Motortopia - EVERYTHING Automotive!
Exciting News! Motortopia App Now Available on Apple App Store!  
Close Ad

Hand Built Rat Rod | Truly Made in the USA

­­­­It wasn’t long ago when “Made in America” and “handcrafted” actually meant something. At one time, the United States was the premier manufacturer in the world, and if it wasn’t for American workers during World War II, we could have lost the war. Decades later, things that are handcrafted and Made in America are the exception, not the norm.

Brandon TIG welded the custom 2×4 steel frame for the ride, complete with cool gusseting for strength and a nice visual.
A Speedway disc setup is plumbed with steel braided lines. The rat rod also boasts original 16-inch Ford Model A wire wheels wrapped with a combination of Firestone and Goodyear retro skinnies.


A huge welding tank-size nitrogen bottle is mounted across the rear, providing lift for the custom airbag suspension that’s visible beneath a Plexiglas cover.
Hand Built Rat Rod
Chevy fender well headers were modified to fit and given the “fishmouth” treatment at the collector. All lines on the car are plumbed in copper.

That’s the story behind Brandon Metzger’s  wild ’30 Model A rat rod. A metal worker and master fabricator by trade, and owner of Metzfab in Glendale, Arizona, Brandon is one of the few young gun enthusiasts who has adopted America’s work ethic from bygone years. He’s also partial to old-school hot rods. Having built quite a few project vehicles throughout the years, Brandon decided to build one from scratch after getting his hands on an original 1930 Model A body.

Like you would expect on a rat rod, the interior is pretty spartan with  custom seats by Bell Auto sitting on the floor to reach a Speedway pedal assembly.


The custom trans tunnel also sports some cool pinstriping. Bell Auto also gets credit for the carpet, headliner and door panels.

Motor on a Hand Built Rat Rod
A four-bolt Chevy 350 is topped with an Offenhauser intake manifold sporting four Holley 94s for a retro look with custom-curved intake necks on each carb.
Hand Built Rat Rod made in the USA
The low stance is courtesy of a hard-lined air suspension combined with 4 inches of chop and channel. Retro 1950 Caddy taillights are frenched high on the body for visibility.

First up was a custom frame crafted from 2×4 steel with clean gussets for strength. More steel work came in the form of a 4-inch roof chop and 4-inch body section. Brandon fabricated the grille at his shop using a 1932 grille shell and frenched in 1950 Caddy bullet-style taillights. The car rides on a custom nitrogen-operated air system out back with fully plumbed copper 3⁄8-inch hard lines and ball valves. Under the frame, a Ford 9-inch is suspended by a Metzfab custom 4-link, complete with panhard bar. Up front, rests an original Ford I-beam with Metzfab custom friction shocks.

The front end features period-correct headlights, dropped Ford I-beam front axle with a transverse leaf spring and a crossover steering setup that uses a Vega steering box.
The rat features plenty of original pieces, including the retro Ford V-8 badging and fuel tank cap.

Since simplicity is the name of the game on a rat rod, small-block Chevy and Turbo 350 automatic is the drivetrain of choice. It’s nothing fancy except an Offy intake with Holley 94s and some wild custom headers, complete with heat wrap. As is the case with most rat rods, the parts collection is eclectic: Corvair steering, Vega steering box and plenty of Metzfab custom goodies to make it all work. The car boasts a lot of original stuff too, such as the dash and gauges, fuel tank and cap and original 16-inch Model A wire wheels.

The dash is fit with the original gauge housing, and the ball-style fuel gauge actually works, according to Brandon.
Pinstripe on a hand built rat rod
Everything is visual on a rat rod, thus the pinstripe work on the generator.
Hand Built Rat Rod made in the USA
Retro pinstriping sets off the black patina paint job with spots of bare metal tossed in for effect. An airbag suspension lets the Model A almost sit flat on the deck.

Seeing it all put together like this, we have to say it’s great to see the American work ethic is still alive and well, especially with the younger generation.

Text and Photos by Kevin Wilson

A version of this article first appeared in the August 2014 print issue of Drive Magazine.