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Hot Rods How many of you do this for a living...?

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by krackerjack88, May 25, 2010.

  1. krackerjack88
    Joined: Apr 6, 2008
    Posts: 1,247

    from Fresno,Ca

    Just wanna know how many live the dream? I mean from your own garage's to the nicest of shops.

    I wanna build,customize, whatever for my life and just wanna hear it from you guys...
  2. need louvers ?
    Joined: Nov 20, 2008
    Posts: 12,906

    need louvers ?

    I do! Love it, but it's the greatest way to be a "starving artist" I know!
  3. I build engines for a living and do it for fun when I'm not at work. I love it and enjoy going to work. :D Most days anyway.
  4. krackerjack88
    Joined: Apr 6, 2008
    Posts: 1,247

    from Fresno,Ca

    Anyone have any tips for a 21 year old building them in my garage? Am I on the normal pace?

  5. blt2go
    Joined: Oct 27, 2009
    Posts: 551


    are you only 1 month behind on all credit cards and mortgage payments? if so you're ahead of the pace. just kidding, i do this all day everyday, and love it. am i rich? no. do i want to be? no. just being able to walk to work (1/4 mile) and be happy about it and look forward to it is what makes me tick. i also garden and raise chickens, but that is just food on the table. that way i can spend more in the shop.
  6. Building cars for a living is a good way to make a small fortune. Unfortunately, you need to start off with a large fortune.
  7. Deuces
    Joined: Nov 3, 2009
    Posts: 21,268

    from Michigan

    Wish I were in your shoes... So to speak. I'd love to that for a living.
  8. stanlow69
    Joined: Feb 21, 2010
    Posts: 5,726

    from red oak

    I used to drive 120 miles round trip to work for 11 years- Had 285,000 miles on my truck(bought brand new). Always worked part-time out of garage before I quit. Now I walk from my back door to my garage(9 years now)to work. Some things you do out of nesesity. Be patient- you will know when the time is right.
  9. cretin
    Joined: Oct 10, 2006
    Posts: 2,966


    I do this for a living, and just like the others I'm not rich, but I don't hate to go to work every day which is worth quite a bit to me. I'm 27 and have been doing this professionally for about 3 years, so your not to far behind me, but I don't work for myself if that's what you meant. Just learn all you can and try to be the best that you can.
    Also keep in mind the old saying "The shoe maker himself, has no shoes" Sometimes you may find it hard to work on your own projects after doing it all day. At least sometimes I do.
    Last edited: May 26, 2010
  10. lowsquire
    Joined: Feb 21, 2002
    Posts: 2,564

    from Austin, TX

    I do this for a living..took twenty years of doing it for other people to realise I could..but Im dumb like that. you might get on to it quicker..but at twenty one? go and work for someone else in the field you love for at least a few will learn all the stuff you think you already know..but don't.
    I live the life, but I live in the back of my garage, and pay myself 150 bucks a week. thats it. I have no savings, and no forseeable way out..but luckily I dont care.
  11. Blacksmith54
    Joined: Aug 27, 2006
    Posts: 84

    from Phoenix AZ

    I used to build custom cars in the eightys started out building Cobra Kit cars then went into full customs three year later my savings gone and a pregnate wife and I quit after I finished the car I was working on it broke my heart when the owner sold it at one of the January Auctions here in Phoenix a year or so after I handed him the keys he paid me forty K plus what my ex busnesss partner got out of him (including a Beechcraft 225/6) he sold the car for $25,750 and lowered his resurve to get that.

    Sense then I have had four other car related companys and in bad times they have all gone t*ts up.

    Currently doing number five.

