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Poll
Question: Are Rat Rods  Steampunk?
No. They don't run on steam - 9 (69.2%)
Yes.They are very loosely Steampunk by association - 4 (30.8%)
Total Voters: 13

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Author Topic: Rat Rods : Are they Steampunk?  (Read 5269 times)
Hurricane Annie
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« on: March 10, 2019, 11:12:29 am »


 Rat Rods have taken off.  What is the general opinion  of  Rat Rods , in the steampunk scene?

I'm not a car enthusiast. The  creative expression in designs caught my eye. The beach side races   and fury on the Flats  is a liitle contagious to watch. There are a few enthusiast Facebook pages and blogs about the place. The guys and gals seem to live for meets and races. They work to spend their money  on their vehicles and  traveling to  events.

 For some it appears to be a religious experience
https://m.facebook.com/395215757218640/posts/2236791549727709/

http://youtu.be/M3xTUg6fuec

http://youtu.be/X2JmWQrbxNw

http://youtu.be/Pxdvqocrcxk

http://youtu.be/XdCnUSb5TFY
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chironex
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« Reply #1 on: March 10, 2019, 01:59:18 pm »

No, they are not really steampunk. Rodding belongs well and truly in dieselpunk, or later, no matter what steam-age engineers were trying for speed records. It just doesn't suit a steampunk/VSF setting.

Rat rodding began as a reaction to nightmarishly expensive and extravagant show rods which had hideous performance and ergonomics, up to the point where a three-quarter-million show rod which has to be driven by remote guidance can only be driven a few feet so it can be entered as a "car" in shows. The first rat rodders were going back to the old hot rodders' attitudes and philosophies, developing machines they could build in their garages. Sounds steampunk, but their psychology, philosophy, and worldview were as different from those of steampunk characters as their tech base.
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Hurricane Annie
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« Reply #2 on: March 10, 2019, 04:43:40 pm »



Thank you for your response Chironex. It's given me an interesting glimpse. In the videos and articles, enthusiasts do appear to be far more about the experience of driving  their vehicles and the self expression in the build. There is so much more ingenuity and originality  being put into projects.

  Despite New Zealand  having more cars per head and  established car clubs, there are few speedway  tracks  or events. There are a handful of "beach hops" [with out actual beaches]  "car shows" and " Americana parades", with the typical  large imported  older US vehicles  and standard hot rods. They are connected with the Rock n Roll scene. Then there is the Mini Cooper, Austin and Morris Minor  clubs, [always a bit subversive], the standard luxury vehicle  "associations" and their glorified picnics in the country. Along with the suburban types with their Off Road  treks. Though I hear until a few decades back there were several  established long beach races,  regulations  and vocal minorities got them cancelled.

 The hot rodders don't approve of the rat rods. Possibly they find them the intimidating and out side the parameters of accepted norms. There  is a bit of a rat rod movement growing  at the bottom of the South Island. They have the Steampunk HQ down there.  Diesel, steam and atompunk  are usually lumped under the same umbrella  in N. Z..

If there was a battle between the Rockers  and the Ratters, I know who would win. The rockers would  flounce off isulking in their petticoats. The Rat rodders would  stroke their beards.  While the Jaguar enthusiasts would watch while sipping their gin.

My intention for the thread is more to start a discussion on Rat Rods. They have me intrigued. Your reply is an excellent starting point. 
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chicar
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« Reply #3 on: March 10, 2019, 06:53:59 pm »

Counter arguments through fictional examples: In the anime Last Exiles ( who is very steampunk) , the protagonists are air rat rod racers by profession.

Anything can be steampunk if they have the steampunk esthetic .
« Last Edit: March 10, 2019, 07:01:33 pm by chicar » Logged

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« Reply #4 on: March 10, 2019, 07:14:02 pm »

No. Rat Rods are very well defined historically. It's an offshoot of hot rodding which started in the late 1930s. Also, Rat Rods are strictly a post WWII phenomenon, onset immediately after WWII, which makes them Atomic Age / Atompunk specifically.

Rat Rods are a dirtier and more functional version of Hot Rods, which some people considered to be not much more than expensive show cars. The Rat Rod style is more of a blue collar origin, and is usually unfinished and much more exaggerated in its features than a Hot Rod.

