Bonneville, Part Five: Funny Cars, Rat Rods and Salty Humor

Phoney-Boloney Search & Rescue


As illustrated previously, Bonneville attracts some fairly bizarre racing cars and trucks. With nothing more 0n the line than one’s self-satisfaction (and possibly a mention in an obscure record book), the venue fairly screams “Let Your Freak Flag Fly!” This extends to the vehicles in the parking lot as well.


Creative intake and exhaust systems.


Think the roll cage on this vehicle looks a bit spindly? That’s because it is. It’s fabricated from Schedule-80 vinyl plumbing pipe. As the Californian owner/builder explained—“I buy rollovers for about $400, strip off the bodies, and have some fun.” This Toyota sports another “Salty” iconic decorative element—a Mexican/Indian blanket, or what I call Tijuana Tapestry. It is a requirement that any rat rod that wants to be taken seriously mirthfully must have seat covers made from this weave. The only thing that might be better is seat covers fabricated from black-velvet paintings of Elvis.


Model A rat rod.


Rat Rods are big on the Salt. This soigné (Martin’s word, not mine–Ed.) A-Bone has been carefully crafted to include color-coordinated Indian blanket seat covers; creative clear vinyl floor covering; a deluxe ’40 Ford steering wheel; and a must-have ivory shift knob. The new dash gauges offer an appropriate counterpoint to this rusty tableau and lets the viewer know that the owner of this car is beyond hip.


Patina is god.


Whether on or off The Salt, ’53 Studebaker Loewy hubcaps are always appropriate.


Speak to Me, O Toothless Wonder!


The owner of this 1953 GMC pickup must be Captain Obvious. I mean, what red-blooded hot rodder doesn’t like superchargers?


1926 Maxwell Boattail Speedster.


There probably isn’t a whole lot of Maxwell present beyond the frame, running gear and radiator. With no brakes and friction shocks on the front end, this could be a pretty scary ride.

Master Craftsman Del Friedli.


As you get into the details of this car, you have to appreciate Del’s sense of humor. Del built this car in his shop near Logan, UT.


Mystery Motor.


Actually, no mystery at all. It’s a 1961 Olds Cutlass 215-cu in, all-aluminum V-8. Why? Why not?


WTF? The International muse inspires again.


What is it about International K-7 trucks? They literally scream, DO ME!, whether they be 280 mph (450 kph) diesels or the elegant boattail on Del’s speedster. Beyond cool.


A Kiwi-owned 1932 Ford Roadster.


I posted this photo earlier, but it’s worth re-posting in the context of this article. The yellow text states “Kiwis can’t fly but…” These particular Kiwis were expats now firmly part of the SoCal hot rod culture. Readers have traced the genesis of the ecology statement to Albertan attitude toward the gumment in Eastern Canada.




Just what is this thing? The front fenders seem to be from a ’52 Pontiac, and the grille bar from a ’52 Chrysler. The red sticker on the windshield tells us that the car belongs to a crew member of a competition car. Check out the ultra-hip knock-off wheels. But what kind of engine is that?


The Frankenmotor.


What else? It’s a Jaguar, but this cat has shed its SU carbs and replaced them with something else.




Aha! The dash gives us a clue as to the DNA of this car–’52 Chevy. Plus the steering wheel hub sports a Chevy bow tie. Seats look comfortable. (Sorry guys, this was missing from the original post. KLM)


The boattail muse inspires once again!


The tail on this thing gets my vote as the most creative use of a pair of 1949-52 Buick hoods I’ve ever seen. Any idea where the split bumpers come from? This thing needs a ton of work to be finished, if that is actually the owner’s intent. I doubt I could have dreamed up this thing even while on drugs…ok, maybe some killer ‘shrooms.


Model T rat.


Who cares about front shocks when you have a most excellent Mexican serape seat cover? At least the brakes are juice.


A Model T with what looks like a big hole in the floor.


You know that this thing will never get a paint job. Even the lettering has been artificially aged to appear that it was a field find.


Some kinda Ford with a ’32 grille shell.


While the rat rod esthetic hasn’t been codified, it invariably includes heavy amounts of irony and patina rust. But a shiny engine with multiple carbs is OK. Professional lettering, preferably offset by crappilly-applied club names, is also acceptable.


Driving contest.


Bonneville isn’t only about fast cars and heavy drinking. There’s a serious component as well. When racing is suspended due to high wind gusts, one is left to find other sources of amusement. One year we had a golf ball-driving contest. The little dot at the upper right? That’s one of our crew on a four-wheeler acting as judge. The cordless drill was used to poke a hole in the salt so a tee could be inserted. Most of the salt is very hard, but there are a few soft spots around. You can generally depend that some dickweed in big pickup will find one of them and sink up to his hubs. Très amusant. (Again–Ed.)


1924 Buick Rat.


The yellow headlight buckets on this Buick are a creative touch, as are the triple carbs on the straight eight. Nice wheels, too.


Buick Straight Eight.


Two three-cell AGM batteries? Precious.


Would you like some salt with your rat?


I don’t get the fascination with death’s heads, zombies or vampires; apparently I am in the minority, as this guy is deep into the whole macabre program.


“’Can’ U Say Hemi?” Get it? Picture of a can. Damn, this guy is clever.


This guy spent a lot of time and money ensuring that this thing had rust everywhere, including the valve covers. It had so much salt on it I think much of it had been painted on.


Oh, dem bones!


In case the theme “Lucky 13” was lost on the adoring public, like the guy with the Mooneyes t-shirt, the owner of this piece of dung saw fit to stuff a rusty skeleton atop the back seat’s faux-leopard skin upholstery.

Well, I’m glad I got the rusty stuff out of my system. It’s hard on the eyes. I’m not yet sure of the theme of Part Six, but I promise it will include photos of shiny and fast cars. Maybe an Olds-Pontiac-Cadillac edition? 2013 Speed Week is only three weeks away! I’ll be there.

Next Up:  Bonneville: 1961 Ford Starliner