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History Fail or succes.Your first build story.

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by iwanaflattie, Dec 10, 2011.

  1. I did a search and found nothing.
    If improper,please delete or report it to get it deleted.

    Hey Hamb, I'm in a stage where a lot of us have been once or twice.
    I need inspiration.
    What a better place than the Hamb and what better stories that the guys who do the best builds out there.

    I am a first time builder.This is the first time I've taken a frame a shell and tried to make a cool ride that is safe,reliable and cool.
    I bet there is a few guys/gals out there,like me, who are in this stage too.
    I am very confident that I can fuck it up in a heartbeat,but If I work hard enough and bug the right people I will finish what i've started.
    I have no friends who are builders,I live far from part stores and shops but anything can be done.

    I want to hear your first build,
    was it a success?
    was it a failure?
    Did you have help?
    Was it a one man operation?
    Did the project overwhelm you and you sold it?
    did it turn your attention lets say from building engines to pinstripe,photograph etc???

    Tell us maybe your story will inspire a first time builder that wants to quit or thinks he/she cant do it.
    Inspire the new generation to build a safe,traditional if not period correct ride,and remember Pictures make a read more enjoyable.
  2. My 1st build on my own. Not scratch built but a big job for a kid. (sorry no pics)
    1971, I was 16 years old. My buddy helped but knew less than I did.

    I'd read in Hot Rod Magazine about putting a SBF V8 in a 61-67 Econoline Van. Found an ex-laundry service van for $250. Drove it home on Thursday after a stop at the car wash. Had the 6cyl engine ready to pull Friday night.

    Saturday morning rented a cherry picker, welder, borrowed a torch, then picked up a junkyard Mustang 302 and a 4 speed for $80 (already pulled). By late Sunday night I had the V8 and 4sp installed cuz the rental stuff had to go back Monday morning.

    Took me another 3 weeks during summer vacation to get it driving. Had to rent the welder again and find or make a few parts. Used the original 3sp shift column with the 4sp trans for a 4sp on the column. Ran a PTO cable to engage reverse. Drove it about a week before it spit out my homemade driveshaft when hitting 2nd gear. Had another driveshaft made, put some Cragars on it. Sold the van a few months later for $1500.
  3. squirrel
    Joined: Sep 23, 2004
    Posts: 47,399


    similar deal...I was 17, swapped a 396 into our old truck in two days. Got it running the second day. Still have the truck 32 years later.

    The first one I really "built" was a 39 chevy street rod, over 20 years ago, that one took two years. body off frame, built the motor, transmission, rearend, did the bodywork, installed the interior, etc. I guess it was pretty much a traditional build as far as using junkyard parts rather than buying everything like a lot of guys do now.

    Start somewhere, keep working on it till it's done.
  4. 16 I shoved a 440 w/727 in a 35 Plymouth coupe... stock brakes failed and the frame was rusted thru in a couple of spots so I sold it to someone that needed the engine!
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2011

  5. JMel
    Joined: Jun 18, 2011
    Posts: 199


    My first build was last year. Completely a rookie at this at 33 years old. I married into a street rod family. I've always wanted to join in, but never had the knowledge, money, or time.

    My first build started January 2010. Father-in-law found and gave me a steel '27 Roadster body for Christmas. Was told that if I could have it ready by the following October that year, they would pay for our hotel at Cruisin' the Coast. With a clear goal in mind, and a significant bonus from work - I hit it rather hard. Started January, and was driving it by the end of August - ground up build. I will not lie - i relied heavily on my father-in-law holding my hand through the ordeal. He'd let me make mistakes, sit back and laugh at me, then when he couldn't stand it anymore, he'd step in - tell me what I'm doing wrong or why i'm being a retard, and would push me in the right direction.

    I learned a lot, and am still learning. But it was worth it. Got great bonding time in with my father-in-law. My clean and scar-free hands are now full of scars and callus. Arms are littered burns from welds. And my mind is sharper after learning that fire makes metal hot....took more than a few lessons to finally learn that.

    Don't feel I'm ready to build a car on my own yet. But continue to tinker with the '27, and recently purchased a '51 Chevy off the Hamb for the wife and have a new toy to play on and learn. Just put my first heater in a car today for the '51 as my wife was getting a bit cold driving it in the winter. Once I get the '27 and '51 where i want them, and let bank account recover after 2 new cars in 2 years. I want to build another one ground up again. Itching for a model a...just don't know if i can fit in it after doing what i want to do to it. Hopefully I have retained a little of what I've learned.
  6. gotit
    Joined: Aug 27, 2009
    Posts: 360


    Failure for sure. In 2000 I just turned 16 and I bought a 54 chevy. I have loves these cars for a long time. I borrowed my grandfathers truck and got it home. I had no clue hot to do body work and I abused body filler like crazy. I jumped in deeper than I should have but I like I learned from that disaster.

