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Art & Inspiration Building from Scratch

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Fender1325, Nov 11, 2015.

  1. Fender1325
    Joined: Aug 31, 2014
    Posts: 730


    Guys I've been kicking around the idea to build a car from scratch. Its far fetched, crazy, and I have little experience with metal shaping. The short of it is that I'm thinking about buying an old truck - 70's or 80's, and using the frame and running gear from it. Chevy likely. From there, remove the body, clean up and rebuild everything and start a body from complete scratch.

    I've been really inspired by the 39 cadillac being built on here. It would be something along those lines. I would build it as a permanent convertible.

    I'd be buying an english wheel, shrinker/stretcher, and a cheap metal brake. Likely from Harbor Freight. I already have a bead roller and MIG welder.

    I've watched Ron Covell on youtube making fenders from scratch. I understand the amount of time and what a large undertaking it is. I also realize I could potentially end up with something ugly, however I'm confident I could build something usable and would appreciate it nonetheless. I imagine Id build the firewall first and from there the doors and hood, followed by 4 fenders and the rear of the body. It doesn't need to be overly complex. It might end up even along the line of a late 20's race car. Long and large in scale but a roadster.

    So is this over the top crazy or what?
  2. 2racer
    Joined: Sep 1, 2011
    Posts: 960


  3. realsteel34
    Joined: Nov 7, 2015
    Posts: 34


    We`ll need pictures.
  4. mikhett
    Joined: Jan 22, 2005
    Posts: 1,406

    from jackson nj

    Don't let fear hold you back.
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  5. F&J
    Joined: Apr 5, 2007
    Posts: 13,217


    the thread will get deleted with talk of that frame.

    I'd remove that part ASAP
  6. Kinky6
    Joined: May 11, 2003
    Posts: 1,765


    Fender, I think you'll need the pictures - this is not to bash, I love the gumption for wanting to do something, BUT, a '70's pick-up frame is not going to be a really good chassis for a late 20's looking race car. The independant front suspension is definitely going to be a visual buzz-kill. So, do some research, get a good idea in your mind of what you want to end up with, and then dig in!

    Btw, the drive line from the truck, 6 or V8, auto or stick, could be a good starting place, so use what you can from it. Just about any non-Ford frame from around 1928 - 1935 or 6 could be a good start, although a slightly narrowed Chevy truck frame up through about '54 would work. Here is the sort of thing I'm seeing: Red Race Car.jpg

    You'll note that this has parallel springs on a straight axle up front. This is a big part of what defines an era, is that the parts resemble what was used then. Best of luck, Kinky6
    2racer likes this.
  7. Jalopy Joker
    Joined: Sep 3, 2006
    Posts: 24,626

    Jalopy Joker

    good challenge for you to take on. but, a '70s-'80s truck is not considered old here. maybe use stuff like motor, etc. to possibly help figure things out search online - - they have professional quality drawings for many parts.
  8. pitman
    Joined: May 14, 2006
    Posts: 4,865

    from Hampsha

    Joined: Dec 3, 2004
    Posts: 986


    Paul can build anything from nothing. LOL
  10. ... sounds easy enough, then what happens ?? :)
  11. statesblue
    Joined: Mar 5, 2008
    Posts: 245

    from Luzerne Pa

    We the Willing led by the Unknowing have been doing so much with so little for so long We now find it possible to do something with nothing.
    low-n-slo54 likes this.
  12. indyjps
    Joined: Feb 21, 2007
    Posts: 3,700


    Measure a car that will have similar proportions to what you want. Lay it out, find axles the correct width. Check out vehicles with straight front axles for a donor, could be old trucks even a shhh(jeep cherokee 2wd). Find a frame with approx wheel base you need, hopefully that frame has a donor floor pan that you can use as a base.

    Stuff like functional doors with frames, latches window mechanisms can be a bitch to build, consider donor doors from a period vehicle
  13. Fender1325
    Joined: Aug 31, 2014
    Posts: 730


    Thanks for the replies guys. The main styling Id be after is some of the custom 39 cadillacs Ive seen here. The wheel base and width is very similar to a suburban so I was thinking about that.

    If I ended up just having way too much trouble styling fenders, the open wheel race car style would be my fall back.

    I'll upload some pictures which have inspired me - some are guys right here on the forum! image.jpg image.jpg image.jpg image.jpg image.jpg image.jpg image.jpg
  14. chopolds
    Joined: Oct 22, 2001
    Posts: 5,700

