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I am wondering if the "Joker" is found in other parts of the country

I Grew up in north eastern Minnesota on the Mesabi Iron Range. Growing up I remember seeing cut up cars around peoples places, they where mostly used for beating around in the woods. My father and others called these “Jokers”.

The Joker often had only the firewall, inner fenders and floor pan remaining on the frame, and the two front seats still in place. Sometimes the front clip was in tact, sometimes just the firewall and windshield. I can remember seeing cars from the 30s-60s cut up in this manner.

Im wondering about the origin of the name and if it was used around the country or if the Joker is a Northern Minnesota creation. I live near St. Paul now and city folk just look at me with blank stares when asked about the Joker.


They used to be common in the south, particularly in areas where people owned lots of land. I had a neighbor years ago that stripped an old Range Rover this way to bang around his property. Actually, he traded a good car for it (he HAD to have a 4x4) and discovered the thing was too rotted out to pass inspection, so he HAD to do SOMETHING with it… or his wife would have divorced him!

‘round here they don’t take tham apart and leave them apart…they reassemble many diferent parts from many different vehicles and have a …’‘RAT ROD’’ composite (…er…’‘hybrid’’ ? ) resulting vehicle.

“Rat rods” are getting more common up here too.

Yesterday I got to look at and talk to the owner of (for most of an hour) the coolest hot rod I’ve seen in many years. It was (I think) a '29 chassis with a '32 four cylinder, with no serious modifications. It had a 'glass '32 body with aluminum buckets, no fenders, no hood, no nothing. Very. very basic. It had a bimetallic choke (a modification) but still has a hand-operated throttle. Mechanical brakes, original suspension, original axles, original wire wheels, all the old stuff. The engine was fire-engine red with a flat white exhaust. The engine fired up immediately and sounded really, really tight (in a good way). No carbon, no oil, nothing out the exhaust.

Speaking of rat rods, I thought this one was pretty cool:

…A rose by any other name…

A guy at work has a pretty awesome one that looks like a combination of steampunk and Carmageddon. It’s a hodge-podge of many cars from the 30s and 40s. Original paint and blemishes, covered with a clear coat. The one nod to modernity is a Chevy small block under the hood.

Around western NY State, what you call a Joker is just called a field car, usually driven on private property by farm boys not old enough to get a license
Joker sounds a lot cooler, let us know if you find out where it came from…

Field car , Thanks! I will let you know what I find. Im going to hit some of the “If you grew up in xxxxx” pages for the small Iron Range towns on FB to see If I can get some photos from people. The attached photo is of a Joker made from a 1926 Touring car. Photo is from the early to mid 50s. Fella driving told me that the steering wheel had rotted away so you had to steer it with the remaining spokes.

The Texas tradition of quail hunting cars would fit this bill:

Here’s another interesting class of homebuilt vehicle, the “doodlebug tractor,” which
I had never heard of until seeing this one posted for sale on Craigslist:

Around here we call them ATVs.

Never heard it called a doodlebug, but my Missouri grandfather’s first ‘tractor’ was one of those, though it predated WWII by a few years. During the Depression he couldn’t afford a proper tractor so he and a brother made up something from Ford truck parts. Right after WWII he bought his first proper tractor, also a Ford, and had it until he retired twenty years later. It was a little thong compared to any modern farm tractor, but before that most things were done with draft horses. The homemade tractor wasn’t good for much but towing light trailers. It didn’t have enough power to plow or pull or harrow or pull a combine. It was still rotting away behind the barn when I was a kid. Parts of it might still be.

I never heard the term “Joker” before but “Junker” is a common term around here. Here in the southeast a lot of salvage yards (junk yards) have front wheel drive vehicles that have the rear cut off (no rear wheels) to ferry parts around from place to place. They just drag the rear portions of the floor pans around the dirt roads in the yard. I guess it keeps the ruts down when it rains.

Which reminds me of this nutcase:

I kept waiting for the fail in that video, yet no fail occurred. I am disappoint

Yeah…that will keep a dirt road smooth. Sounds like the video was made in Germany or Austria.

@bscar2 if you are looking for a fail in a video, try this, some car related stuff!