    I have now restored a model a for my mom and have done some tweaking on other vehicles.

    I learned not to tear into something unless it has to be torn into. I got a sweet sbcglobal 400 from a friend that had extremely low milage and I tore it apart like a fool. Now I have way too many projects and 1200I sq ft of parts and cars.
  7. JMel that's the kind of story I was looking for.Im 26 so that gives me hope.I didnt start too late I guess.
    The body work and fabrication doesn't scare me,it's the wiring and hooking up the transmission cables,hoses,links and pedals that do.

    Lowkat,squirrel and wingnutz: I guess we all start with small to mild projects like an engine swap, what was your ground up,scratch build tho???
  8. squirrel
    Joined: Sep 23, 2004
    Posts: 47,399


    I've never built anything from scratch, I always started with a car or truck, and built that. I realized a long time ago that I don't have the creative ability of the guys who worked in detroit long ago, designing cars....
  9. My first was a 34 5W that I bought as a Body and Frame. Body was complete and painted and presented as an "Abandoned Project". Basically a roller that looked like a complete car in the pics. After exchanging a few pics thru the mail, I drove 3 states away to go see it. Well, was an emotional purchase in the dead of winter. It was cold and in my haste, I didnt see many of the flaws in the half ass partial construction. Took 10 times the effort and cost to get it on the road. I finished it and sold it at a loss.

    Like a bad stock or mutual fund, I should have cut my losses when I had the chance.
    Joined: Feb 5, 2006
    Posts: 1,029


    Check out my build. I was 22 when I started and am 29 now and just finished it. It was a daunting task but you have to tell yourself that you can figure this out and persevere.
  11. hillbillyhellcat
    Joined: Aug 26, 2002
    Posts: 595


    I bought a 1965 Ford Falcon 2 door sedan when I was 19. The guy trailered it here with a 1966 sport coupe, both from Oregon. It was solid but the body was battered.

    At the time my brother was 14. The intentions were for us to fix it up for his first car. We gutted the whole car, stripped it to the metal, had it send out and repainted, replaced every seal, bought a Ford Granada for parts and make the car 5 lug with disc brakes and a metric rear end, put in the 250 six with a header, did a custom interior. The body and paint were horrible but it did look and sound pretty cool. Later we bought a 1964 Ranchero and used the SBF for it so it was out first top end rebuild.

    We learned a ton on that car and did a lot of stupid things on it. While he was in college someone hit me in it. I bought a quarter for it from Texas and had someone cut the old quarter off and let it sit in his yard with the windows down for six months. It still ran and drove but was pretty trashed. We decided to sell it at a loss on eBay. It went to somewhere in the Lehigh Valley in PA. I wonder where it is now?

    Attached Files:

  12. In 1984, at 16, I dove right in with both feet...
    !977 Chevy LUV pickup into which I installed...wait for it...a 65 Riviera 401 Nailhead.

    It didn't fit.

    Thinking it would be easier to start from scratch with the firewall and floor mods, i torched out everything from the base of the windshield back to the rear of the floor and out to the cab mounts. Then we used a 4X4 through the windows and a rope up to dad's old chain fall to lift it back up on the frame. When the windshield exploded in my face, I knew I had a problem...

    Unquestionable FAIL...

    I kept the narrowed frame for a another 10 years, and had the narrowed Currie 9" until 2005, when I sold it in my chrome-moly chassis 260Z drag car.

    A lot of good hard knocks lessons learned on that LUV, and it gave me my first appetite for doing oddball stuff; which is what I've specialized in since.
  13. OahuEli
    Joined: Dec 27, 2008
    Posts: 5,046

