Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Diabolical Rat!

    '48 RAT!   
Gotta love walking your normal routine and encountering a ride that blows your mind. Behold this bucket of bolts crouching like a tiger with braces ready to pounce!
Hells yes! This is a 1948 Dodge Business Coupe wearing at least a few panels of Windward Green. This thing has been transformed 6 ways to Sunday in true rat rod fashion.
Like the other domestic automakers Dodge had to cease automobile production in 1942 to help with the war effort. When the war stopped demand for new cars was at an all time high while automotive design had been ground to a halt for years. In a panic the Big Three released cars that were basically the 1942 models that they still had all the tooling for. The first all-new cars didn't roll off the assembly line until 1949 or so.
First of all this beast has been thoroughly chopped, and a nice job too. With such a curved roof and rounded window openings lowering the roof by several inches takes serious skill.
In true rat rod fashion there are no wipers and just a scraggly bit of wire for an antenna. The hood is a 2 piece hinged in the middle. With both sides up it looks like a V from the front.
The wheels are an interesting choice. They look like they came off of a semi truck (only in design as they're definitely car wheels). It does lend a sense of power and capability to this crouched puma.
The Business Coupe body style was prevalent from the early days of the automobile through the 1950s. It meant the car was a 2 seater with either a removable or no backseat. Most such as this sled had a small roof only suitable for a front seat. Traveling salesmen would use all the additional room for their products and demonstration items.  
Looks like there's a spot for either a frenched exhaust or taillight on the bottom of the rear fenders. When something is frenched it's inset into a recess.
The patina is great on the hood and trunk. It reminds me of this ride I featured over a year ago. Since this is also a Dodge from just 2 years previous I can't help but wonder if they share an owner or at least have knowledge of each other.
I had a '47 Dodge way back when. I drove by the car sitting by the side of an East Providence road with "$850 - runs" written on the door glass. I owned it briefly and drove it only a handful of times before acquiescing that I was in over my head. I lost the brakes once (pedal fell to the floor like I dropped it off a table) and gently coasted through a red light and up the hill to the friends driveway where I was keeping it. Sold it immediately to a grateful local guy for the same money I'd paid.
I have nothing good to say about this at all. In fact with such a cool car I find this flat-out offensive! WHY would you replace your awesome 1948 door handles with these sad rounded-rectangular ones that look like they came off an '80s Corvette? I didn't pull that out of a hat; I'm 99% sure these are from an '84-'96 C4 Corvette. My guess is that they lifted the drivetrain from a 'vette and just started grabbing other things they might need, but THESE awful door handles? For shame!
Indeed the steering wheel, gearshift, and seats all look like they were pulled from a C4 Corvette. The C4 ran the gamut in its lifetime from anemic and terribly underpowered to powerful and quick. Who knows what iteration drivetrain this has? Regardless the inside door handle is from the same 'vette.
Originally that large chrome expanse in the dash center was a speaker for the tube radio hidden behind it. 
This is a rat detail I dig; steel mesh in place of a vent window! Chances are excellent that modifying the glass during the chopping of the roof was simply too much so they did this. No matter though I think it's pretty tough.
On display here are a couple of the welded seams where the chop took place; the windshield pillar and vent window both show their wounds. Of course the chrome trim had to be snipped too.
Not only has this been chopped but it's been seriously dropped too. My '47 was a very tall car that climbed up into. Overall the roof has to stand a foot and a half to 2 feet lower than factory.
I've always loved this grill. The square turn signals were originally covered with beautifully pattered heavy glass lenses. The headlights on mine were super dim but I'm guessing the electric has been upgraded to '80s Corvette status.
Well there we have it; the twin to the only car I've ever owned that had a starter button. To start the car you would turn the key to "run", pull the choke, pump the gas a few times, and press the starter button. Mine always started and idled smoothly. There wasn't really an E brake as much as a parking brake; when you pulled the under dash trigger-shaped handle for the brake it grabbed the driveshaft! Very effective in holding the car on a hill but nothing that helped me when the brakes went out.
As of the last days of November this is still parked on the street in Brooklyn. Who knows if it will remain once the snow falls?

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