Rat Rod Rendezvous brings rodders in from across Midwest to show off custom cars

By KBJR News 1

August 31, 2014 Updated Aug 31, 2014 at 10:58 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) --- At most car shows, the vehicles are pampered and polished. At a new breed of car show, though, those activities are frowned upon.

Hitting the highway in a home built hot rod; that's the reason rat rodders rendezvous every Labor Day weekend at TJ's Country Store in Mahtowa.

A rat rod is an unpretentious creation made from cast off parts; the rustier the better.

Previous collector car fads like dune buggies and shag carpeted vans have come and gone but rat rodders feel their four wheeled genre will last.

"Yeah, it's growing. It'll keep growing," said Barnum rat rodder Matt Higby, "it gets bigger every year."

Only in the rat rod realm will you see a slant six powered manure spreader driven by a member of a motorcycle club.

The cars at TJ's rendezvous are built to be driven rather than hauled from show to show on a trailer.

"Yes, to prove that this was built in someone's garage, basement or otherwise and that they can go ten thousand miles if you want it to," said Patrick Wislon, who made the trip from Thunder Bay.

Every year after the rendezvous, rodders like Wilson from Thunder Bay load up their cars and go on a long tour.

A few years back, it was to Las Vegas. Last year, it was Louisiana. This year, the crew is off to Tennessee.

Other people won the Canadian's Choice and People's Choice prizes, but the best prize was earned by this young fellow who left the rendezvous with a brand new bride.

Their marriage and the rust stained hobby of rat rodding will go on happily ever after according to fans of the patina peppered cars.

"I think it's going to go on for a while," said Mahtowa rat rodder Roger Rentola, "because there are younger people finding out it doesn't cost an arm and leg to do it and you meet the nicest people."

...people like 16 month old Sophie who can already say vroom vroom.

This year's Rat Tour is expected to roll into Lebanon, Tennessee by September 19th.

Dave Anderson