1968 VW Ratrod
The modern definition of a rat rod is a custom car with a deliberately worn-down, unfinished appearance, typically lacking paint, showing rust, and made from cheap or cast-off parts. These parts can include non-automotive items that have been repurposed, such as using a rifle as a gear shifter, wrenches as door handles, and old saws as sun visors. A rat rod may or may not have extraneous decorations, but will always exude a great deal of personality due to the imagination required of the builder.
Originally, rat rods were a counter-reaction to the high-priced "customs" and typical hot rods, many of which were seldom driven and served only a decorative purpose. The rat rod's inception signified a throwback to the hot rods of the earlier days of hot-rod culture—built according to the owner's abilities and with the intention of being driven. Rat rods are meant to loosely imitate, in both form and function, the "traditional" hot rods of the era. Biker, greaser, rockabilly, psychobilly, and punk sub-cultures are often cited as influences that shaped rat rodding.