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New guy needs Hot Rod buying advice

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Greasyman, Dec 22, 2013.

  1. Greasyman
    Joined: Oct 23, 2010
    Posts: 172

    Greasyman
    Member

    I've noticed that there are a few running and driving rods up for sale for under $10k now and then. Mostly T-Buckets and other simple styles. I've been looking at ads, but I don't really know what to look for when checking out cars, what's important and what isn't, how to tell a good car from a not so good car.

    I know about cars in general, I'm 55 years old and have been doing run of the mill shade tree wrenching since I was in my teens, but I don't know the finer points of rods.

    Any advice about things like frames, suspension, steering boxes, bodies, etcetera would be very helpful. I have questions like is an original frame better than aftermarket? If aftermarket how can I tell a quality one from crap? Is real steel always preferable to a plastic body? Are some steering boxes preferable to others, and other questions about the fine and not so fine points of basic rod construction. Thanks for any and all help.
     
  2. Make sure frame is boxed and strong. check out cross members and various mounts carefully:D
     
  3. Squablow
    Joined: Apr 26, 2005
    Posts: 14,846

    Squablow
    Member

    Can you post pics of some examples? It's kinda hard to give any general advice, but if we can see the cars and the price, it should be pretty easy to tell if you're getting a deal or the shaft.
     
  4. I agree! Pics would be nice in order to form opinions and give advice.
     

  5. 1955IHC
    Joined: Aug 20, 2013
    Posts: 636

    1955IHC
    Member

    Way to vague.



    Sent via Illinois Bell Telephone Company's Car Radiotelephone
     
  6. Smitty's32
    Joined: Dec 31, 2011
    Posts: 131

    Smitty's32
    Member

    Making an informed decision about the quality of a build will require a huge learning curve to get you up to speed. My advice is to grab a knowledgable friend you can trust and take him along to look over the car. If you don't know anybody like that, pay a guy from a reputable shop to go along with you and give an opinion. In the long run, a few bucks spent that way can save you huge amounts of money and headaches later. Same advice goes for any major purchase that's outside your normal area of expertise.
     
  7. I would suggest you find a group of guys that have been around the old car hobby for a long time,,they can see things you can't or don't know what to look for.

    T Buckets are cool but they are not for every one,If you have any physical limitations I would suggest looking for a car with working doors,,some T's have a working door.

    Go to a few cruise ins and ask questions,,a informed buyer is a smart buyer. HRP
     
  8. jimmy1931
    Joined: Jan 13, 2012
    Posts: 728

    jimmy1931
    Member

    Look at pics in my ad for '31. This is a quality build.
     
  9. big duece
    Joined: Jul 28, 2008
    Posts: 6,120

    big duece
    Member
    from kansas

    Getting a title for year of make will be difficult for an aftermarket frame, especially in California. Always TRY to find original frame and steel body, if possible.
     
  10. Rickybop
    Joined: May 23, 2008
    Posts: 6,959

    Rickybop
    Member
    from Michigan

    Of course, there are particulars to hot rods, but they generally aren't too much different than any other car as far as what to look for. A good long test drive over bumpy and uneven roads and some time sitting and idling will tell you a lot. Put it through its paces. Give it a chance to overheat if it's inclined to. Pay attention to braking, steering, engine, trans, etc. Check to see what truly works and what doesn't...lights, heater, windows, gages, etc. Take a magnet with a soft tip (no scratching) that's designed to check for bondo on a steel body. And ya gotta get underneath with a bright light to get a good look for rust and crappy fabrication. Take a floor jack and some stands and jack 'er up good and high so you can see. Stand on the kick panel to check for flex or weakness. Look at panel gaps and how smoothly or not the doors open and close. Chips and cracks in the glass...especially in hard-to-replace curved glass. You know what to look for. But the idea is, if after you think you've found a good one...then (as mentioned) get someone with experience (who you've already lined up) to come around to give 'er a real good look.

    Even some experienced buyers have been burned a time or two. It's usually due to paying more attention to your emotional response to a car than to the actual facts concerning its condition. In many cases, if you asked them after the fact, they'd say they kind of knew better. So pay attention to your gut instinct about the overall condition, and try not to be dictated by your emotions too much. Be aware...be factual...be honest with yourself. Don't gloss over problems, thinking "Oh, I can maybe take care of that issue later." Lots of cars out there...hold out for a good one.

