Take a fantastic crew, a love for rat rods and a whole new fixer-upper thinking and what do you get? Vegas Rat Rods, that’s what with Steve Darnell and his WelderUp team. Located on the outskirts of the Vegas strip, Vegas Rat Rods is more than just another reality show. This is where the whole WelderUp Team along with Darnell works their magic on cars by not just rescuing them from a dull and drab existence, but also giving them a new lease of life.
Of course, not every car they fixed turned out to be hit; some had to fail too. So here go five of Vegas Rat Rods builds we love, and five we don’t want to think about much.
10 Rat Rod Perfection: Macked Up
The Dodson family, who run the Dodson House Movers in San Antonia owned a 1938 Mack truck. For obvious reasons, this is one truck they did not want to give up one, despite it being nearly 70 years old. Since it has been owned for generations, it was nearly a family heirloom and they accordingly wanted it to be fixed up.
The theme for this truck was Gators and Guns and WelderUp put little accents all through the car to make this theme work. The console looks like an alligator head, with a large “knife” stuck left in the middle to show a kill. Bizarre, but it worked.
9 Pass Please: A Rat, In A Tux?
That’s it; Tuxedos are just not what rat rods are about. Though we understand the fascination when we see this rat-rodded Lincoln Continental. The thing being, this is not a rat rod. We can say its build-up or a refined mod. But form no angle does it look like a rat rod.
We would love to drive this car as an attention grabber, but not as a rat rod. This looks like a villain car, something that Joker would probably be at home driving. Or since it’s a Tuxedo it may serve Penguin or Two-Face better. It’s the vibe of this car, you don’t think Batman in this, you think a villain Batman annihilated instead. And we don’t want to be seen annihilated in this one!
8 Rat Rod Perfection: The Laugh Riot
If this car was ever seen by Sam from Supernatural, who has a deathly fear of clowns, he would probably run screaming in the opposite direction. Frankly, after Pennywise, we would do the same. However, Canadian Michael Sharpe had no such compunctions and had his custom truck rigged out into being the funniest thing on wheels to cheer up the small town he hailed from.
The truck is supposed to be a laugh riot and honestly, is so whacko, it would make anyone laugh. The back of the truck says “Happy Now?” – meaning the owner knows that his clown truck is sunny enough to make the bluest of faces smile. Now driving this must be a whole lot of laughs.
7 Pass Please: The Muted Ford
The Ford F-Series is America’s best-selling pickup trucks – and we thought that Darnell would have turned any of these into the most badass monster ever. Instead, he seems to have toned down the truck’s fierce appearance and made it look fur-painted than a vehicle with actual sass.
It's not as if they didn’t work hard on the truck – we are sure they did. We just expect more from a rat rod that’s a Ford F-Series. Should it not look scarier and meaner? Like move out of my way or I will eat you up kind of scary? Anyway, to each his own and this is what Darnell did to an F-Series.
6 Rat Rod Perfection: Charged & How
The final episode of season three featured a Dodge Charger, unlike another considering it stood out, and up, from just about any Charger you have seen before. They spotted it at a salvage workshop in a dented and cut-up state and something about this Charger “spoke” to Darnell.
So in it was hauled to the WelderUp workshop and it took five weeks to convert it into a diesel-powered 4X4 that could chew just about any road. Or any obstacle in its path as well! Later featured in a music video, this Charger blew away anybody who saw it and with good reason.
5 Pass Please: Delicate Darling
They called it a Salt Flat Rod and when they say that, we think Mad Max: Fury Road. But that is where the similarity ends.
While this may be a cool rat rod on its own, when we start comparing it to Mad Max, it looks far too tame and unworthy to be run on salt flats. Built from a 1931 Ford Model A, something Darnell has a soft corner for, it looks a tad too delicate to be run on tough and harsh terrains. This is the build that premiered the series – and perhaps was accepted simply because it was one of the firsts. In hindsight, after seeing Darnell’s bests – we think he could have done this better.
4 Rat Rod Perfection: Healing Touch
Darnell isn’t just a great fixer-upper. He is also a bleeding heart, but not without reason. When one of his WelderUp staff, Joe Giamanco’s son Preston was battling cancer, the crew got together to make a tribute unlike another. They made a cancer car, with the theme being “Steel to Heal”. True to its theme, the car was covered in an almost ugly rust patina, because cancer is ugly.
The 1931 Ford houses a 6.4-liter Hemi sourced from a 1957 Dodge. But the real work comes with the 10-dozen metal roses that are redder in color closer to the engine, and fade out otherwise. The car was auctioned off and proceeds went to cancer research. Happily, Preston survived his kidney cancer ordeal.
3 Pass Please: The Drowned Rat
A water rat is an awesome swimmer and something that moves through water sleekly. Now the Rat Rod so dubbed a Water Rat didn’t look all that aquatic to us and the green was more reminiscent of algae than water.
Mostly Darnell and his WelderUp team do such a fantastic job of sticking to the theme despite costs and man-hours, that the Water Rat just looks like a damp squib, pun intended. The base vehicle was a pickup from the 1950s, and if water was the theme they were going with – they should have added more wet trimmings on this one than leave it with a side portion missing from the front. Did an alligator bite it?
2 Rat Rod Perfection: All Aboard
The season two, episode six train car was nutty, but it was so nutty it was rad! When a client from Telluride wanted a locomotive-themed rat rod, WelderUp geared up to pay a tribute to the railroad that transformed the Wild, Wild West. Twin oil filters and big rugged wheels jump out at you in this car, which would look more at home on the track than on the road.
With locomotive rivets and even a train whistle, Darnell and his crew could not get more authentic to a locomotive than this. Of course, the car that went in as the base is now nearly unrecognizable – we just know that this would be a riot to drive!
1 Pass Please: Gangster Electric
Why is this an electro rod? Because it’s a 1928 Buick, that now runs on electric power. In this episode, the client wants to overhaul the Buick, which is filled with rotting wood, into a gangster-like rat rod. The way his face falls when Darnell does the electric car is a bit painful. Not to say that the car isn’t a miracle of sorts – but somehow when we see a Buick, we think Al Capone. Or Bonnie & Clyde.
We don’t think of electric power. While we understand that he has all the creative license in the world, somehow electric and Buick just doesn’t go together. But its Darnell's baby, so we can't say much...