Rough Drafts & Lessons Learned

Rough Drafts & Lessons Learned


A chain reaction occurred that started with me seeing a ’34 coupe in Europe and ended with me reading a stack of books by Batchelor, Montgomery, and Southard. My “personal style” with everything in life has always been more of a subdued and purposeful one. With all of this in mind, you would think that I would naturally gravitate towards a traditional hot rod as my first attempt to get into this world we have.

I guess that early mis-decision was my first mistake. A shoebox Ford showed up in the local classifieds featuring a 350/350 and an original 50’s era tuck-n-roll interior. I took the seller $1500 and drove the car home thinking I really had something. I didn’t know enough to know that what I had bought was more appropriate fodder for a customizer, but would learn that after many other lessons.

The most dramatic and dismal of those lessons coming after an attempted chop. I can remember ripping the headliner out of the car excitedly as I envisioned the perfectly proportioned profile. The cutting went well soon afterwards and even my “mock up” looked the part when I rested the lightened top back on the body. It was all down hill from there.

I had never really welded in my life and had no idea what I was doing. Within a couple of hours I had absolutely ruined the car by warping every panel that my little Sears welder touched. Three weeks later, I sold it to a guy in Arkansas that didn’t know any better.

I had all but forgotten about my experiences with that car until I ran into the above image while cleaning up some old files. All that dreaming… All that work… All that disappointment… It’s a wonder that I kept dreaming and scheming, but I’m glad I didn’t know then what I know now. Some lessons are worth learning the hard way.

So, what did I learn?

1. Hot rods aren’t easy and none of us would be doing what we do if we didn’t have something miswired within.

2. Patience.

3. Thought and foresight before action.

What did you learn with your first screw up?

Side Bar: The tortured shoebox ended up in the capable hands of Frank Palmer. He was able to salvage the car and create a pretty slick custom out of it. Amazingly, it showed up at the Hot Rod Cinematic last year almost 15 years after suffering through my butchering.

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