A rat rod is a style of hot rod or custom car that, in most cases, imitates (or exaggerates) the early hot rods of the 1940s, 1950s, and early-1960s. The style is not to be confused with the somewhat closely related “traditional” hot rod, which is an accurate re-creation or period-correct restoration of a hot rod from the same era.
Most rat rods appear “unfinished”, regardless of their status, as only the vehicle’s bare essentials are driven. These are built to drive, not exclusively for show. Rat rods were originally cars found by young race enthusiasts who did not have a lot of money- these cars were specifically used for drag racing and needed only bare essentials. Their purpose was to go fast and the builders used whatever they could to achieve that purpose . The reinvention of modern rat rods is something different.