As far as being associated with a culture, you can't separate Rat Rod from Rockers. Rat Rod thrived after a decade from the onset of the fad right at the start of the Rock and Roll era. The people building them were the veterans of WWII who came back with mechanical skills or their younger brothers who were learning the skills to repair cars from the veterans.

Dieselpunk: "Valdai" Model 1951 by Lipatov. More Atompunk ? The lines are blurred, but it's not Steampunk
https://www.deviantart.com/lipatov/art/Dieselpunk-hovercraft-131993906
« Last Edit: March 10, 2019, 11:41:29 pm by J. Wilhelm » Logged

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« Reply #5 on: March 10, 2019, 07:45:18 pm »

Counter arguments through fictional examples: In the anime Last Exiles ( who is very steampunk) , the protagonists are air rat rod racers by profession.

Anything can be steampunk if they have the steampunk esthetic .

I still think of Last Exile as being more Dieselpunk than Steampunk though. There's very little Steampunk proper because the person who designed the characters was more of an Art Déco fan than the people who wrote the story.

The aesthetics drawn by Renji "Range" Murata are clearly - flat out - Dieselpunk, for most (not all) characters who sometimes even look like 1920s Flappers. The lower nobles or leaders of the combatant nations have more of an Edwardian feel, so that is the Steampunk proper side. The politically unaligned rabble living in the badlands is a mixed bag of styles depending on which character you look at, but there's a penchant for post Apocalyptic fashion (also required by the story) which gives the unaligned badlands inhabitants a Steampunk flair.

Character design by Renji Murata looks very Art Deco to me.
Dio, one of the principal characters (if not the main one) is basically a male flapper
and Murata gave Dio's sister, the evil Queen Delphine, a trippy Art Deco costume
Lavie, one of the main character is presented as a very 1920s looking girl as well





Though some characters, mostly tied to nobility or the miliitary seem very Victorian or Edwardian as well

The badlands inhabitants (not pictured), the so, called "pirates" in Last Exile 2 (Fam: The Silver Wing, which takes place on Planet Earth, not Prester) are the only ones I see who are looking "Post Apocalyptic," but they really are not the main story in Last Exile. The main story is mankind's hidden origin and it is precisely the mixed bag of disjointed technologies and aesthetics, coupled with the alien-like technology of the Guild, which give strong clues to the prehistory of Prester, the world they live in during the 1st series. The various kingdoms are battling each other unaware of why their individual technologies are so different or the obvious fact that they are being controlled by a master race living in the lap of luxury in the heavens.

The Guild are very alien-like, with a mix of Ancient Roman and Art Deco and much higher techology
while their subordinates make due with WWI and Meiji Era style battleships and uniforms



More relevant to this thread though, the flying vehicles themselves either look like hot rods or rat rods, depending on the level of wealth of the one who built it, with the exception of The Guild who fly in near Alien-like ships. The giant military ships are more akin to WWI naval battleships and the aesthetics of uniformed personnel begin to look Steampunk only because of the Japanese penchant for Meiji Era naval technology. The exception are the uniformed mechanics who look Diesel to me.

Last Exile's "Vanships" are roughly analogous to Hot Rods and Rat Rods

I imagine the Edwardian side of Last Exile is just required from the storyline, but Murata was given  ample latitude to design the characters, which heavily tilt the Animé toward the Dieselpunk side.
« Last Edit: March 10, 2019, 09:39:12 pm by J. Wilhelm » Logged
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« Reply #6 on: March 10, 2019, 11:35:47 pm »

Diesel/Atompunk Rat Rods








« Last Edit: March 10, 2019, 11:43:45 pm by J. Wilhelm » Logged
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« Reply #7 on: March 11, 2019, 02:04:20 am »

I SURRENDER. You make your point loud and clear. Tongue

Hovewer, this conversation as thus far only been centered on how rat rods appeared in OUR history .I should mention than race car of fortune can be steam powered and have a pre-WWI esthetic. As i said, steampunk being a mostly esthetic genre, everything can be steampunk with the right esthetic, and i shall die fighting pointless « is that tech steampunk? » debate.
« Last Edit: March 11, 2019, 02:17:28 am by chicar » Logged
Hurricane Annie
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« Reply #8 on: March 11, 2019, 03:33:28 am »

No. Rat Rods are very well defined historically. It's an offshoot of hot rodding which started in the late 1930s. Also, Rat Rods are strictly a post WWII phenomenon, onset immediately after WWII, which makes them Atomic Age / Atompunk specifically.