    And get some experienced help. Good luck.

    Edit: I meant to say, check the rocker panels for weakness...not the "kick" panels. Duh.
     
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2013
  11. Greasyman
    Joined: Oct 23, 2010
    Posts: 172

    Greasyman
    Member

  12. Wedgehead426
    Joined: Sep 20, 2013
    Posts: 114

    Wedgehead426
    Member

  13. TANNERGANG
    Joined: Jan 18, 2011
    Posts: 1,269

    TANNERGANG
    Member
    from alabama

    Make friends with someone at the local Cruise Ins and talk to them about what you intend to use the car for...if your just going to drive around locally to Cruise Ins, Gassers are a Blast...but not good to drive 50 miles or more to events..(I know some are, but most are not)...Since I've been into Hot Rods, Street Rods etc since 1971...traveling from Alabama to National Events all over the country...I have NEVER passed a Pro Street Willys driving down the Interstate except one that had a trailer within 20 miles of where I saw it......don't know if they ride or drive bad or what, but that's been my observation....Buy something you can drive cross country and then you can drive it anywhere..local or national......and buy what you want...NOT WHAT YOUR NEIGHBOR or RUNNING BUDDY wants.........and enjoy the heck out of it.
     
  14. Best advice yet! HRP
     
  15. Squablow
    Joined: Apr 26, 2005
    Posts: 14,846

    Squablow
    Member

    The drivetrain really hurts this example, but the price seems good to me, around here they'd be asking twice that. If you're cool with a 4.3L V6, and if the frame/suspension is built nice, that one has potential, with some detail stuff sorted out.
     
  16. rustyironman
    Joined: Mar 26, 2011
    Posts: 471

    rustyironman
    Member

    My suggestions, look at build quality and how well the build was thought out as a 'whole'. You don't have to be an expert on rods to look at build quality or how it was thought out.

    - How are the welds? If they look like chicken-poop, walk away.

    - If the steering setup has 5 U-joints in it to clear stuff, walk away.

    - If the headers were dinged-in with a hammer to clear something, walk away.

    Be really leery of any custom body work that was done where seams or joints were filled in. Usually its a sign of lots of bondo.

    Also, hate to say this, but if the car your looking at is in primer, ask yourself, is there a reason it didn't get finished with glossy paint. I've seen many a guy cheap out and quit with primer because the body wasn't straight enough to finish paint, and problems don't show as much in primer.

    Also, does the build look congruent, or just like an assemblage of parts somebody happened to have laying around. It really bugs me to see a build, where instead of building to a vision, the final product was dictated by a hodge-podge put together.

    As for that 27 T link you posted, I'm just not seeing $6,500 of value there. The newer V6 engine is a real minus, and the wheelbase of the thing just doesn't make it look well thought out.
     
  17. I think you can do alot better than that for under 10 grand. Squawblow is right about the drive train,not very desireable. If you've got some wrenching experience find an unfinished project and start learning how to build a hot rod, this is a good place to get alot of helpful advice. About 6 years ago I built this. It took me 2 years to build and I've got under $15,000.00 in receipts. So I'm sure you could build something in your price range, and then it's "yours".
     

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  18. summersshow
    Joined: Mar 3, 2013
    Posts: 899

    summersshow
    Member
    from NC

    My best advice I can give you... Find someone trustworthy that works on hotrods and take them with you to look at cars... Its easy to get screwed if you dont know what your looking for.
     
  19. 53fopar
    Joined: Sep 3, 2013
    Posts: 10

    53fopar
    Member

    A 4.3 Chevy V6 with EFI and auto doesn't qualify as a hot rod in my book.
     
  20. big duece
    Joined: Jul 28, 2008
    Posts: 6,120

    big duece
    Member
    from kansas

    Would it have to meet 1995 emission tests? Do some shopping around, and dont buy the 1st one you see.
     
