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1951 Kaiser Drag'n build

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by NTAPHSE, Jun 13, 2008.

  1. NTAPHSE
    Joined: Feb 5, 2006
    Posts: 1,029

    NTAPHSE
    Member

    Well this has been a looong time coming, like 4 years since I started this build. In that time I have graduated college, moved to CA then back to AZ, gotten married, bought a house, and bought and sold a few other cars all of which of course distract me from this build.

    This is my '51 Kaiser Manhattan, I'm calling her Drag'n because Dragon was a Kaiser model, and well, she drags! I plan to get a Dragon badge and cut the "O" out once the car is painted.

    Let's start at the beginnning - summer of 04, I needed something to occupy my time. I was growing out of minitrucks, and I wanted to build something that might actually hold its value. I was on the verge of building an '84 S-10 Blazer and just couldn't throw away any more money building minitrucks. I knew I could apply the same principles to an old car and create something much cooler. Around this time I saw the Monster Garage episode where they built the yellow '54 Chevy and I knew I had to build an old car. A family friend is a big time Kaiser guy so I hit him up. Within days I towed home my '51 Kaiser for $150. Why $150? That's how much he was going to get for scrapping this rustbucket.

    Here she is when I picked her up. We pulled all the interior and drivetrain since I wouldn't need it anyways.

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    Got her home...

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    Last edited: Dec 16, 2010
  2. NTAPHSE
    Joined: Feb 5, 2006
    Posts: 1,029

    NTAPHSE
    Member

    First things first, I took the doors off and started measuring the chop. As you can see the floor and rockers were rusted badly. I also tried very hard to preserve the original 1950's oil change stickers on the A-pillar. I don't know what I'm going to do when it comes time to paint.

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    Here she is without a roof. The body was pretty rigid so I didn't brace it at all. I also cut the dash out because I planned to use the stock windshield and hide it behind the dash.

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    ...and with the roof in place. The back window came forward by about a foot. The B-pillars are also misaligned. I wound up taking them out of the car, chopping and angling them, then relocating them.

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  3. NTAPHSE
    Joined: Feb 5, 2006
    Posts: 1,029

    NTAPHSE
    Member

    I wanted a two door, so I took a little out of the back and put it in the front. I welded the back doors shut and boxed in the B-pillars to the edge of the door - presto it's a two door.

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    Everything all welded up...

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  4. NTAPHSE
    Joined: Feb 5, 2006
    Posts: 1,029

    NTAPHSE
    Member

    Once I was finished welding up the roof and replacing the rockers and floor I bought a retired cop car (95 9C1 Caprice) to use as a donor. At the time I was driving a 94 Caprice that was lowered, shaved, and had billet 20's on it and was very active in the local Impala club AZISSO. The guy I got my Kaiser from had one built on an '87 Caprice chassis and sure enough the frame looked alot like my 94. I found the donor car on eBay and beat it around town for a few days before tearing it down. Nothing like pegleg burnouts in an old cop car! The AZISSO guys helped me tear the car down to the frame in half a day.

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    I like this pic with the new Caprice frame in the foreground and the Kaiser sitting on its original frame in the background.

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  5. Bad Bob
    Joined: Jan 25, 2006
    Posts: 23,771

    Bad Bob
    Member
    from O.C. Baby

    There was a guy who had a bitchin Kaiser on here! Chopped and on a Caprice chassis. Have you seen it?
    Okay! Now I see it's you, LOL!!!! Is this an update?
     
  6. NTAPHSE
    Joined: Feb 5, 2006
    Posts: 1,029

    NTAPHSE
    Member

    I bagged and notched the frame in my garage, which was so much easier without having the body in the way. We threw the front clip on and my buddy checked the "lean".

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  7. old beet
    Joined: Sep 25, 2002
    Posts: 5,752

    old beet
    Member

    Keep comin with the pics, really dig what ya done so far!!!!
     
  8. NTAPHSE
    Joined: Feb 5, 2006
    Posts: 1,029

    NTAPHSE
    Member

    Not so much an update as a blast from the past. I want to do a full build-up thread to post updates on rather than randomly posting 'look what I did' threads.
     
  9. Bad Bob
    Joined: Jan 25, 2006
    Posts: 23,771

    Bad Bob
    Member
    from O.C. Baby

    I've been waiting to see that car again for a while!!!!
     
  10. NTAPHSE
    Joined: Feb 5, 2006
    Posts: 1,029

    NTAPHSE
    Member

    Geez these pics are all different sizes. Sorry bout that.
     
  11. NTAPHSE
    Joined: Feb 5, 2006
    Posts: 1,029

    NTAPHSE
    Member

    This is when things started getting exciting. Up until now I had worked on this project in two parts - body and frame. Although I had photoshopped the car before I started, it was tough to see the end result from inside a 2 car garage, and with the body sitting up so high on the stock frame. This moment was every bit as exciting as when I fired the motor for the first time.
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    At last I could see my vision in real life. I hate it when people come up to me and say "Well, it will look good once it's painted." That's BS, she started looking good as soon as the roof was cut and the frame hit the ground!

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    The Kaiser frame got sawzalled and scrapped.
     
  12. NTAPHSE
    Joined: Feb 5, 2006
    Posts: 1,029

    NTAPHSE
    Member

    I built some new body mounts and got the front end on. Then TONS of miscellaneous crap to do - mount radiator, power steering reservoir, run wiring, brake booster, pedals, steering column, seats, etc, etc...

    Built new rear wheelwells.

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    I'm embarassed at how long this stage took. It was hard to stay motivated at this point, but at least she looked like a complete car.