    from Hawaii

    I've worked on cars since I was a kid and modified quite a few, (muscle cars etc) but have only done one "ground up" build to date. The '56 F100 that is my avatar was originally an F250 and when I got it, had a stuck 292, no brakes, crappy wiring. I got another 292 and rebuilt it, went thru the brakes and got the truck on the road, but a broken windshield (thanks to ex girlfriend) and a wiring harness fire caused the truck to become yard art for 11 years.
    Got back on it in '92, stripped the truck down to a bare frame, installed reversed eye springs and 5 lug hubs in the front, removed the overload springs in the back and swapped in a 9 inch in place of the Dana , swapped cabs from a donor truck, changed transmissions to a different three speed, installed headers and glass packs, completely rewired and installed another windshield. Got it on the road, sold my Mustang and the F-100 was my daily driver from then on.
    In the spring of '96 I yanked the 292 and dropped in a 1970 429 that I'd rebuilt, along with a toploader 4 speed. Changed the cab again and put a fiberglass front clip on it, then I drove it to California from Virginia. Drove it another three years as a dd, including a move from California to Florida. Had to sell it to deal with family matters, (married by then.) I sure do miss that truck and if I ever get my hands on another '56 you can bet your ass I'll build it like the first one. There are a few pictures of it in an album on here.
    Sometimes its tough to persevere when life gets in the way, but if you want it bad enough you'll succeed. I recently had to sell a '51 F1 project that was real close to road ready, again due to family matters, and that sucked but I've already got my mind going on what I'll do next when I can. I just happen to have another 429 on the engine stand and would love to find an old Econoline pickup. No matter what, I'll build something again. Guess this hotrod stuff is a terminal disease. :D
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2011
  14. Don't feel bad I don't have any friends that build cars either.

    Well that isn't true but maybe one of them will see this and get mad enough about it to come by here to whup me. I haven't had an company for awhile. :D:D:D

    My first chassis up was not actually my car. I had a friend that every one including his mom called Helms. I don't remember his first name.

    Anyway one night late when I was still in high school he shows up at my place with this bucket T with a big Chrysler wedge between the frame rails. No exhaust except the manifolds, as I found out on my ride up the street no brakes except the e brake either. I lived on the edge of town but I still had neighbors who were bothered to say the least.

    My mom came out and pulled the coil wire and told helms he was spending the night.

    Next morning in the light of day I discover that helms had the engine setting on 4x4s and was chained down, among other atrocities. I had the key to the AG shop and as long as I was out before the janitors got to the school in the morning I could use the shop. It took Helms and I over a month of late nights in the Ag Shop to get this thing safe to drive. We drove it to the Portland car show that year in the rain.

    By the show the next year we had a proper interior and paint etc. it was entered and took best paint as well as best T.

    Last edited: Dec 12, 2011
  15. wsdad
    Joined: Dec 31, 2005
    Posts: 1,256


    I bought an old "canned ham" Shasta camper with the little wings at the top. I didn't check it out as closely as I should have. I figured it would be an easy, enjoyable restoration project to fix whatever I might find. Plus, I loved the style and oldness of it.

    Once I got it home and began tearing into it to repair all of its problems, I found it was going to take a lot more money and time than I was willing to give it. It also dawned on me that once I did get everything working, everything else was still old and worn out - hinges, dry-rotted wood, roof, etc.

    Then I accidently wrecked it. It rolled on its side and the top separated from the frame. (I shut down the highway and made the traffic news!) Even though I lost my camper, I couldn't help but feel relieved that it was over.

    I did straighten the hitch back out and made a nifty little utility trailer out of the remains.

    Sorry, that's not a hot rod ground-up build story but Airborne34's remarks made me think about it.

    I guess what I'm trying to say is, "Look the project over carefully and objectively - as if you were giving someone else an estimate. Write down everything that's wrong with it and how much money and time it will take to do what you want to do to it. Add it all up. Multiply the money by 1.5 and the time by 3."

    It'll probably still be worth it, but at least you'll be going into it with your eyes open.

    My T-bucket build has been put on the back burner for yet another year because we have some other more important family goals to work toward and achieve. Several of the guys on here have mentioned family matters getting in the way of their hot rods. It would be easy to think we resent them. However, if you think about it, they and I are fortunate to have someone we love more than hot rods. "Your mileage may vary depending on driving conditions and habits."

    Sometimes it feels like the T-bucket will never come together, but then again, it's nice to have the project in the back ground to tinker with when I do find bits of time or money. I could take a picture of the pile of parts but it probably wouldn't be very interesting right now.
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2011
  16. Well I am inept on car matters but I read and read and I was able to figure out some stuff.
    I had a car with saggy leaf springs and I was able to add some.
    That taught me about pinion angle and how annoying the grinding and shaking is.
    After that I was able help work on my brothers j@@p that had saggy springs.
    Then I got my F1.It was a running but not a driving project.When I bought it the axle was not attached to the frame neither was the fenders or bed.
    I had the truck towed to my place.
    I figured out the suspension(I had to find springs and perches)
    After I got it figured out I had my brother Weld everything that needed welding.
    I Learned so much with that truck that I know every little crevice on it.

