Register now to get rid of these ads!

Technical Is a low budget hot rod even possible?

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Fender1325, Apr 24, 2016.

  1. Fender1325
    Joined: Aug 31, 2014
    Posts: 730


    Guys Ive had a hankering for a real simple hot rod.....doesnt even need paint. I want it simple, strong and understated, like an old farm tractor. Doesnt have to be all too pretty, just basic....SBC, manual trans. No fiberglass - steel.

    I have a couple cadillacs....a 50, which is my first old car , (used it in my wedding), all original and runs and drives around town......and a 56 coupe de-basket case :D which needs a full restoration, but is my dream car.

    Ive been kicking around the idea of selling the 50, which I imagine would scratch together roughly 6k.

    I dont think its possible, but Id love to be wrong......could I even get a bare bones, junkyard SBC powered, hot rod like a 29-32 roadster happening for 6-8?

    I believe the answer is keep dreaming right? :cool:

    Always boggles my mind the money roadsters fetch when its such a small, minimal car.....

    Also makes me wonder how hard itd be to build something from scratch - wouldnt have to nail a ford body, just be inspired by it. I imagine the frame/chassis alone would set me back a lot.

    Are the days of cheap hot rodding dead? (If they ever existed to be cheap)?
  2. 57JoeFoMoPar
    Joined: Sep 14, 2004
    Posts: 4,838


    Could it be done? Sure. But you'll need to do a lot of scrounging for parts, and I still think you'd come in on the upper end of the 6-8K range budget wise. If you were able to fall into a good enough unfinished project for 4-5K, you'd have the additional 3K for everything to make it run, drive, stop, steer... The drivetrain is the cheap and easy part. Grab any decent running, SBC powered vehicle off of Craigslist for $400 and you have your engine and trans. It's all the rest of the stuff that's going to add up, and unless you're the one doing the body and paint, consider that out of the question. Body and paint alone would cost more than your entire build budget
    Hot Rod Nut likes this.
  3. dana barlow
    Joined: May 30, 2006
    Posts: 4,225

    dana barlow
    from Miami Fla.
    1. Y-blocks

    Cheap thinking?,that's a werid thing I find odd my self. Think big,dream big,work at the gold. Sounds werid too,but what I mean is things come together if try hard enough,never think"I can put up with it looking like crap from no shiny paint" or a like. On the way,it may not be what you dream yet,just keep going to your dream.
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2016
    Baumi and birdog like this.
  4. adam401
    Joined: Dec 27, 2007
    Posts: 2,393


    Here's what's doable. You take the 6 grand your gonna have from the caddy and you buy a project model a. You have a few bucks left over to get started with if you've gotten a good deal. Assuming you can weld you whip the body and frame into shape all the while looking for parts you need and spending a hundred here and there.
    By the time it's done you will have spent more than you started out too but unless your super broke it won't wreck your life it just is what it is.
    I honestly never thought of cars in terms of a budget and I don't have a lot of money. I just build what I want and spent what I can when I can and do all my own work.
    Life's short so fuck worrying about money. Now go sell that caddy and get in the game.

  5. Hackerbilt
    Joined: Aug 13, 2001
    Posts: 6,247


    You can definately build a simple and clean Hot Rod for that money.
    THEN you state you want either a full size Caddy or a 29-32 roadster (which implies FORD)
    Oh yeah...has to be real steel.

    Sorry...YOU can't build a simple and clean Hot Rod for that kind of money.
    You have too many limits set...and every one is high dollar to get around because everyone wants exactly the same thing.
    There are too few to go around...thus the cost goes way up!

    Now...if you set your limits and expectations a little lower you could definately do it.
    You say the frame/chassis would set you back a lot. Why?
    Ordering it or building it?
    Ordering it and bolting it together will be costly.
    I can make a T or A styled ladder frame over an easy weekend with $200.00 worth of steel tube.
    I also have enough stuff here to put together a complete early front axle with F100 8 3/4 dodge rearend...various springs etc. My rolling frame would be around $800.00 max because I have the big stuff already.
    If I had to buy everything, you could easily put a 3 or 4 in front of that $800.00.