  12. 39 sledge
    Joined: Aug 6, 2007
    Posts: 346

    39 sledge
    from p.a.

    i build car,s for a living love the job but people are a pain in the ass they all read to much and listen to 20 people during the build which makes my job even harder plus i,m not a rich man,and surly won,t get rich by doing this.rant over,sorry.:D
  13. cornfieldcustoms
    Joined: Feb 2, 2008
    Posts: 910


    i also build rods for a living! i own my own shop, i am 24 and have been running it full time for about 3 years. i have been working on cars my whole life though and emersed my self into tons of rod shops in school through a youth apprentice ship program and welding school. i worked my ass off to learn as much as possible to start off on my own early.

    like everyone else stated i am not rich and dont want to be. the business takes a lot out of you and your pocket. you would just have to decide if money is important or being your own boss and building cars is worth it to you. also it is not a perfect job like a lot of people may think. most days i love my job, some days it is horrible. you will get people in that just try to screw you and argue against contracts and work orders. those days make it rought but the good out way the bad
  14. I did it part time to while in school to pay for college, then full time after I graduated for 10 years or so, now part time with a normal job. I have to say I love this stuff to death....but even more so love making a decent living. I probably make as much now from it part time as i did full time back then as I only do jobs that I want to and pay well. There are no grumpy customers as I won't do a job if the owner seems like an a**.

  15. oj
    Joined: Jul 27, 2008
    Posts: 6,270


    I been doing it for a long time, started doing it part time to help support my race habit, earning more money for tools etc. Been doing it professionally for about 15 years, getting away from doing the drag cars and enjoy doing the hot rods.
    I'm 60 now and just learning new skills, wouldn't dream of retireing - it is just getting interesting.
    As another suggested, get a job in another shop - any body, mechanical or upholstery shop and begin a life-long apprenticeship.
  16. Clik
    Joined: Jul 1, 2009
    Posts: 1,924


    I woudn't want to work on cars for a living for the same reason I wouldn't want to be a gynecologist: I never want to get tired of looking at them.

    Most of the guys I know who work on hot rods drive stockers or an old piece of crap around most of the time. Some have some super project car that has been under construction for the past twenty years and will never get done.
  17. How many have you built so far. Just curious. I was wrenchin' em when I was your age but I had a head start, the Ol' Man was trying to teach me not to crash the stone when I was 5 or 6.

    If you don't have any experience or a good head for business my best advice is to go to work for someone who is doing it for a living and learn how to run an auto related business. Do it part time until it takes too much time then do your full time job part time until it starts paying the bills.
  18. Steelsmith
    Joined: Feb 5, 2007
    Posts: 581


    Boy, does the 'starving artist' thing ring true! LOL!

    As most have mentioned, there's no money in this. If you work hard, have a good plan and really good skills, you may be able to make a living. You may never have a completed hotrod that you get to call your own for very long!

    Working for customers on their project can be a mixed bag. Most have read magazines for years that tout different visions of what they want to build.

    Unfortunately most of the customers have no experience distilling all of this input into a coherent goal. Most don't realize that rounded parts don't go on a car that has a more squared off design style to it, and vice versa. Even when you try to explain it to them, most don't 'get it'. They end up with their same project going from shop to shop, with different standards of workmanship and more often than not, no understanding of that underlying design element that ties the entire build together, (or is supposed to).
    To me that is why so many projects bring so little when they are sold, there's no continuity of design. The car has appeal but, there's just something about it that sounds a jarring note, and that will have to be redone! As you tear into the project you find more and more that just wasn't done 'right', and the project continues ...
    The number of different builders that have their hands on that project, and all left their rather distinctive 'mark' on that car, it's all but impossible to get that car to come together and look good. Without starting and finishing with ONE competent builder that really does understand what the finished project should be, most hotrods have this problem They've been through several owners, started/stopped, designs changed and it continues ...
    Finding a customer that truely understands this is rare. Finding one that is willing to pay for this? That customer is golden!

