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Hot Rods Just Curious... Will A Top Notch Show Car Make Money?

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Fordor Ron, Feb 19, 2019.

  1. Rusty O'Toole
    Joined: Sep 17, 2006
    Posts: 9,166

    Rusty O'Toole

    There was a time you could build a cool car and get appearance money from car shows if you were a well known builder but I don't think there was ever a time you could make a living this way.
    Ed Roth used his show cars as part of a money making business. Each year he would come out with a fresh show car. He was not after trophies or appearance money, he got the right to set up a booth on a primo spot in the display hall and sell T shirts and accessories. He might make several thousand dollars a weekend this way.
    The cars were also featured in the magazines of the day. Because they were famous show cars.
    Possibly him buying full page ads in every magazine every month had something to do with it.
    All this publicity made it worthwhile for a model company to pay him a royalty to produce plastic models of his creations - cars and monsters.

    So you had Roth building show cars, leveraging them for publicity to sell the T shirts at shows and thru magazine ads, plus revenue from models, for several years he made a good thing out of it. All the parts working together.

    Then times changed. Monster shirts went out of fashion in favor of drugs and sex references, a direction Roth refused to go. Show cars went out or turned into caricatures of outhouses and dump trucks, another place he didn't want to go. He got more and more into custom motorcycles which the car magazines wouldn't touch, and the model company dumped him. So the whole thing collapsed.

    The point is, the show cars did produce revenue indirectly but they were part of a large complex business. When times changed the whole thing fell apart. Getting divorced didn't help.

    He was one of the few that made money out of building show cars. The others were show promoters who featured their own creations. Again, the show cars were only part of a larger business.
  2. Chappy444
    Joined: Jan 27, 2012
    Posts: 1,088

    1. Maryland HAMBers

    I like what @Ryan is saying but I think there is one more category to add to his list.
    3. The Patron. Just like sculptors and painters have patrons that commission them to do work and spread the word of their ability, hot rodding seems to have a few patrons as well...
    The longer you are in the hobby the more you hear a few names over and over again... not the builders... but the buyers.
    An example: George Poteet.
    here is an excerpt from a Car and Driver article that sums it up pretty well.

    "…Projects commissioned by Poteet are always finished to the highest standard. They take a lot of time and, in a business that operates on hourly rates, that steady work can keep a garage’s doors open. There isn’t a hot-rod-centric magazine, website, newsletter, pamphlet, vlog, or podcast that hasn’t featured his cars, and given Poteet’s profile in the hot-rodding community, a commission from him gets a shop noticed. He was the first paying customer at Troy Trepanier’s Rad Rides shop in Illinois, which produced the Viper V-10–powered “Sniper” ’54 Plymouth Savoy for Poteet in the late 1990s. Alloway’s Hot Rod Shop in Tennessee built a matching pair of black ’61 Fords for him—a Sunliner convertible and Starliner hardtop—both powered by SOHC 427 engines.

    Rolling Bones Hot Rod Shop in upstate New York created a lakes-style chopped ’34 Ford coupe for Poteet. “It’s definitely one of our most signature builds,” says Keith Cornell, a partner in the shop. “Working for George raises anyone’s profile at least a little.” "

    “I have never had anybody I didn’t like building cars for me,” Poteet tells us. “I try to deal with people who have the same values that I got. Like those kids in Arizona, Hot Rods by Dean. I wouldn’t hesitate a second to take a car to them. Andy in Nebraska [of CAL Automotive Creations] is a good kid.” Poteet’s explicit goal is to foster the next generation of hot-rod builders.

    “I’ve accomplished pretty much everything anyone could dream of accomplishing,” he says. “I don’t get off in getting big awards anymore. I’m in it for other people now.”

    So, while most of us will never get out of a car what we have in it... I think that we all have a bit of George in us, we don't really do it for profit (hell, i would be happy to break even once and awhile) we do it to support an industry/hobby that we love, we do it to keep our sanity, we do it for comradery, we do it for nostalgia, to keep alive a happier simpler time... gasp!! dare i say an escape. And those things in any combination are priceless.
  3. The37Kid
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 27,116


    Thank you Chappy444 .

