Register now to get rid of these ads!

Building a "special"

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Gromit, Jul 9, 2012.

  1. Gromit
    Joined: Oct 13, 2011
    Posts: 726

    Gromit
    Member

    I've wanted to do this for a long time. Take a frame or chassis and build a car on it. I have no delussions about my skills as a metal crafter, I just thought it would be fun. I have access to a small truck chassis, some interesting vintage engines and drivelines, so that will be the starting place. I may have a 30's vintage cowl as well. As for the rest...

    Has anyone built one?
     
  2. Don's Hot Rods
    Joined: Oct 7, 2005
    Posts: 8,319

    Don's Hot Rods
    Member
    from florida

    Doing what you are talking about doing is probably as traditional as hot rods themselves. Years ago almost every issue of Mechanics Illustrated, Popular Mechanics, etc all had articles and pictures of cars guys were building or had finished building on some donor chassis. I think it was Mechanics Illustrated that gave a Golden Hammer Award each month to some home built project and lots of times it was a car someone hand built from scratch.

    The most common designs were sportscars because lots of Soldiers were returning from overseas and saw how cool the little 2 seat sports cars were over there and wanted something like that for their own. Lots of them were built from the first fiberglass bodies (which were mostly HORRIBLE quality) but most were made from a couple of fenders from one car, a cut down body from another, etc.

    One that I always loved was a cut down Buick that I think a guy named Durso built into a swoopy sports car. One of those "someday I am going to recreate it" cars that we all have in our heads.

    Don
     
  3. plym_46
    Joined: Sep 8, 2005
    Posts: 3,950

    plym_46
    Member
    from central NY

    The most common of things of this type would be a speedster, engine and running gear, frame, seating for 2 gas tank, and maybe a couple of places to store stuff. Just the basics to go stop, have fun. Most were built on Model T or model A frames and powered by bangers but they have also been built on firetruck chassis.

    Take a look at the Great race website for some of this type of vehicle.
     
  4. Atwater Mike
    Joined: May 31, 2002
    Posts: 10,069

    Atwater Mike
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    I've been daydreaming about a street-driven 'special' since I was 10. It would have to be shaped like a Kurtis Midget, or 'Big Car'...(sprint)

    But along came the older guys in my California hometown with their home-brewed hot rods. That was 1952...so I got turned around, as hot rods were a simple way in.
    By 1955 I had a Model A Roadster on a '32 frame, with many more to follow.

    But the vision of a 'real racing car' returned in 1980, when friend Rich Davis offered me a 1956 CAE Sprint car, formerly flathead powered, then Chevy. Rich had to move the car, but I lacked the room at my shop, due to a lot of "customer storage", which wasn't planned that way. I had to pass...

    I still have the dream. Retired now, busy as can be, but have a nice reverse-Elliott front axle, some springs, a few frames...and some good 4-banger power, with side-draft carbs, it is sooo tempting!
     
    Register now to get rid of these ads!

  5. Flipper
    Joined: May 10, 2003
    Posts: 3,312

    Flipper
    Member
    from Kentucky

  6. Rusty O'Toole
    Joined: Sep 17, 2006
    Posts: 9,146

    Rusty O'Toole
    Member

    Yes lots of guys have done this. Some of them even got finished lol.

    Best advice, keep it simple. Make an open roadster (squeaks, rattles and wind noise don't matter). Don't even put doors on, just hop in over the side.

    You could do a search for the MI Sportster (turn your ugly 32 Ford into an uglier sports car) http://blog.hemmings.com/index.php/2010/05/18/build-this-100-mph-sports-car-for-under-500/

    This one was made from flat sheet metal, conduit tubing and angle iron.

    Another way is to use panels cut from old car sheet metal, like the Wild Hare

    http://www.jalopyjournal.com/forum/showthread.php?t=477337

    Yet another way is the Big Daddy Roth method of making a fibreglass body. You start by making a form using "giant spitwads" of newspaper soaked in plaster, smooth out with plaster mixed with Vermiculite, and finally cover the whole thing with fibreglass. Last step, break out the plaster mold from inside the body. Now you have a fibreglass shell that you can smooth out with Bondo and paint.

    Once again, don't over match yourself. Make it small and simple. If something works, wow what a genius. If it doesn't work, throw it away and start over. You may have to make the same part 2 or 3 times to get it right. So you see even a simple car can take a lot more work than you count on.
     