Rat Rods are a dirtier and more functional version of Hot Rods, which some people considered to be not much more than expensive show cars. The Rat Rod style is more of a blue collar origin, and is usually unfinished and much more exaggerated in its features than a Hot Rod.

As far as being associated with a culture, you can't separate Rat Rod from Rockers. Rat Rod thrived after a decade from the onset of the fad right at the start of the Rock and Roll era. The people building them were the veterans of WWII who came back with mechanical skills or their younger brothers who were learning the skills to repair cars from the veterans.

Dieselpunk: "Valdai" Model 1951 by Lipatov. More Atompunk ? The lines are blurred, but it's not Steampunk
https://www.deviantart.com/lipatov/art/Dieselpunk-hovercraft-131993906

. I didn't know  rat rod origins went back that far.  I had assumed they were a recent dad.  Now you explain it, It d oes make sense they would go back that far; it explains the 40s  style  aesthetics  and accessories.    Are the vehicles a fad that has returned or has its continued to chug along since inception.
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Hurricane Annie
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« Reply #9 on: March 11, 2019, 03:35:08 am »

I SURRENDER. You make your point loud and clear. Tongue

Hovewer, this conversation as thus far only been centered on how rat rods appeared in OUR history .I should mention than race car of fortune can be steam powered and have a pre-WWI esthetic. As i said, steampunk being a mostly esthetic genre, everything can be steampunk with the right esthetic, and i shall die fighting pointless « is that tech steampunk? » debate.

 If the peaked cap fits - glue a cog on it

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« Reply #10 on: March 11, 2019, 04:16:38 am »

No. Rat Rods are very well defined historically. It's an offshoot of hot rodding which started in the late 1930s. Also, Rat Rods are strictly a post WWII phenomenon, onset immediately after WWII, which makes them Atomic Age / Atompunk specifically.

Rat Rods are a dirtier and more functional version of Hot Rods, which some people considered to be not much more than expensive show cars. The Rat Rod style is more of a blue collar origin, and is usually unfinished and much more exaggerated in its features than a Hot Rod.

As far as being associated with a culture, you can't separate Rat Rod from Rockers. Rat Rod thrived after a decade from the onset of the fad right at the start of the Rock and Roll era. The people building them were the veterans of WWII who came back with mechanical skills or their younger brothers who were learning the skills to repair cars from the veterans.

Dieselpunk: "Valdai" Model 1951 by Lipatov. More Atompunk ? The lines are blurred, but it's not Steampunk
https://www.deviantart.com/lipatov/art/Dieselpunk-hovercraft-131993906

. I didn't know  rat rod origins went back that far.  I had assumed they were a recent dad.  Now you explain it, It d oes make sense they would go back that far; it explains the 40s  style  aesthetics  and accessories.    Are the vehicles a fad that has returned or has its continued to chug along since inception.

The short answer is that in the US it never stopped. It's a stand alone industry. There's a continuous line since its inception and there's a number of personalities associated with the Hot Rod and Rat Rod movements. Many people worked in auto customising in the 1960s and 1970s, and are still working today, or have retired with apprentices or family continuing the business.

The long answer:

Wiki Hot Rod
Spoiler (click to show/hide)

Wiki Rat Rod
Spoiler (click to show/hide)
« Last Edit: March 11, 2019, 04:50:51 am by J. Wilhelm » Logged
chironex
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« Reply #11 on: March 11, 2019, 12:48:51 pm »

No. Rat Rods are very well defined historically. It's an offshoot of hot rodding which started in the late 1930s. Also, Rat Rods are strictly a post WWII phenomenon, onset immediately after WWII, which makes them Atomic Age / Atompunk specifically.

Rat Rods are a dirtier and more functional version of Hot Rods, which some people considered to be not much more than expensive show cars. The Rat Rod style is more of a blue collar origin, and is usually unfinished and much more exaggerated in its features than a Hot Rod.

