Hot rod art lives in an interesting space. Custom cars themselves are often viewed as art, so when hot rod style bleeds into actual art, the result can seem trivial, especially if the piece is non-functional. However, even my non-art-loving self can get down with this hot-rodded surfboard.
Yep, you read that correctly. Hot rodding is a mindset, not a checklist of modifications to a prewar Ford, and this custom surfboard proves it. The base is a classic T61 foam surfboard that was shaped by Bob Krauss before being fiberglassed and, finally, covered in aluminum—which alone makes the thing impressive, as someone who has done some aluminum shaping.
On top of that brushed aluminum sit some sweet mechanical parts. A Smith and Jones intake manifold from a flathead Ford with twin Stromberg 97 carbs is the centerpiece, but that’s complemented by a sweet Moon gas pedal, Smith tachometer, and a set of zoomie-style headers. The contraption was assembled in the mid-1950s when the excitement of big-wave surfing attracted the attention of the same thrill-seeking folks who were fascinated by hot rodding.
The curator of the Santa Barbara Surf Museum, Jim O’Mahoney is the brains behind this build. He built the Surf Rat as a tribute to his grade school years, when he and his friends would doodle wild customs in their notebooks or build models of Rat Fink-style hotrods with massive engines erupting from their miniature bodies.
The Surf Rat looks absurd, which is probably the point. It serves as a great reminder not to take ourselves too seriously; building cool stuff for the sake of building cool stuff is absolutely acceptable. The bonkers board spent some time in a surf museum, but it really would seem most at home in a car collection, which might be why Bonhams has listed The Surf Rat in its “California Dreaming” online auction. It carries a presale estimate of $9000–$12,000. It may never see water, but would you hang ten large on this board? You’ve got until Wednesday, August 12.