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How to afford a hot rod on a regular guy's income.

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by wsdad, Nov 26, 2012.

  1. wsdad
    Joined: Dec 31, 2005
    Posts: 1,155


    It seems, from what I've read and from my own experience, that one of the big time wasters in getting our hot rods done is waiting for the spare money to buy parts. May I recommend this formula given to me by someone who was smarter and richer than I am:

    1. Get rid of your car, insurance and interest payments and buy an ugly, cheap, reliable old car. Buy only liability insurance for it - it's a faction of the cost of full coverage.

    I found a 1992 Toyota Corolla with 145,000 miles on it for $300. Another $150 worth of junk yard parts and it was an ugly driver. I've driven it nearly 11 months now without any costly breakdowns. So far, that's only $40 per month if it dies tomorrow. Even if it did, an entire engine with all the bits and pieces only costs $140.00 from the local Pick-n-pull junk yard. Contrary to popular belief, it's been comfortable and reliable. The car before this one was an old Grand Marquis with pealing paint that I bought for $2000 and drove for 5 years. That's only $33 per month.

    In order for it to be reliable AND cheap, it will most likely have to be ugly. Many people sell ugly cars cheap even though they're still mechanically good because of the perception that if they're ugly, they must be unreliable. Also, sometimes thier ego won't let them drive an ugly car. You can profit from this if you're humble.

    2. Pay yourself the same amount you were paying to someone else in car payments and insurance payments - but don't spend any of it yet!

    3. This is the most important part of the formula that makes it all work: Build up $1000.00 in the bank to cover real emergencies. A real emergency is a toothache or a blown tire - not a good deal on another parts car that might get away if you don't buy it now. Let it go until you have some savings. Don't touch that money unless you have to. It will keep you from doing stupid things to come up with fast cash. Without that money in the bank, you will never get ahead because something unexpected will always knock you back down.

    4. After that, build up another $500.00 for those good deals that you WILL run across. How many times have you had to let something get away because you didn't have the cash to get it?

    5. Once you have the $1500.00 saved up, spend all that money that you were giving away every month on YOUR project (or save it for a bigger purchase next month).

    Now you have a big chunk of money each month to throw at the project car. Your friends may laugh at you for driving an ugly, cheap car. Just hang a picture or two around of the car you're saving up for and tell them that's why you're driving the ugly car for a while. Most people will get it. If they don't immediately, they will when you drive up in your shiny new hot rod.

    My car payments plus insurance payments added up to $480 per month. In one year, that's $5760 in savings. In 6 years, I've saved an incredible $34,560 to spend on my hot rod. (It didn't all get spent there.) Your numbers may be different, but the principals are the same.

    Or, you can keep giving all your money away each month to strangers, so that you can appear normal to people who only vaguely notice what you drive for about one second - and then go back to thinking about themselves.

    Hope this helps someone get a hot rod that would have otherwise been doomed to always driving a new car (or an expensive used car).
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2012
  2. porknbeaner
    Joined: Sep 12, 2003
    Posts: 38,219


    Good advice. I normally own a car that is payed for and pretty much always have owned a car or bike that was paid for. I have only finnanced two cars of my own in my entire life, and never financed a bike.

    I cannot say that it leaves me lots of money to spare but it certainly helps to not have a fancy car and a big monthly bill in the way.
  3. Now if I could just get the wife to buy in on this...
  4. Mike51Merc
    Joined: Dec 5, 2008
    Posts: 3,632


    You don't have to drive a junker to save money, you just have to buy right. A three year old car with 33K miles will typically sell for 50% of its original MSRP.
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  5. Jalopy Jim
    Joined: Aug 3, 2005
    Posts: 1,868

    Jalopy Jim

    When I built and drove Road Racing cars spectators would often say to us I always wanted to go racing but can't afford it. and latter you would see them driving around in a new BMW ect. The reply always was to these people : it is in priorities if you want something in life you usually have to give up something. I have not had a new car/truck since 1980 and that 3 month old 1980 Ford stepside had to be sold to pay for my oldest daughter's doctor bills. since then I've driven every thing for army surplus pickup trucks to my 4 year old Chevy pickup. But I had many good seasons of road racing and now building two hot rods. And we live and raised 3 kids in a 1140sq foot house in the country. And my wife and I would not have changed a thing.
  6. Ester Eddie
    Joined: Feb 26, 2012
    Posts: 3,988

    Ester Eddie
    from Alaska

    My budget only allows me to buy a at least 20 year old beater every so often and I still can't get ahead.Kids are pricey ..But I can dream and hope for that hot rod before I leave the planet.
  7. porknbeaner
    Joined: Sep 12, 2003
    Posts: 38,219


    These days we usually figure on a grand to eighteen hundred for a beat around car for me to drive. You can usually get something presentable for that. About 4 or 5 years ago we bought a Jelly bean car for my mom to drive around the neighborhood for twelve hundred.