As far as being associated with a culture, you can't separate Rat Rod from Rockers. Rat Rod thrived after a decade from the onset of the fad right at the start of the Rock and Roll era. The people building them were the veterans of WWII who came back with mechanical skills or their younger brothers who were learning the skills to repair cars from the veterans.

Dieselpunk: "Valdai" Model 1951 by Lipatov. More Atompunk ? The lines are blurred, but it's not Steampunk

I questioned whether that picture should be diesel or atompunk, given that I see no real means to insert antigrav into dieselpunk. The artist's response was to "soil his nappy" and block me.

Certainly the notion of whether something should be steampunk is more complex than "can General Mayhem's 808 Hellcat plant be replaced with a steam plant?"

As to hot vs. rat:

A hot rod. At least it can be driven.


A rat rod. It can be driven.


A show rod. You try driving it.
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« Reply #12 on: March 11, 2019, 03:03:21 pm »

I SURRENDER. You make your point loud and clear. Tongue

Hovewer, this conversation as thus far only been centered on how rat rods appeared in OUR history .I should mention than race car of fortune can be steam powered and have a pre-WWI esthetic. As i said, steampunk being a mostly esthetic genre, everything can be steampunk with the right esthetic, and i shall die fighting pointless « is that tech steampunk? » debate.

I think our history defines the rules of engagement for whether something is steampunk, not just "can it be steam powered"

I see those those pictures, the machines don't say Vicwardian.  They look DieselPunk because of the art style.  Even the logo for Last Exiles, with the wings on the ends feels like a 40's/50's style.

It's not about fictional worlds and alternate time lines, it's about what It looks like as compared to our timeline of design styles and aesthetics on whether something is steampunk, or something else.
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« Reply #13 on: March 11, 2019, 04:22:53 pm »

My definition of Steampunk is, looking into the future from a Victorian perspective.

In the Victorian era, there where no internal combustion engines and little to none assembly line manufacturing of vehicles. Also, the roads wheren't as smooth and comfortable as today. Leisure traveling and recreational vehicles wheren't common back in the Victorian era.

In theory, a Victorian era science fiction writer could think of a futuristic world where all of the above where met, but I think it's highly impossible. Most science fiction reflects the troubles of present time and the foreseen resolts in the future.
That said, H.G. Wells and Jules Verne had written a lot of impossible (at that time) books.

As for the visual aspect of a Steampunk rat rod: I like the appeal of the earth tone color scheme and the brass/cast iron look. But a Steampunk rad rod kind of looks like a Steampunk Nerf or a Steampunk laptop. Just put a cog on it and call it Steampunk doesn't apply on everything...
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« Reply #14 on: March 11, 2019, 10:04:59 pm »

No. Rat Rods are very well defined historically. It's an offshoot of hot rodding which started in the late 1930s. Also, Rat Rods are strictly a post WWII phenomenon, onset immediately after WWII, which makes them Atomic Age / Atompunk specifically.

Rat Rods are a dirtier and more functional version of Hot Rods, which some people considered to be not much more than expensive show cars. The Rat Rod style is more of a blue collar origin, and is usually unfinished and much more exaggerated in its features than a Hot Rod.

As far as being associated with a culture, you can't separate Rat Rod from Rockers. Rat Rod thrived after a decade from the onset of the fad right at the start of the Rock and Roll era. The people building them were the veterans of WWII who came back with mechanical skills or their younger brothers who were learning the skills to repair cars from the veterans.

Dieselpunk: "Valdai" Model 1951 by Lipatov. More Atompunk ? The lines are blurred, but it's not Steampunk
https://www.deviantart.com/lipatov/art/Dieselpunk-hovercraft-131993906

. I didn't know  rat rod origins went back that far.  I had assumed they were a recent dad.  Now you explain it, It d oes make sense they would go back that far; it explains the 40s  style  aesthetics  and accessories.    Are the vehicles a fad that has returned or has its continued to chug along since inception.