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  13. NTAPHSE
    Joined: Feb 5, 2006
    Posts: 1,029

    NTAPHSE
    Member

    Eventually I got everything mounted and hooked up enough to run. I put in some old Mustang buckets my neighbor gave me and some freebie sprint car lap belts from my friends at Rick Stewart's Racing.

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    The first drive around the block I got tons of metal dust in my eyes from the car sitting and being worked on. Incidentally all that metal dust got in the alternator and killed it too.

    I finished all the grinding on the body and threw on some primer.

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  14. NTAPHSE
    Joined: Feb 5, 2006
    Posts: 1,029

    NTAPHSE
    Member

    I hid the ECU in an ammo box inside the front fender and mounted to battery on the other side.

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  15. NTAPHSE
    Joined: Feb 5, 2006
    Posts: 1,029

    NTAPHSE
    Member

    At this point I just drove the car and enjoyed it for awhile, even though I knew it was nowhere close to being done.

    This pic made me proud of all my hard work. People were really drawn to the car when I took it out.

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    Chasing a Hudson or something on the freeway.

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  16. NTAPHSE
    Joined: Feb 5, 2006
    Posts: 1,029

    NTAPHSE
    Member

    I love car magazines, and when I saw HOT ROD was having a Homebuilt Heros contest I knew I had to enter. It was time to get my ass in gear and get the car in some condition to photograph. I really wanted to have it painted for the contest but the painter flaked and it didn't get done. Bare metal was going to have to do. I took a week vacation from work and got a ton of work done with no distractions.

    I molded in the drip rails and boxed the rear doors into the B pillars.

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    I also flipped my white walls out and shaved them down like we've all seen here on the HAMB.

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  17. NTAPHSE
    Joined: Feb 5, 2006
    Posts: 1,029

    NTAPHSE
    Member

    My buddy was getting into photography and took some killer shots for me.

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  18. johnnyfrank54
    Joined: Jun 5, 2005
    Posts: 54

    johnnyfrank54
    Member
    from las vegas

    keep them coming, can't help but love the kaisers....haven't looked at porn once tonight!!!!!!!!!!!!hahaha and the work is spot on man
     
  19. NTAPHSE
    Joined: Feb 5, 2006
    Posts: 1,029

    NTAPHSE
    Member

    I'm sure alot of you guys saw here on the HAMB that they picked my car for Best Kustom. Man was that exciting! There were a few AZ guys too which I thought was cool.

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  20. Tman
    Joined: Mar 2, 2001
    Posts: 29,871

    Tman
    Member

    Dig the flow, saw it in HRM, congrats on the ink.
     
  21. NTAPHSE
    Joined: Feb 5, 2006
    Posts: 1,029

    NTAPHSE
    Member

    I met a bunch of cool people after the magazine came out and was encouraged to pursue sponsorships to finish the car.

    A couple of the guys I met were Craig Pike of My Ride is Me and Brian Stupski of Problem Child Kustoms. Brian is going to be doing some renderings of the car soon so we can work out a paint scheme. I can't wait to sit down and pick his brain.

    I landed my first sponsorship with Borla, who sent me a stainless cat-back and some headers.

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    Last edited: Mar 6, 2009
  22. That's awesome!
    Congrats on the spread.
    I love those windshields.
     
  23. NTAPHSE
    Joined: Feb 5, 2006
    Posts: 1,029

    NTAPHSE
    Member

    For the interior I'm thinking about using some of the stock bamboo vinyl. Kaiser had some crazy stuff back in the day.

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    I'll probably use the 54-55 steering wheel and make a new ring that is fatter but smaller overall diameter so I don't feel like I'm driving a school bus.

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    I would also like to run four buckets with a full-length console. Something like these Kirkey's if they weren't $500 a pop.

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    I might hit up Mastercraft because I have helped in their pit in Baja, maybe that's worth a seat sponsorship. They have some lowback Rhino seats that could work.
     
  24. NTAPHSE
    Joined: Feb 5, 2006
    Posts: 1,029

    NTAPHSE
    Member

    I don't have much to take pics of right now because everything I've been doing has been mechanical. I built new gas tank straps, installed a charcoal canister, and now I'm working on installing the headers and rerunning a bunch of wiring and plumbing. I should be frenching in the license plate and doing some sheetmetal work around the grille next.
     
  25. Shifty Shifterton
    Joined: Oct 1, 2006
    Posts: 4,972

    Shifty Shifterton
    Member

    Gawddam that car is bitchin. Drooled all over it in HR and somehow missed it on the HAMB prior to now. Glad you pulled the thread together in one package.

    Dunno if you're aware but they make no-glue vinyl flooring that looks a lot like the stock bamboo plastic in that car, texture and all. I saw a sample in Menards recently (which they don't have in AZ) but one of your local flooring or home improvement stores will have it. Might be an economical way to finish the trunk or something.

    good luck
     
  26. Orn
    Joined: Jul 17, 2005
    Posts: 913

    Orn
    Member

    Impressive work there! Keep it up :cool:
     
  27. I love the look. That was a lot of work, but it sure was worth it. That is a cool looking custom.
     
  28. Bent
    Joined: Aug 30, 2007
    Posts: 191

    Bent
    Member
    from Canada

    Killer ride, keep up the great work! Can't wait to see it finished.
     
  29. NTAPHSE
    Joined: Feb 5, 2006
    Posts: 1,029

    NTAPHSE
    Member


    Thanks Shifty I'll look into that. Might work well for flat surfaces like door panels and the trunk like you said. I guess SMS has the original rollers and is repopping the bamboo vinyl too but I haven't pursued that yet.
     
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2010

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