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2013
  7. Rusty O'Toole
    Joined: Sep 17, 2006
    Posts: 9,146

    Rusty O'Toole
    Member

    The small truck chassis is a good place to start. Some Japanese models even had torsion bar front suspension giving a clean look. The problem is they sit pretty high, not too bad of a problem if you want a 30s style highboy look.
     
  8. Gromit
    Joined: Oct 13, 2011
    Posts: 726

    Gromit
    Member

    Thanks for the input. I had open top in the back of mind for it.. in spite of living in the rain forest (maybe I'll just put a lot of drain holes in the floor) I have access to some Model A rails, but figured a small (like import sized) truck chassis would be simpler for a platform. I have a lead on an s-10 but also a pal who hauls off scrap metal and junk cars is looking for a decent frame for me. Should have one in the shop in the next month or so.

    Thanks for all the comments, links and ideas. yeah.. I might even finish one :)
     
  9. Gromit
    Joined: Oct 13, 2011
    Posts: 726

    Gromit
    Member

  10. tommy
    Joined: Mar 3, 2001
    Posts: 14,758

    tommy
    Member Emeritus

    I'd suggest going with box tubing. You can hack saw it, bevel the joints with a small grinder and tack it up and then have a professional welder finish it up. Lots of good information on making a a simple ladder frame. A hacked up P/U frame will always look like a hacked up P/U frame. You can't make a silk purse out of a sows ear. Don't start with a sows ear. JMHO
     
  11. Gromit
    Joined: Oct 13, 2011
    Posts: 726

    Gromit
    Member

    I shall call it the silken sow... lol!
     
  12. Rootie Kazoootie
    Joined: Nov 27, 2006
    Posts: 8,079

    Rootie Kazoootie
    Member
    from Colorado

  13. Ned Ludd
    Joined: May 15, 2009
    Posts: 4,004

    Ned Ludd
    Member

    Interestingly, John Haynes wrote the book that launched his publishing career as a guide to replicating the Austin Seven special he was building at the time.

    The traditional body style for home-built road-going sports specials is the two-seat open tourer, with or without vertical slab tank against the rear face. Think MG TC. That style of body is easily constructed out of aluminium sheet, plywood, or fabric over a timber frame. Racing specials tend to be more ambitious, with their more aerodynamic tails. Here's a typical Austin Seven special:
    [​IMG]

    I've been meaning to start a Specials thread here. I've been limited by the lack of an opportunity to put a proper amount of effort into it, lest the topicality fail to be apparent from the start.
     
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2012
  14. Ned Ludd
    Joined: May 15, 2009
    Posts: 4,004

    Ned Ludd
    Member

    Hmmm. Perhaps not, but thanks for bumping this thread. I did get around to doing a Specials thread: http://www.jalopyjournal.com/forum/showthread.php?t=720448

    Edit: this was a response to a first post, since deleted, from a new member, which had attached a photograph of a particularly ugly OT-truck-based utility/tourer/thing. My response was an attempt at being polite.
     
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2013
  15. Mr48chev
    Joined: Dec 28, 2007
    Posts: 26,860

    Mr48chev
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    I've been thinking of something on the line of a 'special" for the 1600 CC dohc engine that is in what was intended to be my daily but has too many issues not related to the engine. That engine runs like a bandit and if I can convert it to rear drive and end up with the same final drive ratio and a car weighing abut 1400 lbs or less I'd have a rocket on my hands. It may end up in a little T modified with a full hood though as that would allow me to use up a number of parts I have without spending a ton of money.
     
  16. There are project cars around if you look. The one's I'm familiar with are Kellison, Glasspar, Victress, La Dawri, Wildfire....some of these had "factory" frames, either modified Ford or Mameco 2"X3" box tube, but you'll find them on Austin Healey, Jaguar, or on homebuilt frames....whatever someone had acess to. Most will not be running, or even completed. Many were started and never finished. Some ran 40 years ago and are now sitting derelict. If you can find one with a decent frame and usable body, you're way ahead. Don't minimize the amount of work it'll be. Finished, you'll have something quite original and unique. Good luck!
     

    Attached Files:

Share This Page

Register now to get rid of these ads!

Archive

Copyright © 1995-2020 The Jalopy Journal: Steal our stuff, we'll kick your teeth in. Terms of Service. Privacy Policy.

Atomic Industry
Forum software by XenForo™ ©2010-2014 XenForo Ltd.