    The car ended up being my granddaughter's car in high school. I probably would not expect it to carry any of us to the beach and back but for around town it is just fine.

    When my kid was little I was young and did side jobs to afford my cars. Mechanical work or fabrication always helped me pay my way.

    I also bartered a lot, I still do.

    I keep things around that I find cheap that may be good trading stock at a later date. Then when someone has something that I want or need and cannot afford I have something to trade for it.

    There was a fella in Canada that had an axle that I wanted about 7 years ago. I didn't have any cash for the axle, but I knew a fella that had some wheels that the guy in canada wanted. I could trade a couple of carbs that I had literally nothing in the other guy that had the wheels. All I ended up actually spending out of pocket was the shipping on the axle.

    Asdie from freeing up cash by not driving a Lexus sometimes you have to be creative.
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2012
  8. 53sled
    Joined: Jul 5, 2005
    Posts: 5,820

    from KCMO

    My furnace started spewing raw gas and carbon monoxide. So there went my parts budget. But I enjoy the build, and am patient. Wish we rented sometimes though.
  9. I've found that the less money I have for a build the more creative I get. Some of my best projects were done when I had the least amount of money.Maybe there's a lesson to be learned here.
  10. yeah don't buy new,you'll lose 3K right when you drive it off the lot,plus the first few years are interest payments only,no principle.I tried explaining that to my bitch-of-a-sister-in-law who HAS to have a NEW vehicle every three years regardless because of her fear of a breakdown phobia,i'm talking loaded 4wd chevy tahoe payments must be 1K a month,what a waste to keep up with the joneses!!...
  11. GirchyGirchy
    Joined: Mar 17, 2011
    Posts: 202

    from Central IN

    Only $1000 for emergencies? Damn. I'd start with $5000.
  12. my father taught many years ago.....stay out of debt and buy only what you have cash for and can afford (a house may be an exception). it has worked for me, right now i do not owe a dime to anyone
  13. wsdad
    Joined: Dec 31, 2005
    Posts: 1,155


    That's true but you're still giving away money that could be used on your hot rod.

    In real money, 50% of MSRP is about $10,000 (for a $20,000 car). A reliable, ugly car is about $2,000. That's an $8,000 difference to spend on a hot rod, not counting 5 years of full coverage insurance - another $7,500, not counting interest - another $4,000. In total, there's $19,500 that could have been spent on your hot rod if you bought a junker instead of a three year old car with 33K miles on it.

    It's a choice. There's no right or wrong. If you want the new car, finance it. If you want the hot rod, here's one way you can do that. It's not for everyone but it does work.
  14. dabirdguy
    Joined: Jun 23, 2005
    Posts: 2,359


    I have not made a car payment in 8 years.
    The wife now drives a 96 VW and will soon be driving a 66 Bug as her daily.
    My daily is an 85 El Camino.
    We also have a '91 Ford van as emergency backup.
    Not stylish, but they more than get us around.
    I will never again pay interest to a banker or a company just for the privilege of driving my car around.
  15. Ester Eddie
    Joined: Feb 26, 2012
    Posts: 3,988

    Ester Eddie
    from Alaska

    Pork and beaner I hear yah man.I have been grabbing tons of this and thats off cars at work .Anything that looks like I can grab during my lunch or break I grab.carbs,glass,mirrors glass,valve covers ,trim what ever I can before its destroyed.I figured I can trade stuff later.Plus its 20 below here and no shop so I must wait until Spring to get busy.Thanks for the advice.
  16. R Frederick
    Joined: Mar 30, 2009
    Posts: 2,661

    R Frederick
    from illinois

    X2, throw in a wife, and that plan goes to shit soup quick.:eek:
    All our cars are paid for, but she thinks we need to spend all the money on home improvements, not toys.
  17. High5
    Joined: Jul 2, 2012
    Posts: 163


    Good advice. Car payments can really take a toll on budget constraints.

    This is nothing new. But dig through your shelves and get rid of unused parts for a little extra income. It can mount up fast. Sold inventory owned by a friend who passed away recently. The total was in excess of $11K! His widow was thrilled. Did all of it on-line.

    Also consider looking through things at garage sales. There's some bargains to be had. And some could be flipped for a tidy profit.
  18. Mike51Merc
    Joined: Dec 5, 2008
    Posts: 3,632


    Everything is relative. To me, DD comes first because you need it to make a living. No offense, but a $2000 DD doesn't do it for me.
    Then the house (including all family stuff). Lately the orthodontist has taken my hot rod money, but I suck it up and take it like a man.

