Auto Briefs

Hugh Hiott owns this Model A, which he says is a much-used farm truck and not a rat rod.

Local car collector Hugh Hiott says he needs to clarify misconceptions about his rusty Model A truck. The vehicle has been described as a rat rod, including in a photo caption for the Royall Hardware car show Nov. 7 in The Post and Courier’s Automotive section.

“The term rat rod about my Model A pickup is incorrect!” Hiott wrote in an email. “‘Rat Rod’ is a term used more frequently as more rat rods are being built and driven but my pickup is a sterling example (my words!) of a well used but unrestored, maintained and original survivor farm truck. It was ridden hard and put to bed wet apparently many times in the past but still draws stares ... and is fun to drive.”

According to a definition of rat rod that he said he found online, “Originally, rat rods were a counter-reaction to the high-priced ‘customs’ and typical hot rods, many of which were seldom driven and served only a decorative purpose. The rat rod’s inception signified a throwback to the hot rods of the earlier days of hot-rod culture — built according to the owner’s abilities and with the intention of being driven. “Recently, the term ‘rat rod’ has been used incorrectly to describe almost any vehicle that appears unfinished or is built simply to be driven.”

Hiott says his 1930s era truck, while lacking paint and looking disheveled, is a well-run working-class vehicle. “So, it can be seen that my truck is not a rat rod but an original survivor!”

The car buff says the title “de GeeChees,” visible on the truck bed, came from the name of the team in The Citadel’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) trebuchet for competition. The truck transported the trebuchet — a medieval military engine for hurling heavy missiles — to the event’s site, where it won second place for accuracy and first for design.

“I submit this not as derisive but as educational because others, too, have referred to my truck as a rat rod incorrectly,” Hiott said.

A key late season boat show gave credence to Summerville-based Zodiac Nautic North America’s remarks that the inflatable rafts maker is in solid financial and sales shape.

The company reports that product sales from the 2015 Ft. Lauderdale show in Florida last month nearly tripled from the 2014 event.

“Our sales were solid, and our dealers are continuing to follow up with leads who didn’t place orders directly from the show,” Zodiac Nautic North America President Gary Durnan said. “The mood in the booth on both sides was much more energetic than in years past,” he said.

New corporate owner and chief executive Dominique Heber-Suffrin spoke during a press conference at the show. Based on Heber-Suffrin’s “message of a renewed strength and passion for the Zodiac brand, you could feel the immediate impact,” Durnan said.

The company called the boat fest in south Florida “one of the best Ft. Lauderdale shows in its history in terms of product sales, booth traffic, customer mood and dealer excitement.”

Zodiac Nautic North America is a subsidiary of Zodiac Nautic, the world’s largest manufacturer of rigid inflatable boats, life rafts and safety equipment.

The Dorchester County subsidiary enhanced its “popular” Yachtline series and rolled out an exclusive Pro Open 650 FLIBS edition. “Plans are currently in the works for new model debuts in the 21-24 foot range for the upcoming 2016 Miami International Boat Show,” according to Zodiac North America.

“We have developed strong momentum for this 2016 model year, and we plan to continue this momentum as we move forward,” Durnan said. “Our message that ‘Zodiac is back’ is having a resounding impact on all parties within the industry.”

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