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Rat Rod Deere Is Builder’s “Daily Driver”
“As long as it’s 60 degrees or more, my custom-built Deere Rat Rod is my ‘daily driver,’” says Texas inventor Jesse Madaffari. “I had the idea for this floating in my head for 7 or 8 years and finally put it together, using a 1982 GMC S15 truck frame, a 496 big block engine, a cab from a 1975 Deere 7520 tractor, and the hood from a Deere 4450.
It’s a real head-turner and a lot of fun to drive.”
Tricked out with several engine modifications, Madaffari says his “Square Body” vehicle probably has more than 700 hp. and is capable of sub-10 second runs in a quarter mile. He says even though it’s quick on the track, it performs just fine on conventional roadways.
His custom-built rig is a staple at car shows and drew a lot of attention at the February 2022 Sick Week event in Florida. Madaffari was among 350 participants who competed over 5 days of drag and drive competition at five different drag strips. Madaffari’s average time during the five runs was 12.56 seconds and 95.88 mph.
To qualify for the competition, owners must not only race but drive their vehicles between tracks on a pre-set route. During the event, participants admire vehicles, socialize, share stories, and Madaffari says, “Just plain have fun.”
The cab for Madaffari’s vehicle is similar to the one on a 7520 Deere tractor that he used to drive while working fields in his native Texas. He salvaged it from a farmer he knew who’d taken it off the tractor and set it near a fence line where it was surrounded by sunflowers with a tree growing through the roof. During the same trip to recover the cab, he found the hood from a burned-out 4450 Deere tractor. He says those two items really set his rig apart, along with the custom engine, transmission, paintwork, and graphics by his wife Mimi, who he says is “in charge of the pretty.” He says all those characteristics are key for Rat Rod builders.

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2022 - Volume #46, Issue #6