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Hot Rods How bad (or good?) of an idea is this?

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Mikko_, Oct 4, 2018.

  1. Mikko_
    Joined: Aug 3, 2018
    Posts: 361

    Mikko_
    Member
    from Sweden

    Since coming to the conclusion that I need a Model A early style hot rod in my future I've been tossing around the idea of getting a running chassis and go from there.

    With running I mean a frame with axles, wheels, engine, tranny, steering column etc.,
    basiclly everything except body, lights, electrical system and maybe some minor bits here and there.

    The idea here would be to restore the chassi and drivetrain to stock specs with a bit of altitude adjustment.
    After that start the hunt for a decent roadster or RPU body to put on the now restored chassi.

    So, is this idea a big no-no or a decent idea on the path to owning one of my dream cars?
    Input from more experienced guys on this subject then me is greatly appreciated.:)

    I'm fully aware of that this would be a project that would go on for a few years before being on the road and in the end probably cost more than buying a running complete car to start with.
    But a complete, running roofless Model A is WAY out of my budget and I'm not sure a Tudor is what I really want to spend my time and money on.
     
  2. Why would you adjust the altitude? Are you in Colorado?
     
    alanp561 likes this.
  3. sliceddeuce
    Joined: Aug 15, 2017
    Posts: 2,982

    sliceddeuce
    Member

    I see some still do not understand the difference between altitude and elevation. And the O.P`s idea isn`t a bad one.
     
  4. BJR
    Joined: Mar 11, 2005
    Posts: 6,986

    BJR
    Member

    Why not just buy a good running complete restored car to start with. Much cheaper then trying to build one, if you are going to stay mostly stock with it.
     

  5. 392
    Joined: Feb 27, 2007
    Posts: 1,206

    392
    Member

    ^ ditto.
     
    j3harleys likes this.
  6. Phil P
    Joined: Jan 1, 2018
    Posts: 350

    Phil P
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Not a bad idea and you would know better than us the costs of parts or cars over there. Also what's more important the destination or the journey.
     
  7. Petejoe
    Joined: Nov 27, 2002
    Posts: 10,952

    Petejoe
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from Zoar, Ohio

    You make it sound like you want an original A, by saying “taking a chassis and drivetrain and restore it”.
    If that’s the case, good running model A’s are a dime a dozen. It would be cheaper to find one.
    What do you describe as giving it an attitude?? Or is it Altitude??
     
    j3harleys likes this.
  8. alchemy
    Joined: Sep 27, 2002
    Posts: 16,990

    alchemy
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Title issues would be a concern.
     
    j3harleys likes this.
  9. Mikko_
    Joined: Aug 3, 2018
    Posts: 361

    Mikko_
    Member
    from Sweden

    As mentioned, buying a complete running roadster or RPU would mean that I would have to spend a lot of money at once, instead of spreading the costs over a longer time period.

    If money wasn't an issue, a complete car would definitely be the way to go.

    Idea was to put together like a stripped down, stock (except lowered chassi and later wire wheels) A to begin with, and do the engine hop ups later on.

    I'm no expert at the subject, but good running A roadsters and RPU's seems pretty rare compared to sedans and coupes?

    And it says altitude, as in lowering the suspension.

    Yes of course, I would need to get a chassi that has the paperwork in order.
     
  10. Budget36
    Joined: Nov 29, 2014
    Posts: 6,691

    Budget36
    Member

    That might be more difficult? Most chassis I see for sale are from those who have built their own frame, or had one built...and they keep the title.
     
    Atwater Mike likes this.
  11. Petejoe
    Joined: Nov 27, 2002
    Posts: 10,952

    Petejoe
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from Zoar, Ohio

    Last edited: Oct 4, 2018
    j3harleys likes this.
  12. alchemy
    Joined: Sep 27, 2002
    Posts: 16,990

    alchemy
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    None of these cars are rare. There are a hundred for sale at any time. You just need to shop around and find the right one.
     
    j3harleys likes this.
  13. Squablow
    Joined: Apr 26, 2005
    Posts: 15,124

    Squablow
    Member

    I know of several cars which were built exactly as you described and they all turned out quite good. At least here in the US, complete Model A frames with running drivetrains can be bought pretty cheap (around $1500 give or take) from people building rods out of them and only using the body. Get your chassis up and running, and maybe piece together a T roadster body or something to go on top down the line.

    Banger powered rods are making a comeback and I for one am thrilled to see that, they're the newest, affordable route into truly historically-accurate hotrodding.

    Maybe you could even find a cowl and build yourself a speedster body or something custom that would be more within your budget.

