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Old 02-05-2008, 06:29 AM
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Costs of rodding, rat rods, time wasting...

Had an interesting conversation with a long time friend and fellow home-builder rodder yesterday. He'd helped me roll the beads in my "bomber" seats, I had dropped off a little gift in return for his help and tools. The conversation drifted onto the costs of building a car, as we're both in the midst of building new ones.

He's building a 'glass, full fendered Cabriolet that he and his wife bought as an unfinished, but nearly complete, car. I'm building the '36 "Fordillac" roadster that I've been boring everyone here with in my jounal. His car has all the usual "catalogue" bits and pieces, I'm sure the total retail cost would be nudging 30K. I have, right now, about $2,100 in the '36, and I was sort of complaining that when I get the bill(s) for engine parts, machine work and trans, that my cost will double, and that it looks like I'll end up around 5K all done.

He clapped his hand over his chest, ala' Fred Sanford, staggered backwards a couple of steps and laughed. "I'll spend more than that putting mine together!", he said. We quickly ran thru what it costs to plumb, wire, upholster and paint a car, to modern standards, and I realized he's right.

Now, my car will be finished to the same level as his, and since we both do all our own work, the cost SHOULD be the same, but they won't. I'll plumb mine with hardware and auto parts store copper gas and steel brake lines, he'll use stainless, and fancy clamps. I'll wire mine with an old fuse panel and switches I saved from other projects, and some linen wrapped wire, where he'll use a purchased harness. I'm salvaging the top material from the donor Sebring, he has to buy a Boptop or another repro cabriolet set of bows, and then a Haartz top. My bomber seats cost 40 bucks, and I have about 10 times the amount of upholstery fabric I'll need, 'cause I bought it with half off coupon at JoAnns Fabrics, figuring I'll need more of it for something. He'll buy a TEA seat, door panels, carpets, yards of Dynamat, and on and on.

He then surprised me by saying that he actually likes my car better, isn't really all that enthused now about his project, that mine will be much more noticed at events, and probably more fun (it'll certainly be more uncomfortable, louder and faster!).

I've been thinking about this since, and I think it says something about the state of rodding, and the popularity of (I really hate the term) "Rat Rods". I don't mean cars intentionally built to look scary, junky, and unfinished, which really are "Rat Turds". I mean cars built at home, with the parts and pieces available, which simply aren't "show" cars. I'm leaving pro built "rat rods" out, 'cause if a person writes a check for someone to build them a car that looks like it was just dragged out of a shed, they need their head examined.

I've always built cars with what I had available, and did everything at home. I've never had a car featured in national mag, but I have had photos of several of my cars at events published in national mags, which is flattering. His car will be lost in sea of nice, new 'glass and steel repro bodied cars, all roughly the same in their owners efforts to be "different". (I have overheard some negative comments about, for instance, the S-10 steering wheel in my '48 Pontiac convert, but, I had it, it steers the car, and right now I'd rather spend the 200 bucks for a prettier, more appropriate looking wheel for something for the '36. I'll get to the details in the next 34 years I own the car.) I'm sure he's right about my car being more noticable, it will be different, something hard to do now with a '36 Ford.

The popularity of what everyone is calling "Rat Rods" is a rebellion in what was orginally an expression of rebellion called "Hot Rodding". Odd, Hot Rods have become so mainstream, so conservative that there's a whole sub culture within the hobby rebelling against the mainstream. Even odder, it's SO popular now that checkbook rodders are paying pro builders to build high dollar cars to look like the builder can't really build a car. It's funny when you think about it. At least, I thought it was funny.

This whole, long winded, train of thought ends up with what I like about this site. It's amazing to me to see the project journal entries every day (I really do check every day), and see what people are doing themselves. I'm amazed with every one. It's really focused on doing things yourself, the backstory behind the cars I see in the summer at cruise nights and weekend events. I really do think it's inspired me to do a little bit better job on my project, and to rethink some of my original ideas about the direction of the build.

In summation (LOL, if anyone's read this far!) keep it up! Make it yourself, scrounge around, don't spend the kids shoe money or mortgage payment on a car, and keep posting pic's of all the cool projects!