    Building stuff yourself cheap and your goal is possible, but buying stuff cheap puts you in a costlier class of cheap, if you get my drift!
    need louvers ? likes this.
  6. 57JoeFoMoPar
    Joined: Sep 14, 2004
    Posts: 4,838


    Here's another consideration; why do you want to get rid of the '50 and get a hot rod? Are you not into customs or full bodied cars? What are your ultimate goals? Do you want to drive long distances? How fast do you want this hot rod to be? If the goal is to make it move, stop and steer to a minimal degree, then it could be possible on a shoestring budget. But if you want this thing to move FAST, stop QUICKLY and steer ACCURATELY, and on top of that, be traditional (which adds a significant cost of finding good, functioning period components over using what will just work)... I think you're going to find yourself either out of money or with an incomplete project or both.
  7. RainierHooker
    Joined: Dec 20, 2011
    Posts: 2,018

    from Tacoma, WA

    I think you can but the old adage rings true: You can have it done quick, done cheap, or done right, but you can only pick two of the three.

    I have been scrounging parts for another '28 Model A hot rod build, here and there. I have been scooping up cheap or traded parts for the better part of three years, and finally have pretty much all the stuff for a complete, and very traditional rolling chassis (Model A Frame n' suspension, '39 Tranny, '58 Chevy 283, '41 Banjo Rear, '40 Ford Brakes, etc.). I maybe, just maybe, have about 2-grand into it. I figure that I can probably finish it for under $8k, but I am also realistic in that it'll probably take me another half decade to find all the parts for it...
    sko_ford likes this.
  8. I think it is possible - if you can do all your own work . . . but, not with your criteria of a 29-32 roadster. You might be able to do it with a coupe or 2 door sedan - but get the roadster thing out of your mind, unless you're willing to increase your budget by a fair amount.

    Another thing to ponder is your time and skills -- do you have plenty of both? It is easy to want this stuff, a bit harder to collect parts (cheaply) . . . but the time and work involved to build something that is safe, cool and you'd be proud of . . . that is the part that you really have to think about. If you truly have the will and are willing to work hard - there is a path.

    My suggestion is to throw the roadster idea out - and get started on something that you can afford and won't break the bank. The fun of doing the work, figuring out how to scrounge decent parts, getting to know people in the hotrod world, chasing down leads, finding a few cool 'finds' along the way, putting it together and driving it - is worth way more than just the body style . . . so get started!
    osage orange and BradinNC like this.
  9. 51box
    Joined: Aug 31, 2005
    Posts: 965

    from MA

    You have to make the initial find to build something that cheap. Up here an A body on the market that needs the lower 6" is WAY overpriced.
    jeffd1988, volvobrynk and adam401 like this.
  10. adam401
    Joined: Dec 27, 2007
    Posts: 2,393


    Man if you get one that needs the bottom six inches the budgets already blown. My cars always need the bottom 8
    osage orange likes this.
  11. My two cents would be to buy someone's half finished project. I bought the bulk of my avatar roadster that way. I think it was around 6k. Got the body. A new frame almost finished, drivetrain that needed to be rebuilt.
    I think I have around 11k into it total. I cheaped out on the interior. But I did rebuild the flathead, which wasn't cheap.
    Go with a SBC and you'll keep the price down, as compared to me.
    Ron Brown, volvobrynk and wedjim like this.
  12. Hackerbilt
    Joined: Aug 13, 2001
    Posts: 6,247


    Be that can move things up (or down!) in the cost factor!
    A good scrounger in an area with some good hunting spots could get a lot of early stuff cheap. Chassis parts etc anyway.
    Maybe not era speed parts...but sometimes they do still go cheap.
    A non SBC traditional style engine won't be an easy find in good running condition and might be a real money pit to rebuild.
    Thats the beauty of the SBC...easy to retrofit to an early look, yet new and popular enough that even a rebuild is cheap compared to the "cooler" engines.

    I don't think I would get too caught up in the "must be 100% traditional" thought though.
    If a car is built inexpensively its not gonna have a load of street rod inspired parts anyway.
    Just use all oem style brake lines, flex hose and fittings instead of braided engine driven fan over electric...stuff like that.
    Gives it a more traditional feel while saving a bunch of money!
    Steel wheels and caps do the same thing.

