A rat truck is typically hand built and looks nothing like a traditional vehicle. They are purposefully in rough, unfinished condition
Rat trucks, also called rat rods, were called ratty, which is where the term rat rod got its name. Rat rodding can be traced back to the 1920s when street car racers would chop off parts of their cars to make them lighter and go faster. Early rat rods were built using pieces from tractors, salvaged aircraft parts and parts from wrecking yards.
The traditional rat rod looks as though it was sitting outside for years in a field with rust holes, fading paint and dents all around. However, rat rods have powerful engines under the hood, such as a Ford Flathead, Buick Nailhead or 331 or 354ci Chrysler HEMI. Still others may have diesel or inline engines.
Some of the more traditional rat rods have a simple leaf spring suspension, old style axles and drum brakes. Many owners go for the vintage steel or aluminum wheels with pie crust tires. The interiors are normally quite sparse with nothing but a flea market blanket covering the seats. Many rat rod enthusiasts like to use parts from a car built in the 1940s.