    My COE was what got me to look into flatheads and f1s,it was a cab sitting on a friends property out in the desert,it had the front clip but NO frame,no engine,no hood.

    After 7 years of bugging the his dad I got call from him saying If I still wanted it.
    I dragged home,got a free donor truck and I asked a lot of questions here on the HAMB.
    After working roughly 2 months I am ready to drop the engine transmission and get the driveshaft made.
    I am waiting for buddy to rebuild the engine.
    The rest is going to be the hardest part.
  17. 52lomofo
    Joined: Jan 29, 2005
    Posts: 669


    my first will be this winter doing a 52 mercury pickup on a s10 frame been collecting parts since 90 a divorce now remarried and a brand new garage cant wait my youngest wants in for her prom in 2 years have all the parts s10 4x4 rear chevy tilt with 54 bel-air wheel stock seat also have a 52 ford car dash havent decided if im going to use it yet stock 305 and auto also have s10 5 speed too
  18. When I was 15 I tore a 53 Plymouth Belvedere hardtop ALL THE WAY down....didn't have a clue what I was doing. My dad had advised me to leave the car together and simply drop a SBC in it. But no....I wanted to tear the thing down.

    It sat in a million pieces until I sold it to a high school friend who hauled the carcass to his house where it sat for years until he sold it too. I'd love to know where it is....53 Plymouth hardtops are fairly rare.

    It would be 15 years before I tackled another project....a 25 T roadster....which turned out great.

    And then about 5 years ago, I tore my 54 Ford apart....ALL THE WAY down. It's been fun because I told myself right away that it would take a long time to finish it. I'm about a month away from it's first maiden run under its own power.
  19. Heo2
    Joined: Aug 9, 2011
    Posts: 661


    My first build around 1970 (gues i was about 6-7 years) was made from
    a salmoncrate some 2X4 2 wheelbarrow wheels 2 lawnmover wheels
    (big and littles indeed) Dad welded a front axle for it. But me
    and a friend did the rest.We painted it barndoor green with
    stripes in sauna furnance silver. It was a total succes
    we later added a rear wing and light from a Volvo Amazon
  20. ironandsteele
    Joined: Apr 25, 2006
    Posts: 5,308


    I failed at my first couple "builds" I don't know what it is about being a teenager that makes you think taking a perfectly good car that just needs a weekend of tinkering to drive, and stripping it down to the frame is a good idea. I think I did that twice before my dad said I couldn't bring anything else home if I was gonna do it that way.
  21. Ha, I think I have actually failed at every build I've ever started. I'll focus on one part...the engine, or frame/suspention, body etc...but once I get that one part where I want it, i've lost motivation to move onto the next major part. In the end I end up selling and picking up a new project to start the cycle over again. If I could have them all back now to combine the "finished" portions into one car I would be years ahead of the game.
  22. gasser300
    Joined: May 25, 2010
    Posts: 486

    from Ft Worth

    I was like you. No clue what I was up against.

    Make a check list. Focus on one thing at a time. Stay focused on that one thing and it will all come together. Wiring is fun with todays modern harnesses. When you are at that stage you will have it whipped.

  23. Wow encouraging words for sure.
    When I started the COE I read about all the problems that you run with the steering.
    Well one day I started messing with the steering and couldn't believe how easy it was.
    It was a lucky shot.
    I guess that was one of the hardest things to figure out.
    Now if I could only get my hands on that rebuilt engine to start wrapping everything up...
  24. I actually have had quite a few that you could call failed projects. Mostly got started on them and someone offered me enough cash that I couldn't keep working on them.

    One that comes to mind is a Duece roadster that we had once. Now I am not especially fond of dueces or roadsters but the Ol' Man had one when I was a kid and we were in real cheap. I had the axle dropped by an old timer and after jill flirting the rear spring a bit it was setting real well on an Old Olds rear than came with it. I had a hot 283 I was going to bolt in when this fella comes by the house and wants to by the duece. He says ys wanna sell that Deuce? I said no that I was going to finish it and drive it. he says you can still finish it. so I am confused. he said I have seen your cars, some are pretty rough but I like the way you build 'em.

    Long story short he wants to buy the deuce for money that I thought was insane and I can build it my way only with his money. He bought himself a roadster right there and I built it the way I would if I had the cash to make it real nice. I didn't make much more than the sale of it originally but I had a good time with it and that's enough for me.

    I bought the wife a big assed merc ('64 Turnpike Cruiser) that we had as much fun in as you can possibly have. Even had enough to put chrome reverse and good tires on it.

    Life is good.