    Fordor Ron likes this.
  4. If you want to make money from cars becomes a top notch salesman at a legitimate car dealership. Or becomes a real mechanic one good enough to work for yourself, then do not open a shop rent a space from someone else who has opened a shop and work on high end cars. Like Maserati or Bentley, high end cars.

    If you are playin hot rods and customs for money you are pretty basically whistling in the wind. We do this for fun.
    belair, zzford, clem and 8 others like this.
  5. jimmy six
    Joined: Mar 21, 2006
    Posts: 6,401

    jimmy six

    That's why Fathomworks is more realistic. They just had a Show where a California Special Mustang was in its 636 day and when meeting with a coustomer they say the hours and parts costs at times. We don't know their hourly fee but we all have an idea.
    loudbang and Fordor Ron like this.
  6. Sky Six
    Joined: Mar 15, 2018
    Posts: 1,511

    Sky Six
    from Arizona

    For me, its got nothing to do with money. I enjoy building the car or bike and enjoying the fun times after its done. I know my limits financially and I stay within my budget.
    As far as a show car, If it needs a trailer...I don't need it.
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2019
  7. The37Kid
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 27,116


    I can't think of another shop that can front the 636 days of labor and parts then have the balls to hand the customer the bill for the total due. Even less believable is the owner just saying he wants to go for a ride while still smiling. :confused::confused::confused::confused::confused:

    Last edited: Feb 19, 2019
  8. Sky Six
    Joined: Mar 15, 2018
    Posts: 1,511

    Sky Six
    from Arizona

    Just a quick OT question...
    On the Futurian, what is the little chrome circular piece in the left rear inner fender well
  9. Fordors
    Joined: Sep 22, 2016
    Posts: 2,765


    OK, I stand corrected. I went to the MotorTrend channel and fast forwarded through season 1, episode 1 of “Handbuilt Hot Rods” and I did misquote the body and fender guy. He had 100 hours in both the front and rear bumpers and needed “about 20 more” to complete them. That still makes them $3K apiece to reshape them to flow better with the body. In their words they were nip and tucked.
    If you don’t believe this I imagine you will be skeptical of the $100,000 and up paint jobs on AMBR, or Ridler Award competitors cars also. It is a different world out there when it comes to top show winners.
  10. This is a fun subject. We have to realize this is a stupid, stupid thing we do. We don't need old cars and trucks to survive and live. We spend the time and money on these things because we like/love it and have a passion for it. When someone goes to a shop to build a car it shouldn't be to build a car they plan on trying to make money from or as an "investment". It should be because they're blessed financially, have a passion for cars (or a car) & want to partner with a shop to build something special.
  11. woodiewagon46
    Joined: Mar 14, 2013
    Posts: 1,650

    from New York

    Along with the "show car" that most will never drive, a trailer is needed to move the car from show to show and a vehicle to tow the trailer. In the off season you need a place to store your trailer. I never could figure out why someone would spend upwards of $500K for something that will sit in a garage most of it's life. My wife calls it the "BDS", the big d**c syndrome. Whoever spends the most and doesn't use the car has the bragging rights. Back in the early '60s, I was racing my Corvette every weekend and the lightbulb suddenly went off. I realized I was putting all this money into racing and beating up my car for some cheap ass trophy. Never went back!
  12. I have a close friend that builds cars for a living. He also does body work to fund his business and has been in business since before I finished high school. I asked him a few years back what it cost to build a Ridler car. He said, "Well this years winner cost 1.5 Million to build so I guess more than 1.5 million."

