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A Diamond in the Rough

Updated: Jan 28

Fresh off the Ratstock event that was held at the sickest outdoor bar Psycho Silo Saloon (Click here for more details), Ian the owner of this Rat took time out of his busy schedule to talk with me about this amazing build.

For those that aren't aware Rat Rod Magazine (Click here for more details) organized what Ian is calling the largest gathering of Rat Rods in world history and the event broke a ton of records. The event started in Nebraska and went through four cities before ending at the final destination Psycho Silo Saloon located in Langley Illinois

Now back to Ian who took a break from building a log cabin in North Carolina (more on that later) with his twin brother to talk with Outlawed Ink about his past and new projects that he is working on.

Ian took his love of fabrication and motors and started a career as diesel mechanic in the Army working on light wheel vehicles. Don't let that description fool you as the Army considers Humvee up to duce and half along with other lightly armored options weighing up to 5 tons as "light vehicles".

After leaving the Army Ian used his knowledge and entered the civilian sector as a diesel mechanic. Unfortunately, due to an injury that occurred while in the military required back surgery that did not go as planned. The result, limited mobility and strength that forced Ian to step away from his dream job.

However, like a true American Ian did not let this keep him down. He quickly pivoted and applied his metal fabricating skills to start a sign company Precision Cut Art and Parts (click here to find out more).

It was during this time that Ian also experienced some additional life experiences that would have crushed any normal man, however, he took a different approach. Ian stepped back and took a hard long look at his life and after diving deep within his spirit found what was truly important to him, freedom.

Instead of feeling down or worse finding a new sedentary life in an office cubical somewhere that would make him miserable, Ian adjusted his lifestyle that allowed him to do everything he wants, on his time, and answering to no one... a true rebel living outside the establishment.

With this newfound freedom and time Ian has been able to build some truly fascinating build like the rat rod in this post.

Now Ian has several builds under his belt that include nice and shiny show cars, but he truly loves building rat rods as he feels it is more true representation of the builder as they customize the ride around their personality. One can really focus on the build rather the restrictions typically put on a show car build.

A rat build really frees up the builder to make the car the way they want it as there are expectations of what the car should be like when rebuilding a classic car. That freedom allowed Ian to really open his mind and create a one-off rat rod that truly represents his free spirit.

The best part is the owner started with a clear plan but like any custom fabricator will tell you, the project took on a life of its own evolving into something completely unexpected.

The build starts on a 26 Dodge Brothers body and frame that was found on Craigs List and was picked up in Green Bay Wisconsin. When the car was picked up the body and frame where not attached.

The frame rails were straight from the back to the front and the body sat on top of the frame. Ian spread out the rails channeling the body and welded them to the body effectively making a unibody. The result is a stronger set up that sits lower to the ground. You will notice the unique diamond indents... we will revisit that later in the article.

The lower stance makes the car look super sexy however it did create challenges for the factory location of driveshaft that originally sat underneath the car. Ian once again put his fabrication skills to work creating a cover/ tunnel that puts the shaft between all the seats in the car.

This body type was specifically sought after as the body is longer than the typical Chevy or Ford options popular in the Rat Rod culture. Family is very important to Ian and this body allowed him to have three rows of seats in the car to accommodate all his kids and any friends what to go for a ride.

After bringing the car back he quickly got to work chopping 5 inches off the body and using a brazing wielding technique that requires a lot of skill reattached the roof to the lower section. Ian would later point out that the wields turned out so well that he opted not to grind them down and instead left them on. This was a great move as many on lookers often point out that is a sick touch to the build.

The engine is a 37 Plymouth straight six flat head that the owner picked up in Chicago. Luckily the prior owner to the seller had completely rebuilt the engine so Ian didn't need to do any major internal work to the motor other than milled the head from 5.5:1 compression to 6.5:1 to get a little increase in power.

One thing that stands out on the engine is the custom manifold Ian created that has a single barrel carburetor sitting on top of the intake. To further make this cool as hell the header and hi-rise tunnel intake are all one piece. Many onlookers tell the owner how surprised they are that the car runs well on a single carburetor, which happens to be factory to that engine.

The three-speed transmission was left alone, and it was the factory unit that came with the engine.

The electrical system starts with a fuse box bought off eBay and all the wiring throughout the car was completed by Ian.

The front suspension is a suicide axel that has a transverse leaf spring set up. The front end as a single rod that is about the thickness of a thumb that connects the wheels. In the event that car is hit in the front and that rod breaks the wheels go inwards creating a domino effect craziness resulting in catastrophic damage hence the term "suicide axel". However, Ian assures me that if you got into an accident the front end would be least of your worries.

The rear end is held up by four link trailing air bags.

The breaks were also left alone as the car is light and the four drum brakes provide adequate stopping for the amount of power the rat produces.

The wheel was an interesting choice as the rear are factory Chevy and the front are factory Ford spoke wheels from 1930. The rear wheels are wrapped in 32-inch heavy duty trailer rubber and the front are 19-inch motorcycle tires. The owner had machine up adaptors so the wheels could attach to the drum.

Where Ian really poured his soul was into the body of the car. From a far and to the untrained eye all the crazy work and detail could be overlooked.

On closer inspection you will notice a diamond theme that actually started with a purpose then continued on to accent other areas of the car.

Ian made all the floor panels from scratch and to make the flat tin stronger he bead rolled the entire floor with diamond shaped imprints not only making the floor stronger but adding character in the process. What makes this part of the story more interesting is that Ian created his own bead roller to complete the project.

The seats started as an idea that was then transferred to cardboard and finally to metal. Ian then added the diamond design using the same bead roller that was used for the floor. The diamond theme was also applied to the leather on the seats, door panels, and even incorporated them into the paint.

Once all the body work was done Ian still hadn't locked down what color he was going to paint the rat. Around this same time his grandfather that owned a body shop had passed away and left Ian and his brother all his tools and supplies. Going through all the paint that was left behind he just started testing several color combinations and green with orange wheels just spoke to him.

As cool as this car is, Ian is by no means a one hit wonder. In addition to The Diamond in the Rough build checkout some of these other projects!

I had the opportunity to ride in this 1920 Buick roadmaster and could not believe the amount of attention it got in a sea of beautiful decked out cars and motorcycles at a local bar. Even stopping for gas didn't stop on lookers from coming by to talk to Ian. Let me know in the comments if you would like to learn more about this car!

Checkout this side by side that Ian converted into a mini rat!

Ian's talent is not limited to only cars, he is currently working on his most ambitious project to date a log cabin somewhere in the woods! I cannot wait to see how this turns out!!!!

If I am being honest, I am a little envious.... no I think jealous is a better word of the lifestyle Ian is living. He found a way to live life by his rules, on his terms, and outside the system that chains so many men down. By not needing to go to work just to pay for a house and shiny objects to keep up with the "Jones" he can take risks, move around freely, and create amazing projects/products.

If you like this blog please comment, share, and be sure to check out our store. If you made it this far, I am confident we are like-minded people, and you will love the Outlawed Ink brand!

For 20% off your entire order use PORMO CODE: BLOG20

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