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Hot Rods and Rat Rods = Green Rods?

November 19, 2010

While it may seem to be a stretch to consider something that looks like a jalopy, a heap of rolling rust (or at least primer) and made in someone’s back yard or garage as being within the ‘green movement’; YES a true hot rod or rat rod is indeed GREEN!

A true hot rod or rat rod is made of previously manufactured auto parts and non-automotive parts. They are generally ‘junk yard’ finds salvaged and re-purposed. As such, because of their longevity on the road (and despite any pollution factor driving them), they are ultimately a more sustainable vehicle [having stood the test of time already].

The hot rod and rat rod crazes started in the 1940′s and 1950′s, long before the ‘green movement’ long before women drivers like Danica Patrick were pop culture cool. Those car guys involved were mostly veterans and young adults building cars from parts and engines they could find for little or no cost. The true essence and idea was to build a road-worthy form of transportation for as little money as possible — to drive cool cars but save green money at all cost.

Unlike today’s green cars which may be made of recycled materials, in eco-friendly manufacturing facilities with as many green practices as they can feasibly muster, hot rods and rat rods are the true definition of green cars with low-impact or nearly-no-impact production.  Because the parts used in the production of the vehicles are previously manufactured – reused, not recycled materials they do not further impact the environment through the reprocessing of materials and the related shipping with miscellaneous impact.

Most hot rods and rat rods are not even painted with the traditional multi-layer process for painting cars. If they have any paint at all, it is usually just a primer or a single stage paint as hot rods and rat rods usually don’t feature high-gloss or specialty finishes. This alone reduces the impact of the finish of the vehicle on the environment, less manufacturing of the paint and fewer emissions from the application of the paint on the finished vehicle.

While the green movement celebrates the 3 R’s – Recycle, Reuse, Reduce; hot rods and rat rods have their own 3 R’s – Reuse, Reduce, Repurpose.

Reuse is an easy concept: reuse a frame, rims, body or whatever parts of the auto they can. Reduce the amount of items in a junk-yard or salvation yard which would otherwise be sent for recycling. Reduce the environmental impact of steps such as painting. Repurpose, which is akin to reuse, except the concept of reuse is to use again for basically the same purpose. In hot rods and rat rods it is common to repurpose something that may have never been automotive to serve a purpose on the vehicle, i.e. the lid from an old washing machine is now the roof of a car, or an old coffee can is now the washer fluid reservoir or radiator overflow.

Long before the inception of Earth Day and the Green Movement young adults were building ‘green cars’ using materials readily available to them.  Thus reducing the environmental impact of manufacturing a new vehicle or parts, the recycling or disposal of old automotive and non-automotive junk, and shipping the autos and parts great distances. Hail to the original green cars – hot rods and rat rods!

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One Comment leave one →
  1. ratrodauthority permalink
    February 3, 2011 4:09 am

    Keep up the good writing. Rat Rods are what it’s all about. http://www.ratrodauthority.com

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