    from howell, nj
    1. Kustom Painters

    Sorry I have to piss on your parade, but I don't think you have a clue to the mess you're getting into. Yeah, I've seen the car bodies some guys here have built "from scratch", usually very boxy looking T's or something that 'kinda' looks like a 32 roadster made from a refrigerator. Building a body that resembles a 39 Caddy takes tons of skill, both in sheet metal fab, welding, not to mention buck making, tubing (reinforcing the body), and a sense of design. Now add tons of patience, lots of room to work, tools, time and money. I've been building customs for over 35 years, and I'm at the point where I might try and attempt a job like this (after doing about 1/4 to 1/3 of a body on the Kopper Kart) I have lots of room, when customer cars aren't cluttering up the shop, a 'real' English wheel, a Tinman shaping hammer, plasma, MIG, TIG and gas welding equip. I'm still not sure I have what it takes.
    My advice to you, if anyone cares, is to start by just doing customizing, and rust repair. Walk before you try to run. Do lots of welding, make small parts, patches, panels and weld them onto a car and see how that turns out. It will take time to develop the skills to form, weld and finish sheet metal to the point where you can even do one entire finder or door, never mind a whole car!
    slack and fuzzybear like this.
  15. Fender1325
    Joined: Aug 31, 2014
    Posts: 730


    Oh yeah!? Well F you buddy!!! Hahah just kidding.

    I appreciate how big of an undertaking this is.

    Here's why I feel its possible:
    Im not rebuilding something where it has to match perfectly. Or hacking through nasty rust and tar, and previous crappy repairs. Id be starting with a clean slate, and my imagination. Whatever I say is what goes. If its good enough, if I want to modify the design right there on the spot, its all freedom.

    Thats what attracts me to it. Right now Im replacing very rotted floors in my 50 cadillac from scratch. It is a challenge for sure - especially considering the tar undercoating, and the terrible previous repairs. But, its coming out okay. Especially for first time metal shaping - I have a block of maple, a hammer, and a hand crank bead roller.

    Attached Files:

    slack and pitman like this.
  16. low-n-slo54
    Joined: Jul 25, 2009
    Posts: 1,920


    If you have the gumption to do it, do it! Won't know until you try. If you want to get a good frame, look at a '29-'31 Chevy frame. They have parallel springs front and rear and are fairly easy to switch over to a three springer.

    The worst that could happen is you run out of money, time, or interest. The best thing is you have something that is of your own creation. Wether it's ugly or stunning, it's yours and only yours.

    But also take Chopolds advice seriously. He speaks with wisdom. It is a huge undertaking. Draw it out. Have a plan but keep it fluid.
  17. weps
    Joined: Aug 1, 2008
    Posts: 520

    from auburn,IN

    And come up with a time line. I have been working on the Auburn for going on 3 years now. I was finally able to actually drive it a bit.
    I do not wish to dampen your enthusiasm,but that is a pretty big project.
  18. foolthrottle
    Joined: Oct 14, 2005
    Posts: 1,033


    The Bentley looks fun. a full size 80's GM perimeter frame from a BOPC can have the frame easily narrowed and then be the right dimensions for something like that. or give up don't try.
  19. Rusty O'Toole
    Joined: Sep 17, 2006
    Posts: 9,068

    Rusty O'Toole

    Chopolds has a point although I would not discourage you entirely. I would caution you not to step into the ring against the heavyweight champion for your first boxing match.

    Don't overmatch yourself. Start with something simple like a T bucket or roadster, the smaller the better. The pickup frame is not a bad idea but have a look at some imports. I have seen Suzuki Samurais in the junkyard that had a not bad frame, if you cut off the front and put on a simple front suspension.

    Or maybe you can find an old junk car from the fifties you can salvage the frame from. Like one that someone is scrapping.

    I have heard of complete chassis from forties cars going begging because the owner installed a new chassis and power train.

    Another idea is to buy an unfinished kit car. Have seen Auburns for as low as $4500.

    Or buy a fibreglass body.

    You will find making the body is less than half the job. Fitting seats, windows, wipers etc and wiring, just getting things to work will take more time than building the body. Another good reason to keep it simple. A roadster just has less things on it.

    If you are not a metal man consider fibreglass. Today the method seems to be to carve the body of urethane foam then cover it with fibreglass. This would be the quickest and cheapest way, and you would need very few tools compared to metal working.

    Build a scale model first and make all your mistakes on that. Maybe something the size of a pedal car.
    pitman likes this.
  20. scotts52
    Joined: Apr 7, 2008
    Posts: 2,040


    Some of the large cars from the 20s looked like they were built on truck chassis. Cadillac, Duesenberg...think big. Also the panels are less curvy so they may be easier to form. Definitely want to change that IFS to a straight axle to get the look right
  21. 39wagon
    Joined: Dec 13, 2008
    Posts: 29


