Monday, October 26, 2020
Oct. 26, 2020

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The ‘rat’ race is on for Vancouver man

He has 30 days to build rat rod, drive it 300 miles

By , Columbian Science, Military & History Reporter
Published:
5 Photos
David Hubbard, left, and his wife, Jessica Hubbard, work on their Ford rat rod pickup at their home in Vancouver. Hubbard is expected to drive it 300 miles from St.
David Hubbard, left, and his wife, Jessica Hubbard, work on their Ford rat rod pickup at their home in Vancouver. Hubbard is expected to drive it 300 miles from St. Louis to Lebanon, Tenn., in the event. Photo Gallery

• All vehicles in the rat rod competition must be properly titled, tagged and insured. Registration and insurance does not count against the $3,000 budget.

David Hubbard’s challenge: Build a rat rod for $3,000 or less in the span of 30 days, then drive it 300 miles from St. Louis to the “Redneck Rumble” near Nashville, Tenn.

Fortunately, neatness does not count when building a rat rod. Hubbard actually had to smudge up some shiny bits so they’d match his overall color scheme of rust and primer.

The Vancouver man is one of a dozen chosen to compete in Rat Rod magazine’s 2014 “Great American Blue Collar Build-Off.”

“It was a random drawing,” said Hubbard, who was one of almost 350 entrants. “I saw it online and thought, ‘Why not?'”

• All vehicles in the rat rod competition must be properly titled, tagged and insured. Registration and insurance does not count against the $3,000 budget.

The flip side to that question, of course, is: Why?

“I just love building rat rods,” he replied.

Hubbard plans to run his own car shop some day, he said. “This gives me a chance to show my skills.”

Which leads to another question: What’s a rat rod?

“It’s a blue-collar hot rod,” Steve Thaemert, editor of Rat Rod magazine, said in a phone interview. “That’s the short answer.”

“For one thing, it’s a lot cheaper,” said Hubbard. He noted that some hot-rod builders spend more on paint than he’s putting into his whole car. A lot more.

Hubbard figures he’ll be right at his assigned budget of $3,000 when he’s done. His car is based on a 1951 Ford F3 truck that was rusting on a farm near Salem, Ore.

“I paid $1,200 for it and sold the seats for $250,” which helped his budget.

He did even better with another transaction.

“I bought a 1963 Ford truck for the axles for $300; I sold some parts and sold the rest for scrap, and came out $111 ahead on the deal.”

With that mix-and-match approach, the 29-year-old Hubbard did a lot of cutting and fabricating. That left some shiny seams showing where newly cut metal met original equipment.

“We rusted out the fresh metal with bleach and vinegar,” he said.

The car is a husband-and-wife project. Jessica Hubbard is focusing on the interior and had ambitions of classing up the ride.

“We bought a nice Cadillac seat, but the doors wouldn’t close,” she lamented. “You’ve got to go with function over style.”

Jessica, 26, also assembled the wooden cover for the truck bed. And in keeping with the farm-find theme, “it’s old barn lumber,” she said.

The Hubbards will take the car to St. Louis on a trailer, which is the takeoff point for the 300-mile rat rod ramble. Winners will be determined by a panel of judges and a public vote.

The trip will give them an interlude between their Clark College classes. David is studying business administration and Jessica is working on her prerequisites for nursing school. They recently finished Clark’s summer session and will be going back to school later this month.

As the magazine editor explained, the Hubbards seem to be a perfect match for hot-rodding’s roots.

“Really, the birth of hot-rodding was after World War II, when veterans came back and built hot rods,” Thaemert said.

For the Hubbards, the war was Operation Enduring Freedom. They met in Afghanistan. Both were with Air Force Security Forces at Bagram Air Base. (Both are now in the Air National Guard.)

While on active duty, David was deployed three times and Jessica was deployed twice.

“We celebrated our first anniversary at Bagram,” he said.

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Columbian Science, Military & History Reporter
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