The short answer is that in the US it never stopped. It's a stand alone industry. There's a continuous line since its inception and there's a number of personalities associated with the Hot Rod and Rat Rod movements. Many people worked in auto customising in the 1960s and 1970s, and are still working today, or have retired with apprentices or family continuing the business.

The long answer:

Wiki Hot Rod
Spoiler (click to show/hide)

Wiki Rat Rod
Spoiler (click to show/hide)

 Your post  and its links have me wondering if, during Ww2, soldiers posted in far flung places modified and canabalised defunct  civilian  vehicles in their down time, and raced them to let off steam.  Given the diverse pool of occupations  and abilities  of military personnel and the need for survival, there would gave been a mother load of ingenuity.  The stress of being far from home in a war zone would have required  a strong out let for creative expression  and excess adrenalin.   Building rods  would have  filled that  void perfectly.
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Hurricane Annie
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« Reply #15 on: March 11, 2019, 10:19:15 pm »

My definition of Steampunk is, looking into the future from a Victorian perspective.

In the Victorian era, there where no internal combustion engines and little to none assembly line manufacturing of vehicles. Also, the roads wheren't as smooth and comfortable as today. Leisure traveling and recreational vehicles wheren't common back in the Victorian era.

In theory, a Victorian era science fiction writer could think of a futuristic world where all of the above where met, but I think it's highly impossible. Most science fiction reflects the troubles of present time and the foreseen resolts in the future.
That said, H.G. Wells and Jules Verne had written a lot of impossible (at that time) books.

As for the visual aspect of a Steampunk rat rod: I like the appeal of the earth tone color scheme and the brass/cast iron look. But a Steampunk rad rod kind of looks like a Steampunk Nerf or a Steampunk laptop. Just put a cog on it and call it Steampunk doesn't apply on everything...

 Your a Bicycle builder. So  what would you know ; }. I do happen to agree with you  though. Anything is possible in an alternative world of a science fiction tome. Though channelling  anything to theme has a risk of appearing to forced or cliche and a tad narrow .

What drew me to the subject was the  nostalgic industrial look , it lends to the imagination. I found it a little inspiring for  notions and possibilities that weren't necessarily vehicular.
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« Reply #16 on: March 12, 2019, 11:47:39 am »

@Hurricane Annie:
It is possible if I would change my definition of Steampunk.
If Steampunk is set in the future, after a global electric meltdown and the dry-out of oil, we would have to find another way to move around. Water and wood/charcoal will always be around, so altering an existing combustion engine to run on alternative fuils, might just work. Or a small steam engine in an existing vehicle.

The look would be more Mad Max with the re-use of existing materials like plastic containers, rubber tires, sheet metal vehicle panels. At one point, all oil based materials would be re-used untill no longer useable, so they would turn to more available materials like wood. Technology and knowledge is available, so the mindset would be different then in the Victorian era. People would be working towards a way to remake some kind of plastic and some kind of electrical system.
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« Reply #17 on: March 12, 2019, 02:46:29 pm »

This situation reminds me of Frank Herbert's Dune, and the way different movies/TV shows interpreted the aesthetics. Steampunk is in the eye of the beholder. In the Raffaella De Laurentiis movie, the Harkonnen look like deranged late 18th. C ethnically Celtic industrialists, with an addiction to Spice. In the TV series (I forgot who did one) the Harkonnen looked more like ancient Romans. It's all a matter of interpretation.

In that sense, I can see why you could associate Steampunk with Last Exile. Last Exile is by definition Post-apocalyptic (humans left Earth and eventually forgot where they came from. They stumble on the fact they are living on an artificial planet and then they come back to Earth in the second series). I can call it Dieselpunk, but strictly speaking this is a medley of eras. It's Murata's art specifically that make it Diesel, but the story itself may not be.

That is where the lines get very blurred. The Post-apocalyptic interpretation of Steampunk (favored by survivalists and the DIY crowd) will always break away from Vicwardian aesthetics, because by nature it is assumed that humanity has regressed to a previous state from some parting point in the future, but not forgotten all of the lessons of the past. Typically Steampunk is Anachronistic in the sense that an alternate timeline parted from a point in the past. The timeline breaks away during the Vicwardian Era, and that makes Steampunk what it is as opposed to Diesel or Atompunk.