    Me and my silly hobbies come last.
  19. Powerwgn
    Joined: Mar 1, 2009
    Posts: 75

    from Solvang CA

    I second that. When im really short on cash its amazing how far i can strech it on car parts. The funny thing is its kind of enjoyable looking for the best possible deal, the thrill of the hunt. Dont get me wrong, I will happily order new stuff off the computer all day, its just that having a budget and sticking to it is very satisfying.
  20. I have the best girl ever, she is all about the hotrods, and the lifestyle. We are not rich or even well off, I drive an ambulance, and she is a teacher.
    I have been looking for a new house so I can build a shop for a few years now, the girlfriend says "let's just get the house you want that has a shop already". So I start looking and find a good buy that has everything I've been looking for. I haven't bought it yet (in process) but she is all about saving every dime for that next project wether it be a house or hotrod. It just takes some prioritizing and dedication to have the things you want in life.
  21. Von Rigg Fink
    Joined: Jun 11, 2007
    Posts: 13,432

    Von Rigg Fink
    from Garage

    I live by this rule, and all I have to pay off is the house...gotta have a place to stay warm and dry.

    guess its all in the prioraties
  22. junk yard kid
    Joined: Nov 11, 2007
    Posts: 2,637

    junk yard kid

    buying new cars is just silly. Talk about throwing money away. But it must work for some cause a lot are being sold. I forgot to mention i get mine wreaked with a salvage title and i fix em up.
  23. porknbeaner
    Joined: Sep 12, 2003
    Posts: 38,219


    The wife found a house on the other side of no where that we looked at abnd bought because it had a nice 40x30. The house is old and beat up (like us I suppose) but I am in the process of making it livable again.

    We had to be creative but we ended up paying cash for it.

    Another thing that I have discovered that helps on finance is saving your loose change. Everyday when I was still working I threw all my loose change in a big assed antique wine bottle. One of those big water bottles works as well. It took us about 12 years to fill it and it came out to about 7K when we cashed it in. We never missed the loose change.
  24. 49ratfink
    Joined: Feb 8, 2004
    Posts: 16,056

    from California

    goofy thread. anyone with the tools and abilities to build an old classic isn't going to be going over budget on a new car in the first place. so there goes half your HOT ROD budget in this scenario.

    new cars are for people who can't keep the old ones running.
  25. skwurl
    Joined: Aug 25, 2008
    Posts: 1,620


  26. sambo
    Joined: Jan 19, 2009
    Posts: 352


    I went from a new F150 to this-I wish I'd made a better cheap car choice,I couldnt get half what I got into this p.o.s. ,but my son's boyscout troop digs it,the time and $ wrapped up I could be driving my 46 instead.With a heater...

    Attached Files:

  27. VonKool13
    Joined: Feb 16, 2008
    Posts: 1,025


    Im doing just that mentioned by OP, my problems is getting my wife to follow suit.

    Sent from my DROID device using the TJJ mobile app
  28. Yellowrr
    Joined: Feb 10, 2009
    Posts: 483


    I agree! Yeah, admittedly there are days that I want to strangle my wife, but for the most part SHE'S more frugal than me and we get along great! I had to practically DEMAND that she go out and buy a new pair of heels for my work Christmas party last year when her old heels were practically falling apart! We don't have kids, and our 1400 sf ranch in the middle of the suburbs is just fine with us.

    When she lost her job in '08 we sweated for a little while but somehow we figured out how to make it on just one income AND to still have a little left over for hot rod parts or a dinner at Ruby Tuesdays every now & then.

    We've owned about 130 cars & trucks since we've been married (I used to part out or flip Mopar muscle car bodies a LOT) and we have only purchased ONE brand new vehicle out of all of them. Even some of my "flips" were bought for CHEAP, repaired & daily driven for a few months and sold at a pretty nice profit.

    But WSDAD, I can one up you a little.... my daily driver is a Blues Brothers "Bluesmobile" replica that I use for my tribute band and also for parades and charity events. Sure, some days I feel like a real weirdo driving a POS black & white '74 Dodge Monaco to & from work, BUT it's paid for itself MANY times over (we get hired sometimes to just bring the car for meet & greets or for festivals, etc... and I use it to advertise for my Blues Brothers act.), parts and insurance for it are CHEAP, and I can fix darn near anything on it by myself without a scanner or a repair shop to tell me what's wrong with it. It's currently got 271,000 miles on it, and after installing Sirius on it and getting the AC working again YEARS ago, I've only had to put tires, brakes, and the usual maintenance items on it.

    Shameless self promotion here: Check out for our Blues Brothers tribute act schedule. I'll be posting a link soon about how to get a copy of a charity CD that we performed a song for. It benefits the Richmond (Virginia) Hospital's Education Program (keeps school-aged kids current in their schoolwork when they're in the hospital for longer periods of time). THANKS!
  29. When our twin girls were small I drove a '65 Ford truck that I still own and Brenda drove a 66 Dodge van.

    Both were paid for and what money I made at my regular job went to house hold expenses,,,

    I worked two part time jobs and that helped with my project 1930 Model A pickup.

    When I built the truck I scrounged junk yards for parts,,at that time they would let you roam the yard for parts.

    I believe if you want a hot rod or custom you can make it happen on most any budget and enough time. HRP
  30. This is just dumb. There are lots of reasons people buy new cars that have nothing to do with being able to work on cars.

    Sent from my DROID device using the TJJ mobile app

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