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Old 02-05-2008, 07:16 AM
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Amen Brother

I couldn'y agree more with you. Some of the personal touches get lost in the loss of invention. I used to hear stories from my grandfather where he talked about having to make parts from scratch, not 'cause it was cheaper, but 'cause nobody made it. I can't see one of the folks building a rod now telling their grandchildren about the hours spent opening boxes to get the perfect part. Doing it yourself makes it personal.
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Old 02-05-2008, 07:26 AM
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I built both my 62 and 51 about 15 to 20 years ago..........I have about $3000 in each...all done at home.

It's fine if you can afford all that fancy stuff, but you can have just as much fun doing it the other way...........Some of us just don't have that kind of money. I think that is why the rat rod thing is so popular these days, although some of them do get a bit stupid about it when it comes to safety stuff.
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Old 02-05-2008, 07:29 AM
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I agree also. I do as much of my own building as possible, which is most of it, because to me that is fun and when I go to shows I have the advantage of answering questions like,Where did you buy the frame?, with I built it myself from scratch.I also like Ratrods but believe you can build a ratrod without it being ratty, in other words a safe well built car that is in the style of old school rods when rodding first began with young people short on money doing the best they could.
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Old 02-05-2008, 09:02 AM
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Everyone should feel great about what they choose to build and how & what to buy for it.

There's lots of people finally building something that they have had in their mind for years, or maybe wanted as a teen.
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Old 02-05-2008, 09:19 AM
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I totally agree with F&J. I built my car from a frame and an empty shell to a kind-of-street/almost-strip car that I have today. My car isn't pretty, it is two different colors, no bodywork or paint job yet, and its missing a rear door panel. Most of the car is built with summit, ebay, and swap meet parts, so its not like its completely custom or anything. But you know what? I built for ME, by ME. I don't care if there's five other 70 Chevelles at the cruise spot, none are the same. If theres ten Cabriolets that have small block chevys and are all glass, so what? They are a vision of what the owner had in his head six months ago when he wrote a check to the car builder or six years ago when he bought a half-finished wreck from the back woods of Georgia.
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Old 02-05-2008, 11:11 AM
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Cost of rodding,rat rods,time wasting..??

Priceless.... Not to mention

And all the other pleasures of this hobby..

I have tried most all of it and now do what is known to work..
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Old 02-26-2008, 09:24 PM
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Cost of Rodding

What sometimes bugs me about some of you guys is that many of you talk about rat rods, high dollar cars or how you built everything yourself. Some of us can not write that check, or we don't have the talent that many of you have. So when I say "bugs me" I mean that I truly admire your talents and wish I could build the frame but I'm working on it a little at a time.

What is the real difference between most of you and a pro builder? Most of you are very talented in a number of ways and if you focused in one area, you could fit into any of the categories required to build a Ridler winner. That just have many of you working on the cars for the them.

What I have done is purchase some of the parts that I have not yet developed the talent to make or because of other committments, I have not had the time or interest to devote to tracking down. It has taken me much longer to build the cars that I have had. I must admit that much of the work has been done by friends. These friends have encouraged me and taught me so many things. I just lost one of these very good friends, Dave Gale, several months ago. He owned Curbside and Just a Hobby before he sold it to Barry Lobeck and is well known by many people. Because of these friends, I have been involved and enjoyed a passion for a hobby that began on a baseball field in the late 50's when I heard the old Freight Train start up. I installed my first Mustang II front suspension and a new rear spring set up in my 39 Chevy in the past year. I will start to rewire the car in about 2-3 weeks.
To make sure it is clear to some of you guys, I admire and respect the talents you have. I'll continue to improve my skills so that I to will one day be able to say, I built the whole thing myself. By the way, my next car will be a 29 Ford full fendered roadster and I will be able to say that I built it myself.
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Old 02-27-2008, 08:03 AM
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I really like your distinction between "Rat Rods" and "Rat Turds". It's pretty disgusting to see the latter -- just groupies putting on a fashion show in junk.
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Old 02-27-2008, 08:10 AM
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"...the popularity of (I really hate the term) "Rat Rods"."