    Dan Stevens
    dba, steelsmith
  19. Clik
    Joined: Jul 1, 2009
    Posts: 1,924


    Typically a young person starts out as a helper and progresses up until they're making top dollar for their trade. They branch out on their own thinking they are going to make more money and if they are lucky they do, but it's usually only because they are now working around the clock. Missing family events, parties, vaccations and rod runs is worth it because you don't have that asshole boss anymore. But now you have asshole employees to deal with and you aren't doing what you love, you are doing what you hate: BOOK KEEPING! You soon realize that the average business only nets about 10% due to all the overhead, taxes, insurance, license fees, more taxes and more taxes and more fees and that if you had kept your job and worked under the table on the side you'd have made more money and had free time. But then again if ya got sued with no insurance....
  20. metalman
    Joined: Dec 30, 2006
    Posts: 3,284


    30+ years of building custom cars,about 20 years into it I realized I took a great hobby and turned it into a low paying "job". Wasn't fun no more but it was all I really knew how to do. Now I'm retired, it's a great hobby again and I'm having fun. Mostly because when I get up and go to work, it's on a car with my name on the title!
  21. 29 bones
    Joined: Sep 26, 2006
    Posts: 1,126

    29 bones
    from so cal

    I do it every day,Working for customers on there stuff is fun...but keeping a project on the side for yourself is they way to go,you get to build it the way you want.....
  22. wanting is a good thing! but expierence is the most important thing! you have to have skills that bring customers to you.

    the problem with backyard builders is they are stuck with a wage mentality. they believe that they have earned 20 buck an hour working for someone else that they can run a business for 25 an hour. truth is 25 an hour won't cover the overhead in even the smallest shops.

    the hardest lesson my son had to learn was the money in a business account isn't yours. you have to pay yourself a set salary. and if the moneys not there you don''t get paid. thats where working part time for a check is a good way to start in business.

    On the other hand you will never get rich working for wages. don't ever give up your dreams. just set your goals and focus on a time frame 5-10 years. live on 75% of what you earn. start buying tools and equipment as you can and don't be afraid to work for very little in exchange for learning skills. night school is another resource that helps. welding, sheet metal, body shop. but don't miss the business classes as well.
    Good luck
  23. THE_DUDE
    Joined: Aug 22, 2009
    Posts: 2,601


    I think ya got it backwards... I live to do this
  24. docauto
    Joined: Dec 1, 2006
    Posts: 789

    from So Cal

    I'd suggest a "daily grind" job for a reliable paycheck and benefits, and then run a small shop on the side to see if you can make a go of it. You'll never be rich, but you may make enough to pay for your toys. The best benefit I've found is the tax writeoffs for equipment and rent. I've been at it for about 30 years, and at least all my stuff is paid for.
  25. godspeedbear
    Joined: Sep 21, 2009
    Posts: 261

    from golden

    You'll be ready when it costs you to work for someone else..

    Build cars, mak'em bitch'en.. and people will come to you for work...
  26. Be careful what you wish for.I started my shop 5 years ago and so far it has caused me to be broke,stressed out,and behind on my bills.
  27. JDHolmes
    Joined: Nov 25, 2006
    Posts: 918

    from Spring TX

    As many have chimed in, get experience doing hot rods because one gets hungry very fast without customer cars in the shop. I've owned my own shop for four years now BUT I don't do it full time. I've got a pretty good day job that allows me to take a loss on the business and still live fairly well.

    The most important "experience" you can have going into this is business experience and the financial aspects of running any business, most importantly calculating the actual hourly expenses you have so that your hourly rate covers all expenses and gives you income.

    As others have also mentioned, doing something for a "job" (living) is a good way to turn something you love into something you don't really care for. There's a reason mechanics drive crappy cars, carpenters houses are falling down, and electricians have outlets that don't work at home. Seldom do people want to spend their free time doing what they do for a wage.
  28. gmartin73
    Joined: Feb 12, 2010
    Posts: 55


    i've been a collision painter for 13 yrs. i would like to start doing more custom stuff, but there really isnt too much demand around here, unless it a dope dealer wanting his donk painted candy but who wants to do that? i love my job but it does make it so you dont want to work on your own projects. i've completed some projects in the last few yrs but ive got one that has been sitting for 14yrs.
  29. xmacx
    Joined: Nov 22, 2008
    Posts: 218

    from illinois

    I work at a tire shop from 8 - 5 and then go home and work in the hot rod shop. My dad builds cars for people all day long I think I was cursed from birth with this crazy car love I have.

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