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"Biters", "Rat Rods" and "Rich Man's Cars"

  
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"Biters", "Rat Rods" and "Rich Man's Cars"

 
woodcanoe2 woodcanoe2
New User | Posts: 1 | Joined: 08/10
Posted: 08/11/10
06:30 PM

Just read the Oct 2010 R&C last night and this morning. Can't stop thinking about Rob Fortier's "Behind the wheel column" on "Biters".

I ususally don't take this stuff too seriously as everyone has opinions. But the more I think about it the more I cannot understand his position. For those who may have not read it, the gist is that there are mags on the newstand that maybe should not be there. He mentions "Rat Rods" in a very sneering tone and suggests he would like to remove that term from the English Language.

That is sad as I denote a bit of jealousy directed at those who have had some success in the magazine publishing field on topics devoted mostly to owner built cars, some of them very crude for sure.

I can understand that the magazine business is competetive as they compete for the same dollars. But if you follow the idea, it would seem that any magazine, to be sucessful, must give the readers what they want to read and thus spend money on. So one would think that the editorial content of any mag would change as readers interests change.

But Fortiers piece is all about disdain for a whole group of, not only cars, but people who like building them and reading about them. Why would any magazine, having problems with circulation and sales, want to diss thousands of potential customers is beyond me. It seems a fool's mission. Why cut off your nose to spite your face?

The history of hot rodding goes back into the 1930's and maybe even the 1920's. There are many excellent books on the subject. Dean Batchelor's "The American Hot Rod" and the Don Montgomery books are only a few, but excellent depictions of that history.

That history, whether some people like it or not, is rooted in owner-built high performance automobiles, built with little money, but lots of ingenuity and hard work. None of the original hot rodders had any money, let alone enough to pay a pro builder to build a show winning car. On the contrary there was an immense pride in "doing it yourself".

The so-called rat rodders, and I don't like the term either but he used it, represent the present day version of hot rodding history. The cars in those other mags, again whether we like it  or not, represent the owners hard work, ingenuity and artistic and thechnical ability, not depth of his pocketbook.

I am 63 yrs old and was a high school junior when the first GTO hit the streets and remember it real well. None of us had money to buy one but admired the cars bought by those who did. Like many others I made my ride out of what I had and could scrounge. The rat rodders are not doing anything different than we did, or the hot rodders of an earlier generation. A lot of mags devoted to that topic have sprung up and done reasonably well so there must be a few people like me around.

I can accept what Rob said about the markets for street rod parts and cars making more available for all of us. And I can accept that there is a place in the hobby fo those folks who are willing to pay someone else to build their rides for them, and win shows with them. But he ought to be able to find a place for some of what he professes to dislike, if I can.

I wouldn't go to the Oakland show if someone paid my way and paid my airfare to fly there. I simply have no interst in 6 figure cars built by those wishing to demonstrate how deep their pockets are. But that is just me. I can skip articles about those cars and still find things in R&C to enjoy.  

Rob, can't you look back to the history of our sport, and find it in your heart, to offer some support for those who are simply doing what they learned from an earlier generation?

I bet your sales would increase if you could write more about owner-built cars like some of your competitors are doing, and doing well.