Transmogrify – The Rat Rods and Transformation

On March 23, 1987, cartoonist Bill Watterson introduced his readers to ‘The Transmogrifier’. In appearance, it looked like a cardboard box, but in the hands of Calvin and Hobbes, it was a miraculous change agent.

Calvin: You step into this chamber, set the appropriate dials, and it turns you into whatever you’d like to be.
Hobbes: It’s amazing what they can do with corrugated cardboard these days.
– Bill Watterson –

‘Transmogrify’ was a new word to me, but the dictionary says it has been with us since the 1650’s. It means ‘to change into something very different, especially in a way that is funny or strange’.

I can’t think of a better world to describe the cars below – the Rat Rods. They are built from salvaged parts and random trinkets. No two would ever be alike!

Above all, rat rods are built to be enjoyed and driven. They are a mechanic’s art form that allow each builder to think outside the box.
– Tara Hurlin –




I can’t get The Car Guy interested in building one of these cars. His transmogrify box must be broken…

555-henry garden sculpture

We have done our own small transmogrifying project though. A visit to a friends’ farm revealed a wealth of metal scraps. I chose rakes for some wings, a big spring and a length of rebar for the backbone, a hinge for the beak, some nails for a tail, and some bits that I don’t even know what they once were, for the rest of the body. Once our Friendly Farmer Friend welded the bits together for me, I decided  my creation was a chicken. I named her Henrietta. Some time later, The Car Guy and FFF made a slight modification to Henrietta. They added a bolt and a couple of nuts… and that is how my chicken became Henry.

What do you think of when you hear the word Transmogrify?

This weeks WordPress Photo Challenge is Transmogrify.

24 thoughts on “Transmogrify – The Rat Rods and Transformation

  1. It’s amazing what you can do with corrugated metal and a few nuts and bolts these days! Fun post. I love Henry/Henrietta; maybe I can get my ‘car guy’ to teach me how to use his welder so I can make something similar from the spare ‘bits and bobs’ in the garage!


    1. I’m thinking the welder is much like the chop saw and other tools that scare me. I find the material, design what I want, lay it out on the floor or work bench, and then direct someone else where to weld or cut!


    1. I thought Watterson must have made it up too. I didn’t bother to look the word up until this Photo Challenge came along.

      Henry was nice as Henrietta too. The men told me they just tacked the extra bits on, and they would probably just fall off. Eight years later, Henry’s malehood is still firmly attached.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. ‘Transmogrify’ was a new word for me too. 1650, I’d of never guessed. It’s such a pretensious word, I’d of thought it was more modern than that.
    Love the Rat Rods. Those are some clever and talented mechanics.
    Your chicken is so artsy. You’re very talented.
    Interesting about the nuts and bolts. You usually don’t see that in a chicken. 😀


  3. “Transmogrify’ was a new word to me too. Up to this moment I thought I was the only one,

    Wow… the cars made from scratch are really impressive. I would love to watch the process of building them


  4. I’ve never heard that word! But I wrote a post on Rat Rods several years ago, and it is my most viewed post ever. (Has only a handful of comments, but lots of folks have read it!)


    1. I just read your Rat Rod post – fun bunch of vehicles!
      Isn’t it funny which posts end up being the most popular. My most famous one is about Induction Pots and Pans .

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I was thinking more along the lines of how I might use one of these beasts to express my displeasure when someone hogs two spots in the parking lot…


  5. It’s hard for me to think of anything other than Calvin & Hobbes when I think of ‘transmogrify.’ I’ve actually got a Calvin & Hobbes collection on the bedroom nightstand at this very moment.


    1. Me too (the Calvin & Hobbes collection next to my bed part). I bought the 3 volume hard cover edition when it showed up at Costco. A few pages a night is good. More than that, and Calvin becomes cruel and fiendish in my dreams…


  6. I saw my first and only rat rods a few years ago up on Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park. They were parked conspicuously at my usual turnaround and I found them fascinating.


    1. Fascinating is a good word. The ones I’ve seen made clever use of items not usually seen on vehicles!


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