Many of us also object to that term and prefer to call our rods "traditional".
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Old 02-28-2008, 01:36 AM
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personal touch.

I have always build my own cars. I have built some that weren't "pretty" but always ran very good and I always paid attention to safety. My next vehicle will be a "Rat Rod" truck. I already have the frame and cab. I really like the rat rod concept. One thing I can't stand is that even if it is a Rat Rod, there is no reason that the Vehicle should not be safe. I have looked at many rat rods to get ideas for my own build and I am sometimes amazed by the lack of either knowledge or negligence in adhering to safety. Ive actually seen a craftsmen swivel socket used for a steering Joint! If this is not you, then don't be offended. You Old timers surely know what I am talking about. I have seen some of these vehicles with with obvious steering, suspension or brake concerns. There simply is no excuse for not building a safe car, it doesn't matter what You spent on it, If it's on the road with me, please build it safe!
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Old 02-28-2008, 06:21 AM
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I prefer to refer to them as ...

"TRADITIONAL" Hotrods, like we built back when we were kids and didnt have the money to buy new performance cars. The cost of the hobby for most folks has really gotten out of hand. Build them old school and drive em!
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Old 08-22-2009, 02:08 AM
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48 biz coupe

flying B, your thread sounds like something I would write if I had your talent for putting words together,its everything I feel and more.The rat rod rebelion opened my eyes a bit.I never really thought of it that way.I just build because I love building,I look at a car and I see what needs changing to be cooler then I change it.Doing all these changes on beautiful origal cars would be so wrong on so many levels I dont even want to go there So I buy Rusted out old hulks and get them free or cheap sometimes all I need to get an old car is a chainsaw and a smile I might even cut that tree coming up through the engine compartment into fire wood size,that makes the owner very happy.they might even think .....this guys crazy... till a few years later when I pull back up in a fire breathing ratrod saying hi mr. soandso, Do you remember me.......the guy that cut that old car out of the woods ? I thought you might like to see it again....usualy they say sure when would be a good time? it is....I build cars MY cars for fun (I love it) I've been working as a paint and bodyman for 35 years.I bought a 55 chevy at 14 for fifty dollars no motor or trany I worked on that car every dayafter school it wasnt long before all the kids in the neiborhood were at my house helping.then at 16 I bought a 57 chevy my friends an I built it and drove it everywhere I got a job at a body shop and I ve been doing it ever since. The car Im finishing up I built without buying anything That was the only rule,all the parts came off other cars having a junkyard outback of my body shop really helps. the onlt thing I bought other than the price of the car was materials ,migwire gas paint materials,etc...its a48 ply biz coupe........heres a pic....since I'm very new to the computor and its getting late ,I'll come back later and finish my story by hitting edit...I'm sure theres a better way I just dont know it But I got to work with what I got.I hope I'm not boring you,but the interestingpart is comming I promice. this is my car when I bought it,its driveable now but not done I have 1,000.00 into it and mabee 10,000 hrs now you could cheat and look up my posts to see other pics but there old too.I'll be back with more.....Mike O.
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Old 08-22-2009, 08:40 AM
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there are no rules.............. and prior to 1969 there was no such thing as a streetrod .
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Old 08-22-2009, 09:02 AM
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rats VS credit cards.

I'am getting closer to the big 70 every day. and as others have said before we used to have to build most of the stuff our selves. so I still do. I took a street rod fabrication class at UVU a couple of years ago and a lot of the kids there wanted to have their own shops and they tended to look down on guys that didn't do anything but trailer the car from shop to shop until they had "Built" their car. The instructor reminded them the because of the big buck guys there are a lot more opportunities for them to be building rods than fixing wrecked new cars. I was at the college car show a couple of years ago and a 16 year old kid won the people's choice award. He was there all day explaining how he built the 27 roadster with a straight 8 and only spent $ 2000 total. a guy next to him that had just spent $80 k on a 32 was really P_O ed that he didn't win anything. It's about doing what we like and respecting the other guys !!
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