Mini-Feature: Joel McKinley’s Diesel Rat Rod, “Fearless Boogie”


You never know what kind of cool builds you will find on the internet on a given day. Sometimes you will locate a killer Cummins truck on a forum, other times it’s social media outlets like Instagram with a specially made rat rod.

That was just the case when we discovered Joel McKinley and his rustic automobile. Joel’s Instagram page has some awesome creations, whether it’s a drifting trike or a bright red ’67 Chevy truck merged with a 1990s stepside bed.

The inspiration for the build? "Zombies, the apocalypse, military, Hell, demons," said Joel. "Basically, what the Devil would drive if he had a tow truck."

But his recent rat rod project is one that got us excited. We reached out to the man to get his thoughts and learn a little more about what he had to do for this low-slung vintage beast.

Hailing from Fredericksburg, Virginia, Joel is a certified auto collision repair specialist who “really just loves cars,” as he put it – not that we had a reason to doubt that claim! “I am currently working at Extreme Custom Collision in Woodbridge, Virginia,” he said. “I do auto collision and am the head technician and shop foreman.”

Joel was able to trace the history of the rat rod back to two builders, Josh and Vince, who had started it in 2009. Unfortunately, the duo reached creative differences and had to let it go.


The exhaust pipe is a repurposed artillery shell that Joel found at a flea market. Much of the vehicle is made from odds and ends, including electrical conduit, sawblades, bayonets, and more.


The cab, made from a 1939 Chevy truck, was heavily chopped. The grille is from a 1949 Mack truck, modified to look like the nose of an early Indy car. All of the welds to the body were brazed, and Joel went around and added decorative “X” marks to look like stitches in certain spots.

In 2014, Joel’s boss, Chris, purchased it for him and Joel to work on. “We are partners and co-owners of it, and we called it ‘Fearless Boogie,” said Joel.

Getting Fearless Boogie to actually run was the most difficult thing when Joel first started tinkering. “It needed ether to start, wouldn’t run for very long, and had a bunch of mechanical problems,” he said. “Plus, it wasn’t easy find all of the old stuff for the build.”

A video posted by Joel Mckinley (@krazybooter) on

Fortunately, much of those problems are gone now, and Fearless Boogie can perform on command. Its heart is a 7.3-liter Power Stroke, which is mated to a E40D overdrive automatic transmission and one-ton dually rear axle.

The body was clearcoated to retain its patina, and the driver sits on the right-hand side of the vehicle. Facing him is a square steering “wheel” with a four-way wrench as its centerpiece. He can control the ride height with airbags on all four corners, managed by twin Viair air compressors.

Left: The rearend is a one-ton dually axle, putting down power from the 7.3-liter Power Stroke and E40D automatic transmission. Right: The interior shows the vehicle is right-hand-drive, with a steering wheel made from a four-way wrench.

Shifting is controlled with a bayonet (yes, you read that right), and the door handle is made from a tram shaft and spider gear. “The rear bed and boom are made from old car parts and scrap metal like rebar, a leaf spring, brake rotors, and so on,” said Joel. The boom crane, however, is decorative.

These and other bizarro parts – an artillery shell, a sawblade, wrenches, electrical conduit – all found their way onto Fearless Boogie. It’s certainly a vehicle we’d love to take a spin in, and one we know you all would too. Check out more from Joel on his Instagram page, and keep those creative juices flowing!

Joel plans to add a turbocharger, intercooler, and external wastegate into Fearless Boogie sometime in the future.

Joel plans to add a turbocharger, intercooler, and external wastegate into Fearless Boogie sometime in the future.

About the author

David Chick

David Chick comes to us ready for adventure. With passions that span clean and fast Corvettes all the way to down and dirty off-road vehicles (just ask him about his dream Jurassic Park Explorer), David's eclectic tastes lend well to his multiple automotive writing passions.
Read My Articles

Rolling coal in your inbox.

Build your own custom newsletter with the content you love from Diesel Army, directly to your inbox, absolutely FREE!

Free WordPress Themes