In our historical survey of the Rat Rod movement, Rudy Rodriguez’ ’35 Ford pickup is the newest build –– debuting in 2002. But the “Coahuila” launched an entire micro-movement within the Rat Rod scene: the ‘bobber truck’ or ‘Rudy truck,’ as it came to be nicknamed. More on that in a bit…
Rudy’s Rat Rod habits dated back a few years prior, though. As early as 1991, his ’34 Ford coupe raised hell in American Rodder magazine. Got the old guys’ panties all up in a wad because it was a full feature in a national magazine on an ‘unfinished’ car. Horrible business, that.
Rudy’s known for his talents, the list topped by his sense of proportion and stance. While folks claim that his cars have that certain look they can’t really pinpoint the origin of, most times, it’s probably due to this. And the little ’35 pickup had it in spades. When we first saw it at the fondly-missed Paso Robles show in 2002, the extremely low clearance, proper chop and channel, perfect wheel and tire combo and fittingly rough paint scheme extolling the virtues of one of the bawdiest neighborhoods in the sufficiently bawdy Tijuana, Mexico, floored just about everyone who came within gasping distance of it.
Arguably, the truck’s massive appeal was due to the sum of its parts. It’s attitude, really. The 18″-shortened length of the chassis fit well with the overall height and 2″ ground clearance. The body was channeled over the frame enough that the little 1948 239 c.i.d. Ford flathead filled up the engine bay nicely (it didn’t have the typical gaping negative space between the top of the motor and the top edge of the cowl). The grille was laid back just enough so that it didn’t tower over everything behind it. The bed was just the right length. And while we think of it, indulge us in a few words on the bed treatment of this thing:
Just as the ‘ratrodders’ of 2010 get so many fundamentals of hotrodding wrong, they’ve coined the term ‘bobber truck’ to describe their ill-fitting, extremely shortened beds (or no bed at all) on their truck projects. In many cases, they’ve also credited Rodriguez’ “Coahuila” ’35 as the first bobber truck, when in fact –– as seen above –– its bed was neither ‘bobbed’ or perched on the back of anything that resembles the disasters passed off as viable rat rods today. Mostly.
OK, we just had to set the record straight on that. Hey, nobody said this was going to be an unbiased historical survey.
The truck changed hands several times after its debut and it’s constantly referenced for its overall good style, irreverent attitude and perfect combination of parts. As a true testament to its staying power, influence on the original Rat Rod scene and place in hot rod history, the Coahuila most recently brought $55,000.00 at RM Auction’s “Icons of Speed and Style” auction in September of last year. But more impressive is the fact that a genuine, original Rat Rod was dignified as important enough of an icon to be treated as such in a high-end, internationally recognized auction house catalogue. Rudy’s little bad-ass is truly an icon of style in every sense of the phrase.
Images courtesy RM Auctions, American Rodder magazine, Fullerton Fabrication