When I first saw this 1936 Ford Truck Rat Rod, the thought hit me about what I’ve always felt about Car Design. The design of a vehicle comes in three waves. The blur you get when it passes you on the freeway, the overall language as you approach, and for the truly inspired... the nitty gritty details that, for those with enough guts to approach, will appreciate.
As I did approach the car for the first time way back, I met Blacksmith/Coppersmith Joe Magliato. A smooth Sicilian man with a confident and relaxed stance. He informed me that he had spent the better part of 4-1/2 years building this Rat from scratch. Each individual piece, a work of art worth of hanging in a museum. A serious museum. From the steel swirled steering wheel and hatchet rear view mirror to the copper hammered fan box that he formed by pounding a copper sheet over a manhole. Who does that?
“I really tried to put all my skills to the test to create a car that even another fabricator could look at and appreciate,” began Magliato. “The car really just kind of evolved as I was making it. I knew basically what I wanted but the small details happened as I was building.”
Before we get ahead of ourselves, let me mention to the motorheads that the powerplant is a 455 Olds Rocket, 60 over. Holly 650 carb, Turbo 400 tranny and 2-1/2” Custom Revolver Headers. Happy? Ok, let’s continue.
“The top is a good example of how something evolved,” continued Joe. “From across the street you can see what my overall intention was (Level 1), but when you get real close, all the Art Deco lines, stepped design, window placement for no blind spots, door geometry, material changes, dome lighting, head clearance, and quick release to go topless are added surprises (Level 3). When you take the time to really look at it.... I tried to put that much thought into each piece.” And this shows in spades. The car is downright awesome.
So then I asked Joe what was the best part of the car for him? His answer simply was like asking him who his favorite kid was... “For me, I know how much blood, sweat, and gears went into each piece and that part is over. Really, the best part now is sharing it with people that appreciate it and hopefully inspiring a younger “me” out there somewhere. Not to settle for just another bolt together project that looks just like it’s supposed to, but to make something out of raw materials... and your God given talents that nobody has ever seen.”
Well, as a 40-year car designer myself, I’ve seen and driven thousands of unique vehicles. But Joe’s MAD HAMMER is simply one of the most awesome art-built expressions of the 21st Century. We recently drove it on my Vlog show and the experience was raw, unique and powerful. The car commanded attention and shocked onlookers wherever we went. And the interesting thing about Joe was that he would spend all the time you need to absorb the art. A clear message that whatever you give into this world, comes back to you like an echo.
But Joe goes on... “What I thought I would use it for is having fun, going to shows, and drumming up business with this being my rolling portfolio. What it has really become is a way to meet new friends wherever I drive it. It has certainly done all the above. My original purpose in building it was to take my kids and wife with me to have some fun. I built a Chopper version of this first, and they weren’t having any of that. Since it’s been done I’ve been able to take them out (one at a time....lol) and make new memories. I hope to teach them how to drive it next.”
Magliato also mentioned that one of his dreams was to have his daughter drive it into a show by herself. The problem with that is that everyone would literally stop looking at anything else and be magnetized to MAD HAMMER’s charm, battered filth, and world class sculpture. This is not a car to be messed with.
I’ve been very grateful to Joe for bringing the rat to my show Wheels and Waves as it gives any show a level of excitement that can’t be matched. Park a 458 Italia next to it and Ferrari becomes a base model Honda. Trust me on this. MAD HAMMER sets the standard for what’s possible in hand-built road machines.
As we wrapped our shoot in Malibu, Joe and I discussed the experience. One guy wanted to buy it, a French couple couldn’t believe their eyes, and two tow truck drivers gawked as we burned away down the street. “You really never know who you’re going to meet and there is no bad scenery,” was Joe’s take.
Want to see more of Joe’s work? Hit www.bigironjoe.com or @joemagliato on IG. If the Mona Lisa had a Rat Rod... this would be it. That’s for lettin’ me drive, Joe.
- Fireball (Yes, my legal name) FIREBALL MALIBU VLOG http://www.fireballtim.com