Curiously, however Post-apocalypsis is assumed to be within the domain of Steampunk. I don't know why, other than to say that Steampunk was probably the first widely known retro-futuristic movement at the time DIY's were discovering their penchant for retrofuturism, does that make sense? The inspiration for the post-apocalyptic aesthetic is the present or the future, but never the past. There's no reason to give preference to 19th. C aesthetics, over Jazz Age/Deco, over Space Age, or the Computer Age for that matter. You can survive nuclear winter with any aesthetic you like...

Wouldn't then "Post-apocalypsis-ism" be more akin to Cyberpunk, or something like that, so the timeline is in reverse? That's when the literary concept of Uchronism comes forth - that is a thing, Uchronia or Uchronism is defined as a literary device where the writer intentionally does not identify a historical period, an undefined period like the Hyborean Age in the Conan series by Robert E Howard.

Radioactive Peanuts? "It's the Apocalypse Charlie Brown"
Illustration by Max Dunbar, colors by Vitali Lakovlev.
« Last Edit: March 12, 2019, 11:49:02 pm by J. Wilhelm » Logged
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« Reply #18 on: March 12, 2019, 07:18:00 pm »

In a word: NO!

Ratrods and their 2 wheeled brethren Ratbikes, firmly belong in the "Survival/wasteland/mutoid" camp.

(From an ex Ratbiker!!!!!)
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« Reply #19 on: March 12, 2019, 11:42:59 pm »

 

  The post apocalypsis turn in the discussion by you chaps is interesting,  in the context of  the origins of Rat Rods and Bikes. Battle fields, war zones and occupation zones would  have a post apocalyptic  atmosphere  and affect.  Being in those zones would be survival in its extreme, for military and civilians. Out of extremity  comes inngenuity  and inspiration. Post War, interbellum people needed the escapism of fantasy and creativity. Rock n Roll, hippies, bikers, pop art and so on.

 There is so much we take for granted.
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« Reply #20 on: March 12, 2019, 11:45:46 pm »

 

  The post apocalypsis turn in the discussion by you chaps is interesting,  in the context of  the origins of Rat Rods and Bikes. Battle fields, war zones and occupation zones would  have a post apocalyptic  atmosphere  and affect.  Being in those zones would be survival in its extreme, for military and civilians. Out of extremity  comes inngenuity  and inspiration. Post War, interbellum people needed the escapism of fantasy and creativity. Rock n Roll, hippies, bikers, pop art and so on.

 There is so much we take for granted.

Well yeah, of course! Apocalypse and Rat Rods go togetehr like chocolate and peanut butter. I mean, look at Post-apocalyptic Charlie Brown, above. Who else would own a jet powered levitating VW Beetle?
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« Reply #21 on: March 13, 2019, 12:15:42 am »

Just putting this here:
www.youtube.com/watch?v=xHTfOEC7sZU
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« Reply #22 on: March 13, 2019, 01:07:27 am »

In a word: NO!

Ratrods and their 2 wheeled brethren Ratbikes, firmly belong in the "Survival/wasteland/mutoid" camp.

(From an ex Ratbiker!!!!!)

Ditto.
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« Reply #23 on: March 13, 2019, 04:49:13 am »



If I didn't know Dieselpunk (aka WhateverComesAfterSteam-Punk) existed, I might maybe label something like that steampunk.

But I do know it exists. And that's cars and tech and looks that exceed the Vicwardian aesthetic, so it probably ain't steampunk.  Despite them putting the monicker on the package.

I think anybody branding something as steampunk (particular for sale) runs the risk of ridicule for reaching too far and missing.

On the other hand, it looks like a fun crazy race game, and that might score it grace.  We've all seen crappy things labeled steampunk that aren't to know what Fail looks like.
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Hurricane Annie
Zeppelin Captain
*****
New Zealand New Zealand



« Reply #24 on: March 13, 2019, 08:58:20 am »

Here for your enjoyment, are a showing of TROG videos [The Race of Gentlemen]


http://youtu.be/ne_H3WG1xXc

https://youtu.be/j9COT3xors4

http://youtu.be/luoelp-wDKA

« Last Edit: March 13, 2019, 09:02:19 am by Hurricane Annie » Logged
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