    If your heart is set on a topless could always build a coupester instead of a real roadster.
    It was done lots back in the day and looks good IF the windshield area is done with a roadster-ish windshield frame and posts.
    Hard to beat a topless ride on a nice sunny day! ;)
  13. Moondog13
    Joined: Sep 7, 2006
    Posts: 761


    Yes, but not for real Henry steel that doesn't need a ton of work, although I think this is dependent on the area you're from. I'm doing the same but went fiberglass T roadster with a real T frame and a bunch of Volvo PV 544 parts I already had. Won't be traditional per se but it will look the part and be fun to drive which is the main reason we do this anyway.
  14. Bingo, an unfinished project is the way to go. Considering that route for my next build. Get something that most of the hard work has been done (hopefully correctly..). I don't think $6k is going to buy as much as you'd like it to.

    I'm about double the $$ I thought my Ford would take and about 6 months behind schedule.
  15. wicarnut
    Joined: Oct 29, 2009
    Posts: 5,626


    Anything is possible if you set a goal and work towards it IMO, if you can build it, go for it, if you want to purchase a car, go shopping, be Patient, if you need to raise your budget amount, work toward it, if you smoke and your ass is on a bar stool, stop one or both and get a part time job. There are NO excuses to not achieve your goals, the only person holding you back is YOU ! Good Luck !This rant (Advice) is from an "Old Timer" DISCLAIMER ! Sometimes, Free Advice is worth price paid.
  16. I think it's doable only if you find a cheap body & frame,Model A's are far less expensive than 32's.

    If you can find a project someone has given up on is usually your best staring point but 6 grand doesn't go far when you start buying parts.

    You may need to expand your list to include sedans and trucks,these are generally less expensive than roadsters.

    Just a thought but you might think about trading the Caddy for a stalled project,this might get more band for your buck. HRP
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2016
  17. Some sound advice there - couldn't agree more!
    BradinNC, volvobrynk and wicarnut like this.
  18. Fender1325
    Joined: Aug 31, 2014
    Posts: 730


    I think about it like this.....firstly, I LOVE full bodied cadillacs. Wonderful stuff. With my 50, Ive invested likely all I will in it. It runs, drives, stops and steers, brakes work, hi beam low beam and turn signals. For whatever reason, it winds out on the highway. Its not geared for it. Weather stripping is toast and lots of money to replace (clears $1000). So she just lives in town for the occasional cruise on nice days, and back in the garage. Its my first old car, and its in all my wedding photos. I love it but its all it'll ever be with me. Needs a real restoration.

    The 56 is my dream car. I have an open title for it, its not registered, its not costing me insurance or taxes, its not going anywhere. Doesnt drive. I want to restore that all the way. Being a coupe its worth the investment long term.

    In the meantime......

    I miss having a manual transmission behind a V8. My daily is an 03 v-sucks f150. As vanilla plain as they come. Bench seat vinyl, rubber floor, wind down windows and a regular radio. I love simplicity in cars, but this thing is just so boring to drive daily.

    Id love a roadster to zip around town, a little raw, wouldnt have to worry about it in the parking lot at the grocery store or wherever, because it wouldnt take up the entire space and have a chrome dressed big curvy body waiting for some idiot to open their door into. It would be very refreshing to be able to hit the highway and not worry about gearing, and have enough power to get out of my own way.
  19. A while ago, I wanted to do a similar build. It's easy to read how some people, having been around the hobby for years, make something that simple look so easy. What I failed to 'see' was that they knew people who had parts, had certain skills (machining, welding, bodywork) so they also lowered their cost with sweat equity. To hear them tell it, these were easy, cheap cars.

    I started collecting parts, but didn't have the time, garage space or finances to get to the goal. It was supposed to be my first build so it was likely more difficult since I was building a network of friends & resources as much as collecting parts. That takes LOTS of time. I got impatient and frustrated unfortunately and sold much of what I had.

    Years later, I find I have a different car in the garage, and am always asking for some kind of help. I'd ask yourself what is it you want- the cool old traditional rod? Or something to build your skills on while trying to save for it? It's usually a proposition of time or money. And skills. If I were you, hang onto the '50, learn a lot, improve it while beating the bushes looking for parts for your dream car.