    My dad told me when I was a very young man that the only way to recoupe my investment in the kind of cars and bikes that I like was to drive it out of them. I do what I do because its fun, when it stops being fun I'll stop doing it.
    jimgoetz, loudbang, Tim and 7 others like this.
  13. The37Kid
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 27,116


    That quote could be cast in bronze and hung on your shop wall. I got to work at a shop that had one guy in the 13 years it was there that had all three, the money, the passion, and a drop dead good looking automobile a 166 Ferrari. You couldn't help but like the guy and the car. His goal was to win his class at Pebble Beach, we tried, but came in Second. Bob
  14. Ha ha ha. Make money on a show car.....thats funny....
    loudbang, Fordor Ron, czuch and 3 others like this.
  15. Hombre
    Joined: Aug 22, 2008
    Posts: 1,029


    You know these HAMB guys have pretty much have this covered. I agree with many, many of the above post's. If you are doing this for any reason other than fun ( that being the fun of the build itself, or for the fun of owning and driving your Hot Rod) you are probably a damn fool.

    I do believe that years ago when the rare big time car show would come to town, that the promoter of that show did in fact pay some amount of Contingency or show up money to some of the Nationally known show cars. That was to add to the number of folks the came to the show, a draw if you will. I don't think that was a lot of money or to, to many of the cars just a few.

    Everything we do does not have to be for the purpose of making money. Some times it just has to be for fun. I have a buddy from my Corps days who is a big golfer. I asked him if he knew how much money he had spent on playing golf. He had been playing for at least 35 years or so, and he said while he had never added up the cost he would guess that he had spent in excess of a $100,000 on the sport. He did that for the love of the game ( I don't understand it I mean its golf, but he feels that same way about my Hot Rods) He does it because he enjoys playing golf I guess.

    I don't care how much money is involved with my Hot Rods, if I have it and it doesn't interfere with my life in some negative way I spend it. If I don't have it at the time I don't. For me its pure and simple, FUN.
    patmanta, clunker, jimgoetz and 4 others like this.
  16. saltracer219
    Joined: Sep 23, 2006
    Posts: 750


    Or just keep it and enjoy it.
    clem and jimgoetz like this.
  17. Moriarity
    Joined: Apr 11, 2001
    Posts: 18,189

    Staff Member

    it is the fuel fill. it is a flush fit marine item.....
    saltracer219 likes this.
  18. What you need to remember is in the Showcar heyday of the '60s, there were guys that made it pay, even without the model-car tie-in. Some of those cars were display items only, non-running. Empty engine blocks/transmissions/blowers, little or no brake/fuel plumbing or wiring. Carl Casper seemed to be the biggest offender; I recall one of his cars at a show that had no crankshaft, just an empty hole in the timing cover. If you skip all the work/costs of actually making it a functional vehicle, they could be much cheaper to build. Get the car featured in a mag, then collect the appearance money for a year or two, they could make out.

    The other thing I've often wondered about was how many of these cars got free or heavily discounted parts. There was a period on the late '60s where it seemed like every showcar had super-wide Cragar SS wheels on them, it almost had to be a promotional deal. I wouldn't be surprised if this was true for other bits too...
    loudbang and Fordor Ron like this.
  19. Rusty O'Toole
    Joined: Sep 17, 2006
    Posts: 9,166

    Rusty O'Toole

    At some point a hot rod or custom turns into a work of art. You don't take one of Picasso's hand woven rugs and throw it on the floor, you hang it on the wall and admire it. Same with custom cars. Car shows are like art galleries. Custom cars are a form of sculpture built to fit a set of rules as rigid as a sonnet. Tom Wolfe was the first person from the art world to recognize this, in Kandy Kolor Tangerine Flake Streamline Baby.
    When you look at it this way spending a million dollars to commission something really spectacular doesn't seem so crazy, if you have the money it is no different than spending a million on a painting or other art work. It sure beats the hell out of some crappy soup can.
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2019
    patmanta, jimgoetz, loudbang and 4 others like this.
  20. The Shift Wizard
    Joined: Jan 10, 2017
    Posts: 1,958

    The Shift Wizard

    Building a show car yourself, you really can't say your labor didn't cost anything and you made a profit.
    Paying big bucks for a "well known" builder/shop to build a show car doesn't guarantee you a profit.
    Buying a previously built car for half the cost might let you break even someday if the Fates smile on you.
    It all good to call them "Art" but they tend to hold their value more like Arts and Crafts. Highrollers are rare.
    Restored racecars (versus vintage customs) do seem to pan out as good investments IF they were winners of well-known races with well-known drivers. Buyers want that provenance and will pay up.
    Show cars don't have the buyers lined up, 6 deep, yet. Maybe someday.
    For now, you can put lipstick on a Ford or a Chevy, but it's still a Ford or Chevy.
    jimgoetz and Fordor Ron like this.
  21. mgtstumpy
    Joined: Jul 20, 2006
    Posts: 8,059


