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Checkers Rat Rod

Rat Rods are like ice cream they come in all flavors and sizes. I find them to be of interest to a wide varitety of car guys. Some are little more than heaps of rust relying on gravity to keep the bodies attached to the frame. Others have a strong sense of humor and are the “stand up comics” of the car world. they are entertaining but not real hot rods. Although I enjoy all well done Rat Rods my favorites are the ones that fall more into the retro-hot rod style. These are the cars that are built much like they would have been 40 or 50 years ago and done with a very limited budget. That’s that way most rods were built back in the day.

Today’s Feature Car is one that is a blend of the retro-rod and the the stand up comic rod. The photos on this page are of Steve Amadio’s terrific Rat Rod. Rod. In true Rat Rod tradition, the only thing Steve bought was the cab. It was acquired on ebay. Everything else was found, donated by car buddies or fabbed.

The heart of this wild ride is a 1947 Ford pickup cab. It rides on a boxed 1953 Chevy pickup chassis with air bags. The engine is a Pontiac 400 with automatic transmission. The rear axle is also a 1953 Chevy pickup rear with new gears. The radiator is late 1930s Ford.

The steering setup gets a lot of attention as you can see. He used a 1955 Chevy steering box but had to reverse the direction, hence the Rube Goldberg linkage which includes Corvette and Mustang II brake rotors as pivots. Crazy! The other thing that baffles people at shows are the fake air cooled cylinder heads! Steve says that to stand back and listen to supposed car guys talk about them is hysterical!!! Some sort of flathead? Some sort of Hemi? Nope!

Ever seen a steering gear set up like this?

The fake gatling guns are motorized and spin too.

Steve built this wild Rat Rod for fun but gets a lot of promotion out of it for his shop Checkers Custom Cars, where he specializes in unique, customizing of new and old cars. The car was even featured at the Metallica concert in Philadelphia! He enjoys taking trophies away from legit cars at the local shows and kids love it and crowd around it too which is really cool!

Steve can be reached at: or 609-965-6300. Thanks go out to Steve’s big brother Don Amadio for the photos and information.

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I grew up and lived in Iowa for a good portion of my life before moving to Southern California. After 20+ years we now live outside Nashville Tennessee. I have been into cars since I was old enough to remember. I don't have a brand loyalty although I do prefer American Muscle especially the 1969/1970 NASCAR Aero Cars. (Check out our other web site at site) As long as it has four wheels and an engine I get excited. Few men are lucky enough to be able to share their passion for cars with the woman they love. Fortunately, my wife, Katriana, is also a gear head and many of our activities revolve around the cars. We have a small collection that includes at least one car from each of the Big Three. It includes a Best of Show winner, a survivor, a driver with lots of patina and several others. Katrina prefers all original cars while I like to modify them so we have a few of each. When we aren't playing with cars we are out working with or showing our miniature donkeys. You can see more about that part of our lives at

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One Comment

  1. This Rat Rod is interesting to the least. Not sure if I like the machine guns on the back or the head lights. I like the Idea of a Rod painted and riveted like a WWII Fighter Plane though.

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