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Customs Full/radical custom builders ... what comes first, the vision or the base car or a pile of p parts ?

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by ken bogren, Aug 13, 2021.

  1. ken bogren
    Joined: Jul 6, 2010
    Posts: 939

    ken bogren

    I'm fond of customs, especially full or radical versions. I usually look at the cars and stand there trying to figure out what went on the the mind of the builder that caused them to build the car, what was their vision, while at the same time wishing I had that kind of imagination, not to mention skill.

    I curious about the process that builders of full or radical customs go through when they set out to build a car. What comes first, vision or the base car. or the parts?
  2. dana barlow
    Joined: May 30, 2006
    Posts: 4,560

    dana barlow
    from Miami Fla.
    1. Y-blocks

    I'm pretty sure it's about who you are.
    For myself,being low $ with bigger dreams,an do art,I drew a lot of farout stuff.
    But I was already playing with my open roadster 28A an having prob's with weather in Miami called wet sunshine. Had to have something with top an roll up windows,turn out nothing like I wanted was in the piggy bank. So got a old Henry J,yup it was water proof!
    But the styling bugged me!
    Came across a 55 Thunderbird folding top for free,it started some drawings an not long after the "J" became a full custom in 1960. Even made it into Car Craft,Jan 1963.
    I bet no two custom storys are a-like ! If done at home.
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2021
    Driver50x and Rand Man like this.
  3. lostone
    Joined: Oct 13, 2013
    Posts: 1,866

    from kansas

    It depends.....

    If your rich design comes first, you design the car THEN buy parts to fit that vision...

    If your poor THEN you build according to your stock pile or budget designing as you go....

    Of course this is just my version
    blowby and dana barlow like this.
  4. At some point you really need to have a clear vision of the design IMO. Whether that's before or after you get the car and/or parts is immaterial.

  5. Rusty O'Toole
    Joined: Sep 17, 2006
    Posts: 9,608

    Rusty O'Toole

    Watch some of Bad Chad's videos, he often explains the concept and development process behind his cars.
    - His wife wanted a Bugatti Atlantic coupe so he went out in the back yard and found the closest thing he had, a 34 Chev sedan body shell, and rebuilt it into a Bugatti with a Jaguar engine
    - A neighbor gave him an old Chrysler Windsor sedan. He doesn't like 4 door sedans so he cut the roof off and welded up the doors. Out in the back yard he had an early 70s GM coupe he saved because he liked the roof line, the roof went on the Chrysler, then he added the power train from a front wheel drive Cadillac and had the Green Goblin. Let him explain at the SEMA show
    If you want to see some old fashioned down and dirty custom building check out his youtube videos.
  6. Rickybop
    Joined: May 23, 2008
    Posts: 7,457

    from Michigan

    People will ask how a song comes to be. Which comes first, the lyrics or the melody?
    When it comes to creating art...
    Same answer. Depends. Depends on the person and circumstances.
    It can be the product of long and intense planning. Or it can happen almost by accident... from the gut... the soul.
  7. 40StudeDude
    Joined: Sep 19, 2002
    Posts: 9,467


    For me, it was the vision an artist I can see things (finished - in my mind) before they are done...and most times even started...then to preserve the vision, I like to draw it example - -door panels. IMG_9816.JPG
    Then take it to the see if he can match close ...and as an afterthought, instead of the purple pleats at the bottom, we decided to add stainless steel trim...

    The same goes for paint- I can see the finished product even before I start work...the illustration below will be the bucket seat and paint scheme...and as an added part, I actually drew the grille and Dagmars as I saw them in my mind... IMG_9825.JPG

    The Cadillac as it sits today: IMG_0452.JPG
    Paint is still a year or so away-lots of bodywork to do...but it's driveable and on the street...!!!

