total, 86 cars (mostly sports cars) drove from the east side of Cincinnati for the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains — about 60 miles to the east in Adams County, Ohio.

Apr 18, 2015: Motoring in Focus Spring Classic Driving Tour.

Photo courtesy of Jeff Loewe

The area is geographically intense. The proximity of the Appalachian Mountains and ancient glaciation make for a landscape that reminds drivers why they bought a sports car. The elevation can change dramatically as the roads flash to and fro, following creeks through the gorges as they drop toward the Ohio River Valley.

The variety of cars entered this year made for quite a scene at the start of the event. About a dozen people showed up early just to enjoy the ad hoc car show before the start of the cruise!

Apr 18, 2015: Motoring in Focus Spring Classic Driving Tour.

Photo courtesy of Scott Tengen

Porsche was the most prolific brand on the tour, with 356, 912, 911, 944, Cayenne, Cayman and Boxster models on the road. VW was represented by a Karmann Ghia, a Thing, a Baja Bug modified Beetle and a fun loving group of car lovers having a good time. Several BMWs drove, including a Z8, Z4, M5 and 2002.

Apr 18, 2015: Motoring in Focus Spring Classic Driving Tour.

Photo courtesy of Jeff Loewe

MG owners turned out in TC, TD, TF, Y-type, Midget and MGB models to experience roads similar to those found in the UK. Almost as many Austin Healey enthusiasts made the grid in 100-6, 3000 and Sprite models, along with one Jensen Healey. Triumph drivers brought a variety of interesting machines — including TR3, TR250 and TR6 — to the party.

Apr 18, 2015: Motoring in Focus Spring Classic Driving Tour.

Photo courtesy of Scott Tengen

Ferrari’s 512TR, 575, 360 and 308 Dino, along with a Lamborghini Spyder, brought wonderful sounds and ultra-exotic coachwork. Other Italians included an Alfa Romeo Milano Verde and a classic GTV with a twin plug two-litre under the hood, a Fiat 500 and a Maserati Spyder. A Gran Turismo supplied more eye and ear candy.

Apr 18, 2015: Motoring in Focus Spring Classic Driving Tour.

Photo courtesy of Jeff Loewe

Corvettes came in the guise of C-3, C-4 and C-6, along with corporate performance mate Buick’s Grand National, bringing traditional American power (and plenty of it!).

Apr 18, 2015: Motoring in Focus Spring Classic Driving Tour.

Photo courtesy of Jeff Loewe

Additional machinery from Audi, Datsun, Dodge, Jaguar, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Mini, Morgan, Nissan GTR, Saab, Volvo spent the day winding along the ridges and through the valleys.  And a couple of grocery getter types tagged along with our rolling car show.

The number of entries prompted the organizers to plot two routes — one for late model cars and the other for vintage cars. The distinct routes allowed each group member to enjoy his or her car’s performance as originally intended.

The late model route went farther, faster, and included several legs on wide-open state highways, allowing the drivers to experience the strength of their machinery. The vintage cars concentrated on roads suited to smaller, lighter, ultra-nimble models. Three stops were planned for each route to allow the drivers and navigators to get out for a stretch and walk about — a necessity when traveling in cars made primarily for performance rather than comfort.

Apr 18, 2015: Motoring in Focus Spring Classic Driving Tour.

Photo courtesy of Scott Tengen

Finding facilities that can park 40-45 cars in a picturesque, rural county can be challenging. The organizers relied heavily on Adams County Convention & Visitors Bureau director Tom Cross for suggestions.

Each group visited an Amish market with a furniture outlet, bulk food store, sandwich shop, and bakeries filled with pies, cakes, breads, pretzels and other goodies. The Amish ladies will weave custom baskets too; several car owners were spotted measuring back seats and luggage racks to fit a basket that could be filled with pies for a safe journey home.

Antiquing is prevalent in the area and is a fitting breather from some of the character-filled roads; several stores in the area feature dealership, service station and other auto-related collectibles. The Rooster’s Nest Antiques and Barn Sale Antiques welcomed the sports cars and took them for a journey into the past. About this time, the folks with the grocery getter-type cars were getting very popular, those little sports cars were never known for cargo space!

The late model group wound its way along Ohio Brush Creek to the Tranquility State Wildlife Area, a scenic wooded area that is also home to the John T. Wilson Homestead, a nationally-recognized historic site. The John T. Wilson Homestead dates back to the 1820s, when it was a general store. Later, it was a station on the Underground Railroad. It has been authentically restored by Ralph and Patty Alexander and now operates as a bed & breakfast.

Apr 18, 2015: Motoring in Focus Spring Classic Driving Tour.

Photo courtesy of Jeff Loewe

The vintage car group followed the John Hunt Morgan Heritage Trail around the county and visited the JZN Goat Farm, to the delight of kids (as in, baby goats) and people alike. Cheese and goat milk was sampled and many folks fed the young goats. This proved to be a popular destination. We listened to interesting commentary by Gayla Fritzhand on the making of goat cheese and milk. The goats were pretty entertaining, too.

Overall, the destinations offered a bit of diversion from the serious “car guy” stuff and provided entertainment for some of our not-as-enthusiastic enthusiasts.

The final leg of the driving tour celebrated hills, curves, twists and dales as the two itineraries merged for the final destination: the Moyer Vineyard Winery & Restaurant in Manchester, Ohio. Offering fine dining and refreshing beverages after 120 miles of four-wheeled fun, the restaurant was packed with colorful, exotic machines. Departing west for home took many on a sunset cruise along the mighty Ohio River.

Experienced motorsports photographers Jeff Loewe and Scott Tengen photographed the proceedings and offer galleries (click on their names to view) for your enjoyment.