"Get On It!"

How to Build a Hot Rod - I have no idea

by motorfoot 12/2/2008 2:07:00 PM

The Jan 2009 issue of Ol' Skool Rodz has a nice article by Alan Mayes called Project Planning 101. As the "101" implies, the article was basic but had some good tips. Therefore, I thought it would be worthwhile to digest the advice and write my thoughts from a novice perspective.

Some of the main points I picked up from the article are:

  • Decide on a budget and stick to it.
  • Plan your build in stages.
  • Don't borrow money.
  • Keep it a roller.
  • Pay as you go.
"You can build a hot rod for $40,000 that is only worth 16K. Don't do it."

So, since I just recently started looking in to building a hot rod I thought I would take some of Alan's tips and mix in my thoughts and experience so far.

Decide on a budget and stick to it.

Because of my budget and lack of experience in building a hot rod my plan was to simply wait for a deal on ebay, but things happen.

I recently went to a hot rod shop to browse and maybe get a new t-shirt. During the visit I struck up a conversation with the shop manager. Well, he was so dad gum enthusiastic about my quest he got me thinking, "Is building a hot rod from scratch a viable option?" So we talked about what I was interested in and he put together an estimate. The bad news. If they were to do the whole thing from scratch it would cost $37,000, and what do you get? 1930's technology for the price of a used 2007 Corvette.

To make the budget I have no choice but to be involved in the build, which isn't a bad thing. I actually want to get back in to the hobby. So what I need to do is determine what makes sense for the builder to do, and what makes sense for me to do. Those are the key questions to answer to make sure this project is a success. It is the only way to get something safe and reliable and not be nickel and dimed by buying every little do dad from the hot rod catalog. Decide on a budget and stick to it.

Plan your build in stages.

Most everything that is moderately complex has components that work together as a system, such as brakes, electrical, tranny, etc. Like a house, there is a preferred order in which the stages should be completed. In addition, once the stages are determined, you can decide which stages you want to tackle, and which stages are beyond your skill level. So planning a build in stages makes a whole lot of sense when you have budget constraints.

Don't borrow money.

That hits home. After studying the quote the shop manager worked up I realized I would barely have a roller when my funds ran out. After that I had this vague idea about funding the "rest of the build" with miracle money. The reality is, I can not afford to borrow money to build a dream car when my daily driver needs work and my home appliances are cranky, and oh, the economy has gone to hell. Not a good time to be in debt. This is where the "build in stages" keeps you engaged. While you are squirrling away your spare change you can be researching the next stage of your build.

Keep it a roller.

What if you lose your job, get sick, or need cash for some unforeseen emergency? If worse comes to worse, a car with wheels is easier to sell or move in a hurry if you have to.

Pay as you go.

If you plan your build in stages you can pay in stages also. This is a win win situation. You don't over extend yourself and your builder has clear understanding of your budget and scope of work. If a stage goes over budget for some reason then you can adjust by waiting a little longer for the next stage or try to find a better deal on parts for the next stage. The key is you have options.


So those are my thoughts from a novice perspective on "Project Planning 101". As I progress in my planning I will write about the issues I come across and post any resources I learn about during the process. My goal is to have a completed hot rod that is safe, reliable, and just what I want. My goal in writing this series is to encourage you to give it a try. And, if you have already been there and done that, please feel free to share your experiences!

Stay tuned for pictures...


>> Rat Rod Inspiration - My Manefesto. It got me here.

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