  8. ken bogren
    Joined: Jul 6, 2010
    Posts: 939

    ken bogren

    40StudeDude, thanks for describing your process, and the images illustrating it.
    40StudeDude likes this.
  9. anthony myrick
    Joined: Sep 4, 2009
    Posts: 8,982

    anthony myrick

    I can only speak for the one I’ve been a part of
    Step one. A crappy pile of junk from the scrapyard
    a drawing/vision
    some cutting, jack stands, wood blocks and some old wheels
    then actually trying to make it work
    started messing with this one around 3 years ago. Got put on the back burner. Then the virus crap shut us down. We are talking about messing with it soon.
    ken bogren likes this.
  10. michaelvz51
    Joined: May 24, 2011
    Posts: 739

    from So Cal
    1. HAMB Merc Club

    All Kustoms come from some type of vision. I wanted a 51’ Merc Sled and I had a vision but I also studied several books on Kustoms before I started. I also wanted to make sure it was period correct AND did not mix styles. You never put billet wheels on a Kustom for example so I figured I wanted to do this right the first time. My journey took 10 years to complete and much of that time was sourcing the parts to build my car-see my build thread for all the crazy ride details.
    Artists can sometimes see the car before it’s complete and I have a bit of that in me too but the car still morphed into what it is because fabrication circumstances dictated it, like cutting the roof off and building a Carson too that is also removable.
    I would say that you need to figure out what car you like to begin with and then go about dialing it in. I’m studying 39-40 cars now as I love their end look once Kustomized.
    The exception to all of this are people like Gene Winfield whom I’ve had many conversations with and VooDoo Larry as these guys can see beyond what most people can see.
    40StudeDude and ken bogren like this.
  11. ken bogren
    Joined: Jul 6, 2010
    Posts: 939

    ken bogren

    Thanks anthony myrick,
    anthony myrick likes this.
  12. fastcar1953
    Joined: Oct 23, 2009
    Posts: 2,706


    The car always came first for me. I envisioned every car I've owned being done. Never finished most of them.
    Hard to build from scrap . Vision after seeing what I have to work with.
    ken bogren likes this.
  13. chopolds
    Joined: Oct 22, 2001
    Posts: 5,994

    from howell, nj
    1. Kustom Painters

    Radical customs take a lot more design effort than mild/full ones. There are so many out there that are technically well done, but artistically a failure. This all comes down to the choice of parts to use, and how the mods are done. If youare just changing things to change them, more than likely, they won't look "natural" on the car. Well chosen parts, installed with a good idea how things flow, proportioning, and how they integrate with the rest of the modifications on the car, make a great radical custom.
    Just watch Bad Chad, and do the opposite, and you'll be OK (LOL!)
    Just Gary and ken bogren like this.
  14. Rand Man
    Joined: Aug 23, 2004
    Posts: 3,995

    Rand Man

    I do a lot of dream design, also have gathered parts. They don’t always come in the correct order.
    dana barlow likes this.
  15. ken bogren
    Joined: Jul 6, 2010
    Posts: 939

    ken bogren

    michaelvz51, cool car and build thread, thanks for posting

    chopolds; Yeah, some modifications just don't seem to "flow" with the overall style of the car.
  16. ken bogren
    Joined: Jul 6, 2010
    Posts: 939

    ken bogren

    I have watched some of Bad Chad stuff.
  17. in the sixties, we had junkyards full of old stuff. Nowadays, with very few well stocked yards, and eBay or Craigslist being the better source for parts, but limited in their breadth of selection, unless you have a really long timeframe for parts collection, parts selection/availablity can dictate the design.

    My 51 Ford has evolved into being a mild custom. I knew generally what I wanted, but eBay influenced the parts actually used. The triple tooth 54 Chevy grill was a chance eBay find, supplemented by a double tooth grill find. I was looking for a 54 Pontiac grill without luck, but found the 54 Chevy grill parts needed to make something traditional that I liked. The chance finding of a 52-54 Mercury hood on eBay triggered my thinking that it would be a perfect problem solver for the unwanted holes in my 51's hood to accommodate the air cleaners sticking up too high. The hood holes were a multi year problem caused by installation of an 8 deuce log manifold and helmet air cleaners on the 392 hemi. Trying to maintain a selected time period for a custom requires some flexibility in parts selection when building a 70 year old car. More radical customs usually feature more metal shaping work than period parts compared to a mild custom, so the process of buying a car, parts, and doing the design may be reordered a bit. However, having parts before doing the design makes a lot of sense nowadays.
  18. goldmountain
    Joined: Jun 12, 2016
    Posts: 3,181