    I always am shocked how many commenters assume that everyone could just pull $10,000 out of their ass because "it's less work" than building something. Nothing at all wrong with building a car piece by piece, as the budget allows.

    Even if it ends up costing more time and/or money in the end, that's not the point, the build is the fun part. Go for it.
     
    Atwater Mike, BamaMav, rwrj and 3 others like this.
  14. saltflats
    Joined: Aug 14, 2007
    Posts: 10,824

    saltflats
    Member
    from Missouri

    Sure would be easy to work on without the body. ;):D
     
    Atwater Mike likes this.
  15. Everyone bitches about people not putting their location and then when they do no one looks at it. The OP is in Sweden I am guessing all of it is rare over there.
     
  16. That's how I built mine. I knew what I wanted to build an adapted as parts came advailable. I figured I could make changes later after it was on the road. Took me five years but its been on the road since 2013. Still updating.
     
  17. SR100
    Joined: Nov 26, 2013
    Posts: 939

    SR100
    Member

    It's what I've been thinking of doing, with a '27 T roadster body on a '28/'29 A chassis. I don't know how often European rodders pull off an A body to put it on a new chassis. That is where the $1000-1500 A chassis deals come from here in the US. As is often said on the HAMB, start with the best donor you can find. There won't be much price difference between a tired chassis and a restored one that another rodder is discarding. The other thing to consider is how much you will be replacing. If you plan to switch to a V8, newer trans and/or juice brakes, the A chassis becomes less of a bargain.
     
  18. Mikko_
    Joined: Aug 3, 2018
    Posts: 361

    Mikko_
    Member
    from Sweden

    Here in Sweden I have seen quite a few chassis with title for sale from time to time so they are out there.

    I've been looking up shipment costs, insurance, registration and so on and that would add about 4000-5000 dollars to the price of the car.

    I don't really like the idea of a loan. I like to own my things, not for the bank to own them but I hear what you're saying.:)

    Volvos are pretty far from an A.;)

    That is probably the truth in the US, here in Sweden you'll have to atleast pay up around 20-25k for a running, original roadster.

    Definetly more rare here than over there.
    And rare means really expensive.

    Plan is to keep the 4 banger and mechanical brakes, I want a really simple car in the spirit of the late 30's/early 40's.
     
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  19. alchemy
    Joined: Sep 27, 2002
    Posts: 16,990

    alchemy
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    How about you buy a car in the US and ship it to Sweden? What's it cost for shipping? An older restoration Model A roadster pickup is probably a $15,000 car.

    Wouldn't it be hard to find a chassis over there too? I thought European countries were very strict on the registration numbers, so it was a big no-no to use a different chassis. Do you have loose chassis available?
     
  20. Barrelnose pickup
    Joined: Aug 20, 2008
    Posts: 1,298

    Barrelnose pickup
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    I reckon go for it,you obviously don’t have lots of loot to throw at a project so your plan sounds practical.
    Steady,steady wins the race and you’ll learn all about your drive train as you go.
    As you say the time it takes you to get a good running chassis set up a body you want may come up as funds allow.
    Good luck
     
    clem likes this.
  21. Mikko_
    Joined: Aug 3, 2018
    Posts: 361

    Mikko_
    Member
    from Sweden

    I've considered buying a car in the US and ship it to Sweden since you have a lot more cars to choose from over there.
    But shipping costs, insurance, customs, registration and so on would add about $4000-5000 to the price of the car so it wouldn't really be any cheaper than buying a car here.
    Atleast not with the currency exchange we have at the moment.

    I don't know about rest of Europe but here in Sweden it's not that strict actually.
    For an example: If I would find a chassi from a tudor or fordor with matching title, it wouldn't be any problems putting a roadster body on it and then register it as a roadster.
    They only care about that the VIN-number on the frame matches the VIN on the title.

    Edit; Chassis are definetly harder to find here than in the states but not impossible.
     
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2018
  22. I don't claim to know (current) shipping, import duty/tax & registration requirement details to Sweden, but having been involved with all that, albeit 30+ years ago and mostly to Finland, I wouldn't be surprised if, lets say $15K vehicle (in US) ends up being $20K-$25K (or more?) by the time it's shipped, duties/taxes and officially registered for road use in Sweden or any other EU countries.

    Not to mention that to comply with requirements for latter may take thousands of more $$s because what most in US consider driveable/useable vintage car/build may not actually be anywhere near safe and/or be considered as such for public road use in most European/western society (civilized ?) countries.

    Way more than half the antique/classic/custom/hot rod/vintage cars built/restored in US seen at every event, gathering, magazine spread or interweb forum wouldn't pass safety inspections in EU and IMO, shouldn't even be allowed on public roads in US either or at least on those where they may encounter other road users, especially me, my friends/family and others I care about.
     