  21. Rickybop
    Joined: May 23, 2008
    Posts: 6,959

    Rickybop
    Member
    from Michigan

    Ya gonna fit in that little thing? If you wanna drive it much, you better be comfortable...or young...lol. I guess with something like that, you'll not only be putting the car through its paces, but yourself too. And then see how you feel afterward. Hopefully, neither the car or you are too "rickety".
     
  22. badnabor
    Joined: Sep 8, 2010
    Posts: 22

    badnabor
    Member

    Alot of good advice. It's just like buying anything used, buyer beware! It would be hard to pinpoint any one thing to look for. What I can live with and what you can live with might me two totally different things.
     
  23. you are asking the impossible....like asking someone else to pick you a woman..
     
  24. rustyironman
    Joined: Mar 26, 2011
    Posts: 471

    rustyironman
    Member

    That is too funny!
     
  25. indyjps
    Joined: Feb 21, 2007
    Posts: 4,091

    indyjps
    Member

    Different people's definition of quality will vary greatly. Test drive and second opinion from a local shop that knows rods will help greatly.
     
  26. Rob68
    Joined: Jun 16, 2011
    Posts: 495

    Rob68
    Member

    Looks to me like that car is the kind of car you look at to get an idea of what not to do. Bide your time, you will find the right car. Do a shit ton of research right here on the HAMB, read as many build threads and "what does this thing do" kind of threads as you can. I've learned so much here and as you can see, the guys here are always willing to give you great (if not sometimes harsh) advice. Take it. It will help when the time to buy comes.
    Rob68

    Edit: I'm definitely no expert (just a shade tree hack as it were) but I really believe this site is a gold mine and will really help you learn as much or as little as you like.
    Rob68
     
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2013
  27. Gman0046
    Joined: Jul 24, 2005
    Posts: 6,260

    Gman0046
    Member

    The only buying advice I ever give is to only buy something you can sell. A 32-40 Ford coupe or a Tri 5 Chevy for two examples. If you buy something like a 48 Dodge four door sedan you may own it forever. If your like me, my taste in cars change rapidly over the years. I've had and built cars I thought I wanted only to get tired of them real fast and built something else.
     
  28. raprap
    Joined: Oct 8, 2009
    Posts: 768

    raprap
    Member
    from Ohio

    I've been where you are now. I think there are a lot of folks in your boat that want a cool ride but don't want to get taken to the cleaners or way over their head. Number one, don't watch these TV shows on how they take a wreck and turn it into a slick looking ride in 45 minutes. They are all fake as real builders on this site know. Finding a local buddy or joining a club can really help. There are thousands of great rides out there and plenty to choose from. If you are on a budget, then you probably won't get your first choice with all the things you are looking for, Great looking, good driving, reliability as these are far and few. Be patient, do your homework and be ready to accept something that will need some personalization. I bought my coupe from a guy who restored a stock model then put it away in storage for 15 years. It was a solid original and a "clean" canvas for me.
    Buying someone else's interpretation was not my cup of tea, but getting a solid original and making your own was. Your choice. Get a done car and pay more or do it your way and pay the same or more. The later is way more rewarding.
     
  29. Mr48chev
    Joined: Dec 28, 2007
    Posts: 28,521

    Mr48chev
    ALLIANCE MEMBER


    Good advice right there. The buy something or even build something that you can sell.

    The little T that you showed looks like a ok little entry level car but as it is it may be difficult to sell or trade off if you decide it isn't the car you want to keep. With the V6 and the way the chassis is set up it's the kind of car you don't invest a lot of money in after you buy it as it's probably close to maxed out as far as price goes. a nice paint job and decent interior might add value but much more than that isn't going to boost the resale when it comes time to move on to something else. It does look like a fun little cruise night buggy to hit the burger joints on cruise night with but it most likely isn't one you want to drive for hours on end to far flung bucket list events.
     
  30. Fat47
    Joined: Nov 10, 2007
    Posts: 1,260

    Fat47
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    All good advice, but I would add, hold off buying until you see a better cross section of cars and talk with a lot of rodders. GO to the Grand National Roadster show the last of January (only a month away) on Sat. You will see lots of roadsters and lots of local cars on Sat. Meet up with some HAMBer's and tag along with them, ask questions get some reactions to cars you think you like. There are generally 30-40 HAMB members that meet up on Sat at the show.
     

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