    There is a car being built down under now that I've seen (OT Ford Falcon) and it's been confirmed that to date it owes him close to $AUD1M and there's still paint, electrical and trim. Exceptional craftsmanship however the owner must have deep pockets! There are a lot of trophy hunters around.
    loudbang and Fordor Ron like this.
  22. It is a passion. Build a car of your dreams to your mechanical ability and style.
    IF you sell it you have to come to the realization that if you get the cost of the parts
    out of it your are ahead. Someone mentioned parting it is a custom and every part on its has been massaged or modified for a specific application, unless you can sell the (working) driveline.
    Fordor Ron likes this.
  23. Well, not necessarily make money. I’m talking about not taking a bath or at least breaking even.

    Just something to consider before you dive off the deep end.

    I thought this thread might get in the wind. And, looks like it did.
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2019
    loudbang likes this.
  24. Slopok
    Joined: Jan 30, 2012
    Posts: 2,552


    All it takes is to watch an episode of Barrett-Jackson to see that most of the cars & trucks sold in most cases cannot be built for what they sell for. Show car or not.
  25. RDR
    Joined: May 30, 2009
    Posts: 1,352


    Remember reading as a high school kid, the article on Roths' 'Outlaw' build..and him saying he had 500 Bucks in the build....Did a lot of horse trading, had his used parts stash, and did his own labor.
    That always impressed the point of, "If he can do it, I can do it !"...NOT...But it was always an incentive to TRY.
    On a different note after a move...I boxed up my Rod Run shirts from years of shows and there had to be 150- 200 shirts....Now at $20-$25 per show entry, That would buy quite a few parts... There is NO payback ...BUT it is FOR THE LOVE of the HOBBY, and Thankfully someone is still putting on shows ! Outlaw.jpg
    The37Kid likes this.
  26. anthony myrick
    Joined: Sep 4, 2009
    Posts: 5,830

    anthony myrick

    Worked on many 6 figure cars and a couple 7 figure cars
    The owners do it for fun. It’s s hobby like golf I even had one guy put it to me that way. Some people just have deep enough pockets to play like that.
    It’s all perspective.
    Even knew a guy that had a custom Hatteras off shore fishing boat built but without all the fishing gear. He just liked the way they looked and could care less about fishing.
    Fordor Ron, VANDENPLAS and The37Kid like this.
  27. X-cpe
    Joined: Mar 9, 2018
    Posts: 951


    Maybe not, but they sure make it a lot more pleasant.

    I learned this wasn't a money making deal when, as a kid, I saw the ads in the back of Hot Rod Magazine.
    $$$$ invested, sell for $$$.
  28. Three Widow's Garage
    Joined: Jan 18, 2010
    Posts: 206

    Three Widow's Garage

    I would think a car that wins one or more of the big shows and get the attention and coverage would probably keep its value down the road, all the runners up not as much. Ridler winner 1 million + the rest of the great 8 must be in the same ballpark no bragging rights other than almost.
    Fordor Ron likes this.
  29. Marcosmadness
    Joined: Dec 19, 2010
    Posts: 353

    from California

    I used to race with a guy that was a vice president of an international electronics company. Obviously , he had enough money to do pretty much as he pleased with his racing "hobby". One day I was telling him about how much money it was costing me to race and his advice was "you never want to do the sums". So even the "well off" car enthusiast doesn't want to know how much money he is spending to indulge his hobby. We all, rich and poor, do it for the fun.
    williebill, Fordor Ron and loudbang like this.
  30. nochop
    Joined: Nov 13, 2005
    Posts: 1,594

    from norcal

    Do you remember building model cars? Yeah just like that
    williebill and Fordor Ron like this.

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