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2018
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  23. Mikko_
    Joined: Aug 3, 2018
    Posts: 361

    Mikko_
    Member
    from Sweden

    I could probably spend around $10 000 on the initial purchase and over here that would get me either a decent, complete tudor with some luck OR a incomplete roadster thats been sitting outside in the woods for the last 30 years or so.

    None of the above alternatives is really an option for me so the idea of getting a complete chassis (which costs a lot less than 10k even over here) is very tempting, especially since I have no lack of storage space for the chassis once it's finished.
     
  24. Mikko_
    Joined: Aug 3, 2018
    Posts: 361

    Mikko_
    Member
    from Sweden

    Like you say, a $15k car in the US would end up around $20k when it gets here.
     
  25. ClarkH
    Joined: Jul 21, 2010
    Posts: 1,090

    ClarkH
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    I think this is a good plan, given your circumstances. It gets you started at a low cost, and allows time to search for a low cost/creative solution for the body. For example, there is currently a dismantled T roadster body for sale in the classifieds; it could be boxed and shipped for far less than a complete car. Or go the speedster route--have a roadster cowl shipped to you, and cobble the rest together out of locally sourced stuff. Heck, I've got a sweet pair of T doors in my swap meet pile that a creative guy could build a car around. As Johnny Cash would say, One Piece at a Time.

    There's a lot to be said for buying a turn-key car, especially as you get older. But if you've got the time and interest, the journey of a build can double your fun. Just be aware of the "hidden" cost of tools and equipment.
     
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  26. 30 years ago this (see the photo in the photo) seemed like a good idea ...
    image.jpeg

    ...& given the budgetary constraints at the time, pretty much the only choice I had, but I managed to finish it with less than five figures out-of-pocket, including initial purchase price and contracted transportation from +/- 3000 miles away. :eek:
    Yet, to duplicate identical/similar build today, it would have to be financed by someone else with budget allowance into (low?) six figures for me to even consider.
    Funny how 30 years of aging & professional experience changes perspectives*. :rolleyes:


    *Just yesterday, I had a 4+ hr heart-to-heart, including lunch, with a potential new client who has several quite rare (late-'50s) American cars (makes/models I'm more than familiar with) which he's been trying to get built by several different shops in past 5-10(?) years. Not only none has been finished, but it's almost hard to imagine how much $$$ has been wasted on hack work "performed"(?) to them.
    This "waste" includes a lot of those "fancy-catalog" aftermarket "improvements/upgrades"(???) sold to him as "added value" and "safety" features, while in reality they will (already has ?) only degrade the eventual/potential resale value to less than half (compared to if OEM components were retained and rebuilt) when, if ever, these cars are finished ...
    ... but also that most of these aftermarket "upgrades"(???) need to be either replaced by OEM components or almost completely re-done due to their inferior installation by hacks.

    P.S. Mikko, please accept my apologies for veering off "your" topic with another one of my rants. :oops:
     
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2018
  27. Usually when you find a running chassis for sale someone bought a car for the body and selling the running gear - minus the title for the car they are building. HRP
     
  28. Mikko, as many have already stated, most pre-war cars, especially "lower end" American makes/models do/did not originally have VIN stamped on the chassis/frame. Most have/had it either on the body, the engine or both.
    US manufacturer stamping the VIN to the actual chassis/frame wasn't common even in the '50s or '60s (I don't know about '70s or later).
    IIRC, most of that era cars I shipped to Finland (and around the world) 30-35 years ago, were chassis stamped at or prior to first registration inspection and the stamping had to be done by government certified inspection facility/officer (with approved/specified font shape/size, etc) and be simultaneously recored/signed to government (DMV ?) documents.
    It was required to be on the chassis/frame, but you just couldn't do it yourself for it to be considered "legal".
     
    Mikko_ likes this.
  29. rwrj
    Joined: Jan 30, 2009
    Posts: 674

    rwrj
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from SW Ga

    I did my little speedster like you describe, for the same reasons. I didn't have much expendable cash to throw at it, don't like to borrow money, and I just really enjoyed piddling around with it. By the way, Model A's have the number on the frame, just behind where the cowl would sit. Drivers side (US), if memory serves? Georgia is a Bill of Sale state for cars older than 1985, so the title thing wasn't an issue for me.
     
    Mikko_ likes this.
  30. alchemy
    Joined: Sep 27, 2002
    Posts: 16,990

    alchemy
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    He want's a Model A Ford. They had the serial number stamped on the side of the engine block and the top of the frame rail.
     
    TTR likes this.

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