    Anyway I had lots of projects that got sold before I finished them.
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2011
  25. wearymicrobe
    Joined: Jul 27, 2007
    Posts: 262

    from San Diego

    I was 14 when I was working over the summer and weekends washing 18 wheeler's and doing the crap work around the shop. Sweeping, loading grease guns, helping with cab pulls.

    Boss at the time had a major collection of Ferrari's and little triumphs that he would track. He gave me a TR3 instead of paying me that week. He had taken that car as collateral for some weird shipping job over the years. The shop guys had given it the quick once over and could not get it to start. So full of piss and vinegar that dragged it back to my parents house and I completely disassembled the entire front end and started to hammer away.

    Found a electrical short and crap in the fuel lines and tons of other little stuff to fix. Got it running pretty good with some help from Ray, now deceased, down the street. Boss actually came over to the house and bought it back from me for more then would make that summer.

    I thought that I had won the lottery. Used the cash to buy a super beetle from a local breaker yard and have not looked back. Then sold that for a 65 Mustang, then up the food chain. No major failures yet but won and lost on a lot of cars in terms of cash. Plus I now know when to walk from a project or say that I cannot do something. Took me a long time to get to that stage.
  26. That was my first ground up... with sparse tools, no welder, no money and minimal experience I managed to tie up my Dad's garage for several months gluing this thing together!

    My first successful build came a couple of years later and finally looked like this... from this pile of "X" show car sitting in a barn!

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Dec 12, 2011
  27. cederholm
    Joined: May 6, 2006
    Posts: 1,621


    I've messed with cars since I was a teen in the 80's mostly to keep them running and to get to work. Hot Rods have always been a dream. In my mid thirties, married with a small house/garage I picked up an frozen engined OT MGB to retore. Mostly cause they are cheap, fun to drive and parts are easy to come by. Plus I had one when I was a kid and my wife though thinks they are cute. This was my first full-on project, from bodywork, to motor rebuild, electrical to upholstery... and it came out pretty damn good! ...and I learned a TON!

    Now, I've move on to my '53 Chevy (my real passion are the HAMB approved cars). This is a mild custom with more fabrication and more of my personality. ...and I'm learning more as I go. Mind you I'm in my mid-40's now with no real car friends in a auto-unfriendly city - as compared to other parts of the country, but that doesn't bother me. ...the lack of space kinda does tho. This car can hold my whole family and is great to bomb around the city streets.

    I also picked up a 52 Flatty that sit's happily on a stand - one day I will build a coupe around it. But not today. This hobby is addictive.

    Take your time, learn from the amazing knowledge here on the HAMB and most of all, enjoy yourself.

    ~ Carl
  28. gdub
    Joined: Sep 16, 2004
    Posts: 202


    I got a 1952 F-1 a week after my 16th birthday in 1974. 6 cylinder 3 on the tree, rebuilt a junkyard flathead and had it in by late spring, It lasted about 6 months(water passage in one head was apparently blocked). Bought an early sixties ford car with a 352/fordomatic combo for $100. Put it in the truck and found out the engine was locked up, had one piston rusted down. Replaced that and it ran like a top. Stripped the truck to baremetal my sr. year and got it out of the paint shop and put together right before I left for college. It was definitely an amateur build but I learned a huge amount and have been hooked on old trucks ever since.

    Attached Files:

  29. My first build was my first Old Ford. I bought this complete 34 cab about a month after I bought my first house when I was 21. It was 100.00, and I wanted to build it CHEAP as I was a new homeowner. I had worked on cars before, engine swaps and such, but never really welded, although a good friend of mine, who got me into these kinds of cars, was in the middle of building a nice Model A. He helped me a lot and I copied the way he built his frame. He was running a 390, so even the motor mounts were the same. I got an A frame (cheap) and decided to run a free 239 Y block and 60's three speed tranny. It took me 4 years to get it to this stage, I think I did everything on it 3 or 4 times :D I sold it because I think I realized being 6'5" I would not fit in a 34 pickup chopped 5" and chaneled 4"!! By then I had bought some other early cars and my interest changed.



  30. SUHRsc
    Joined: Sep 27, 2005
    Posts: 5,078


    This was my first model-A... bought when I was 20...
    I wanted a roadster.... and this is what came along... I didn't know the real differences... just excited to have an old car...
    first I chopped it... just for fun....
    then I started roadsterizing it
    I got frustrated as I was learning more and more about "real" hot rods...
    built and finished another car that was more"period correct"
    then back to the ol' sport coupe.... never actually finished it... Sold to Chuckspeed looking like this

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