CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Some vintage cars at Charleston's annual Rod Run and Doo Wop look like they just rolled off a Detroit assembly line. If the Rod Run was an episode of "Happy Days," they would be Richie Cunningham.
They have pristine paint jobs, restored interiors and engines that shine like silver dollars. Their owners comb the Internet for original parts. To them, putting a replica gas cap on their 1957 Chevy would be like putting a bumper sticker on a Bentley.
Others cars look like they just rolled out of a cornfield.
They have rust spots, worn paint and gear shifters made from beer tap handles. There aren't many original parts on these vehicles. The chassis might come from a sedan built in the 1990s, while the roof might have originally belonged to a minivan. Many have Ford bodies and Chevrolet motors.
Hot-rodders call these rough-around-the-edges cars "rat rods." If those other cars are Richie, these bad boys are "the Fonz."
"We like people to say, 'You can't do that,' " said Lynn Casto of Cross Lanes. "Yes, you can."
The body of Casto's 1923 "T-bucket" is really a fiberglass replica of Henry Ford's original. The paint is matte black with a checkerboard pattern across the firewall.
Casto made the frame himself. The 355-cubic-inch engine once resided beneath a Chevrolet hood.
"We like taking whatever will halfway work and make it work," he said.
Casto's son, Kris, applied the same thinking to his 1955 Ford pickup. The truck's body is made from three different '55 pickups. Its frame and steering column came from a Cadillac. The bucket seats once sat in a 1980s station wagon.
And then there's the paint. It's difficult to tell if Kris' truck is red or black. Although the paint job is only a few years old, it looks like it spent quality time in somebody's barn.
That was the point. Casto said Kris wanted his car to look like an old "shop" truck that mechanics might have used to haul parts. He hired Legend Kustoms body shop in South Charleston to give his Ford the desired patina.
Painters covered the truck with a black primer before spraying red on top of that. They then took sandpaper to the new paint, roughing it up and letting the primer show through in places.