“Rat rods don’t consist of shiny paint and chrome. They’re vintage vehicles that you drag out of the weeds and get running again with whatever parts you have lying around or can come up with to make it work,” Evans said.
Evans, the owner of Evans Welding in Jasper, is part of a group of men from Walker County who made the cover of the national publication “Rat Rod Magazine” this week.
Rusty Lawrence said a friend tipped off editors about the dozen or so rat rods that are located in the area.
Lawrence bought his rat rod, a 1935 Ford, from Evans and spent two years redoing it with help from Evans and another fellow rodder, Perry “Hot Rod” Stewart, as well as his employer, Farley Recycling.
“That’s why I like these cars. You can’t cut holes in a ‘67 Camaro because you ruin it. With a rat rod, you can build it like you want it,” Lawrence said.
Because the truck is so conspicuous, Lawrence has turned it into an interesting witnessing tool. Two of his changes to the rat rod included the addition of a cross on the grill and several stickers that read “NOTW,” which stands for “not of this world.”
Evans said he pulled the ‘35 Ford, his first rat rod, out of a local pasture four years ago.
“It had trees growing up through the cab,” he recalls.
Evans and another man at the welding shop worked on the truck in their spare time and had it road ready within nine months.
Evans has also made rat rods out of a ‘37 Ford truck and a ‘46 Ford car and is just beginning work on a ‘37 Chevrolet.
Evans said he builds his own frames because the original ones are usually too rusty. He then seeks out a “donor vehicle,” typically made in the mid-’80s, to use for parts.
“So really, the only thing that is old on mine is the sheet metal,” Evans said.
He recently sold the ‘46 Ford for $10,500 — not a bad price for a vehicle he rescued from a local scrap yard.
As he drove to work one morning, Evans saw the car sitting on a trailer at the gate of the scrap yard. The owner was more than a little surprised when Evans ran up to him and offered to pay $300 for it.
“He said, ‘It’s in bad shape.’ I said, ‘I know. That’s the way I want it.’ He looked at me like I was an idiot,” Evans said.
Because the man didn’t want to unload the car, Evans paid him $400 for everything on the trailer.
Evans took it back to his shop, salvaged the parts he wanted and returned to the scrap yard, where he received $396 for the load.
“So I had $4 in the body, but we put about 200 hours into rebuilding that car,” Evans said.
Ten thousand dollars is the going rate for most rat rods, which is much less than what other car enthusiasts spend on restoration.
Lawrence said he has had classic hot rods, which are called “shiny cars” in rat rod lingo, but he will never go back to them because rat rods are more fun.
“When I first got it, somebody waved at me so hard going down the road that I pulled over because I thought I was on fire,” Lawrence said.