    My rod never happened but I'm happy with what I have. Maybe that's a healthy way to look at it too.
    osage orange, AHotRod and Fender1325 like this.
  20. tubman
    Joined: May 16, 2007
    Posts: 5,458


    Don't do too good a job.:D I started a project like this with a lot of parts I already had on hand, so I thought I'd come out pretty cheaply. Unfortunately (or probably fortunately). my combination of parts fit together pretty good, and I really started liking what was happening. That caused "project creep" to step in, and now I'll be lucky to come in under 10K.
  21. Fender1325
    Joined: Aug 31, 2014
    Posts: 730


    Im not opposed to building a frame, I just didnt know one could build a correct looking one with steel tube - mainly in my head Im wondering about the front horns where the grill shell and suspension are. Im new to these cars so I need to read up more.

    Again, Im not opposed to building a 1 off custom roadster inspired by 30's hot rods. However I sure have seen some terrible ones that would be a real shame to throw away money like that haha. It seems the curved edge where the side of the body meets the trunk area is very hard to execute.

    I have more time than money currently (you usually have one or the other), a willingness to learn, a 110 volt hobart handler 140, a hand crank bead roller, angle grinders and a horizontal band saw.

    I might get more bang for the buck just doing my own thing. Id probably use ebay for the lights, grill shell and suspension.
  22. A Boner
    Joined: Dec 25, 2004
    Posts: 5,851

    A Boner

    30 X $7.00= $210.00/month
    $200.00+/ month towards building a hot rod or x12=over $2500.00/year
    If you smoke, quitting will fund a hot rod build.....but then you probably already knew that.
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2016
  23. I don't know where you live but if it's anywhere in or near Oregon have I got a deal for you.
  24. Fender1325
    Joined: Aug 31, 2014
    Posts: 730


    I dont smoke and I live cheaply. :D

    Question: Is it possible that I'd be able to use the rear axle off a late model car from the junkyard? Or are they all too wide?
  25. Fender1325
    Joined: Aug 31, 2014
    Posts: 730


    I live in NC, and to make a jump Id have to sell the 50 first. Curious about what you have though!
  26. Well, North Carolina is a bit far but for anyone in my area I have a TCI model A frame roller with steering and brakes f/s. Priced to go away. PM if anyone is serious.
  27. F&J
    Joined: Apr 5, 2007
    Posts: 13,222


    I'd go with a mix of what was said already;
    Scour the local C/L, etc...looking for a sketchy old build that was never finished, or find the body that you can make work, like a coupster, or even the front of a touring to make a roadster pickup.

    But like was said; you need to know about old parts like Ford front suspensions, in case you see that on C/L or a scrap recycle place, even under old farm built trailers.

    and you must have fab skills, as you can't do 1-800-$$ each time you need a part

    buy stuff in a bulk purchase to sell what you don't need, to end up with parts for "free"...but that takes time too.

    You can build a frame from salvaged 2x4 tubing found at scrap recycle, then make your own frame horn tips from flat plate steel from there too. The front crossmember could be used Model A, or a repro.

    You may find a cheap used radiator from a rodder that upgrades his car.

    But you must avoid ordering new parts on that price range. The only new parts should be brake lines, hoses, master and wheel cyls, etc. Example: You find a used F1 steering box and column that does not need rebuilding, rather than spend $$ for a repro Vega box, and repro column.
  28. jamesgs4
    Joined: Aug 22, 2007
    Posts: 253

    from denver

    to come in close to budget, set a plan and do not deviate. the more you change your mind, the more expensive it is going to get. DAMHIK
    Fender1325 likes this.
  29. 3wLarry
    Joined: Mar 11, 2005
    Posts: 12,804

    Member Emeritus
    from Owasso, Ok

    sell everything you can and buy a cheap car to fix up and flip....repeat this process several this for a year and see how much your $6000 has grown...I do this myself to fund my own car addiction
  30. 117harv
    Joined: Nov 12, 2009
    Posts: 6,590


    ^^^ I was going to post something along these lines. Build you're car with others $$$$
    3wLarry likes this.

Share This Page

Register now to get rid of these ads!


Copyright © 1995-2021 The Jalopy Journal: Steal our stuff, we'll kick your teeth in. Terms of Service. Privacy Policy.

Atomic Industry
Forum software by XenForo™ ©2010-2014 XenForo Ltd.