    While it sounds quite ambitious, it is a real possibility. Something like a '20's car (either fabric covered or steel) is not too complicated if you use the coach-built method much like they did back then (sheetmetal over a wooden framework; sort of like house siding over a wall framework). The bucks/forms can be made from MDF which is cheap and readily available. I've done a couple of complete bodies using this method with success (1958 Morgan, 1934 MG J2). The only word of caution I might make, as has been stated by others is to have a plan before you start. Sketch out what you want it to look like (a whole lot easier to make changes on paper than in wood/steel). That way you can see if it all works together and proportionally pleasing. I would also suggest that you determine how the various components fit together and are supported. For example a door; you know how it looks from the outside but how does it fit into the door opening? What is the inner structure and how will it be constructed. How will it be suspended, will it clear the fenders when opened and will it provide adequate space for entry and egress? In other words, every unit consists of sub units. Get a rough idea of these sub units at the start and the chances of being overwhelmed midway through the process is a whole lot less. Practice making hammer forms; they're quick, easy and cheap and yield a pretty good finished product. I might also suggest using a ladder frame rather than a perimeter frame; you have a whole lot more freedom regarding dimensions of the body. Good luck and remember, this is supposed to be fun!!!
    55willys likes this.
  22. 55willys
    Joined: Dec 7, 2012
    Posts: 1,601


    Here is a car that my dad and I put together when I was in high school. We used a 65 Ford truck frame but modified it a lot. The body is a Renault and the nose is hand formed. I also have an old MGB that has been wrecked in the front that I will drop on some kind of frame someday and build a full size sports rod out of it. IMG_20151106_221454378.jpg
  23. CadMad
    Joined: Oct 20, 2012
    Posts: 546


    5552962269618775023.jpg I am flattered to see that my build has inspired you. My suggestion would be to look for a Cadillac of the vintage that you like. I started with a sedan but I had a very clear focus on where i was heading piror to the first cut.
    I have seen quite a few bargain Cads since I started mine. To rrplicate that hood and those fenders is something beyond only the most skilled metal guys. Even most coachbuilders of the day utilise& at least the whole cowl forward and rear fenders.
    There is aperfect candidate on ebay right now to be had under $5k. 1940 Sixty Special. I put in many many long hours in a well set up workshop. I was lucky. Now that I no longer have that space the pace has slowed dramatically. Still a long road to travel but sure beats whatever else i'd be doing. 1290402453238861247.jpg
    55willys likes this.
  24. 50dodge4x4
    Joined: Aug 7, 2004
    Posts: 3,535


    I think you need to pick a style of vehicle you want to build. You have to have a direction in which to go. You also pretty much have to plan out the whole car before you begin, or your going to be redoing a lot of stuff when you find out something you need doesn't fit where it needs to go.

    I think you probably should take a hard look at that 50 Caddy your working on, it will give you an idea how complex those car bodies and their underpinnings really are. Its a long way from making a few floor patches to making a fender, and your talking about 4 fenders, and a whole lot more.

    I believe the 20s style roadster would be a great first project. I'd start with a ladder frame (if your really building from scratch, you should build your own, then it will be the width and wheel base you want, the reason for planning first), with simple 4 leaf spring mounted axles. Then mount the drive train of your choice. After the drive train, you need to add the necessities, like steering, brakes, seating, and a fuel system. Then you will need a body structure to hold the sheet metal work you intend to form. Its really difficult to start with body panels and then try to build a car under it. You start from the bottom and build up, the sheet metal is the last step.

    The project your wanting to do is a huge undertaking. The first one needs to be as simple as possible. After the first experiment, successful or not, you will be better equipped to do a second, more complex, one.

    If you really want to build from scratch, I might suggest you do a search on member Plowboy, and wade through all the BS and follow his builds, from the first one, the Space Truck (on page 5), then his 2nd project (about page 3), the Lunar Lander, and maybe through his 3rd project the Atomic Punk. You might not like his build style, but at least you can get an idea of the progression becoming a scratch build master involves. Gene
  25. Fender1325
    Joined: Aug 31, 2014
    Posts: 730


    Drew out a rough sketch - nothing too surprising or inventive, but this is about the look Id like to acheive.

    Attached Files:

  26. trollst
    Joined: Jan 27, 2012
    Posts: 1,688


    I'd add, I been building a long time, I know that I'm a chassis guy who gets by doing body work, but it is not my best stuff. For me setting up and building chassis from scratch is easy, but forming panels is too much for my brain, if you think you can pull this off, charge into it, all you can do is wreck a bunch of metal. I didn't understand things I now know, even the finest coachbuilders started from scratch. I got a friend who can't turn a nut and a bolt together, but he can play a piano that will blow you away, something I'll never do. Try, see where it takes you.
  27. Fender1325
    Joined: Aug 31, 2014
    Posts: 730


    Wife colored it in. :)

    Attached Files:

  28. Kinky6
    Joined: May 11, 2003
    Posts: 1,765


    Fender, the only other thing I can add to the style debate is to keep in mind that you have suggested two alternate body styles to build, one a swoopy, pontoon fendered late 30's deco number, and the other a late twenties sports special like a Bentley, with the idea that if the deco number was too big of a challenge, you could leave off the fenders and go with the sporty car.
    I think that the body styles are too different to make the older style a fall-back position from the newer car. While I like the swoopy, modified Cad/Buick/Packard sort of thing, I think as a building exercise you will have a better chance of getting a finished project by going with the sports special, then setting aside a few years to tackle the more complex build. Either way, Good Luck! K6

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