    Reading Moriarty's post on Denny Heapy's Predator makes me think that this is a real good question. What did come first?
  19. anthony myrick
    Joined: Sep 4, 2009
    Posts: 8,982

    anthony myrick

    We have the benefit of history for inspiration.
    We’re limited by the availability of old iron.
    We’re building parts cars now further reducing parts availability.
    Check out the Kustomrana site. You’ll see lots of cars that evolved as styles and owners changed.
  20. Moriarity
    Joined: Apr 11, 2001
    Posts: 22,292

    Staff Member

    When I built the futurian I knew that I wanted it to be a similar size to a Roth car. I owned the Road Agent at the time so I built the chassis first close to the same wheelbase.
    37B3C4B1-43CC-4DA5-A748-E9C52F514042.jpeg 4A5ED51F-FBE2-466C-A130-140888E797A9.jpeg 6919020D-B32E-419C-B171-2BB3462C51F0.jpeg 2C8DDE6A-8FF5-4141-8504-97149B40F43B.jpeg

    Once I had the rolling frame I piled plaster and vermiculite newspaper spit wads on it and carved away everything That wasn’t cool looking. I can’t draw so I used the trial and error sculpting method before I covered it in fiberglass
    A485455D-4D0A-47E5-8DC3-8BB1EA186359.jpeg 896720AC-A52F-4B87-92C9-45FF949C6307.jpeg F23DA2ED-2719-414E-95C8-1141716EE66A.jpeg 24FB1AF0-368B-4957-BDAF-B5CA78034632.jpeg F9C49318-8651-4A74-9772-18C3F5BFC9A6.jpeg FEBBAAB4-805E-4634-824E-B0B506615342.jpeg

    I ground the rough glass, did the bodywork and paint. Made the mold to blow the bubbletop... all without a drawing. I did get help with the paint layout. Dennis McPhail come up and taped out the design for me

    D2338AD5-AD09-4673-B71A-52107D1CA6B1.jpeg 2FAC5156-5625-4A78-88CD-0CED5172018B.jpeg 4A5EA9D3-5FF5-47E8-BB35-CB2B60C55602.jpeg C3E90C35-2BFA-4E56-8D2D-3E19088C6AED.jpeg D0981E53-046C-4914-9EE2-8348BA41D0C1.jpeg F451D930-E09D-4D8E-9B25-B258F3ABA7DD.jpeg
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2021
  21. anthony myrick
    Joined: Sep 4, 2009
    Posts: 8,982

    anthony myrick

    Great timing on the chassis pics.
    We got a new welding instructor at school. Builds chassis.:):):):)
    I showed him pics of the pile of caddy parts we were playing with. His wheels started spinning.
    A truss style chassis is what I originally thought would work.
    Now I have a visual to show him.
    ya did good
    TrailerTrashToo and Moriarity like this.
  22. anthony myrick
    Joined: Sep 4, 2009
    Posts: 8,982

    anthony myrick

  23. blowby
    Joined: Dec 27, 2012
    Posts: 8,061

    from Nicasio Ca

    Very Impressive Moriarity. Skill and determination at work.
    Moriarity and rod1 like this.
  24. ken bogren
    Joined: Jul 6, 2010
    Posts: 939

    ken bogren

    Moriarity; When did you first envision the Futurian as a bubble top car? I ask because the one photo shows a small windshield.
  25. Moriarity
    Joined: Apr 11, 2001
    Posts: 22,292

    Staff Member

    from the very beginning., I didn't have the bubble yet so the windshield propped up there was just an effort to make it look more like a car...
    ken bogren and olscrounger like this.
  26. ken bogren
    Joined: Jul 6, 2010
    Posts: 939

    ken bogren

    Thanks Mark
    Moriarity likes this.

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