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Old 02-04-2006, 11:40 AM
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The simplicity of rodding?

There was a time when rodding wasnít an industry, when rodding wasnít marketing based on multi-million dollar enterprising. There was a time when rodding was a hobby, picked up by a few young men eager to go faster. In that time, rodding was simple and affordable, and ingenuitive. There werenít a lot of off the shelf products available. People used what they had to make what they didnít have. As years went off the hobby really took off. Race inspired common people started building better and faster and cooler rods out of their home garages. It wasnít to go fast anymore, but also to look good and have a unique ride. It wasnít a low buck hobby like stamp collecting, but it wasnít a high buck hobby like flying either. Over the years, the rodding industry grew, until it bloomed into what we have today. Tons of magazines, tons of aftermarket retailers, tons of repro parts producers etc. The simplicity of rodding faded away over the years. From souped up model A bangers and supercharged flatties to fully EFI Corvette motors and crate engines. Rolling chassisí available for a mere 9 grand and fibreglass repops for a cool 7 grand is considered cheap. Now, donít get me wrong, I have nothing against aftermarket frames and fibreglass bodiesÖif you have the money and thatís your thing than good for you, enjoy in your high dollar luxury billetmobile. If I had the money, Iíd do the same thing and drive it with a smile. But I donít. Reading an older issue of Steet Rod Builder there was an article on how to build a rod for under $40k. I was amazed at how they portrayed it to be cheap. The used aftermarket frame, body, crate engine, outsourced paint and interior, billet wheels and brand new rear end and front end IRS. I put the mag down feeling pretty darn depressed. Howís a young buck like me síposed to afford that right? Point is, I donít need 40 grand, nor does anyone else. But the mags donít tell you that. You never see a car that was built for 10grand, with the stock frame and suspension just updated and boxed, with a home paint job and a rebuilt engine from a junkyard. It seems like most people donít wanna put in the sweat and work anymore. Why build a rod if you can glue it together with off the shelf parts? Do the big rodding companies care about keeping the hobby alive? Or about you? Or do they only care about how much monoey they can drain out of you with all the new fancy accessories. And now the car trailer companies are in it tooÖhow many trailers do you see at the Nats? Werenít rods supposed to be drivers? I donít see how show cars can be considered rods if theyíve never seen the open road, if they havenít endured long mile trips and have never felt the rain against their color sanded buffed out candy apple red paint jobÖIf a guy like me wants to build a rod for reasonably cheap, its toughÖwhy? Because the high price that restorers have put on parts, and the high price Chassis Engineering can charge to their retired rich customers , and the high price Heidts can charge for their shiny MustangII IFS to people willing to pay that much to slap on their super-rodsÖthatís why. All the hope thatís left for us is swap meets, and classifieds. And theres plenty of people building way cool rods but way less amount of money. They use homemade tools, make their own replacement panels out of scrap sheet metal, pull their MustangII out of an actual mustang, yank out a 454 out of a rusty chevy truck in the junkyard and rebuild it in their own garage, get the crud off that old Ford 9-inch in the salvaged truck and drag it home etc. But nobody ever sees those rods. They never make it into a magazine, or get any publicity, or win any awards, or get the good parking spots at a car showÖ.and thatís because they donít need that. Thatís not the purpose behind rodding, to be in a mag or win an award. Rodding is a hobby. Build what you like, and drive the wheels off of it. Hats off to you who built a rod on a budget, no matter how long it took, or who werenít afraid to be different and not go mainstream, and build what you had envisioned, and to those of you who dream about building a rod. Your time will come. And you donít need tons of money, as long as your creative. Rodding was never meant to be an industry, and to draw in millions of dollars. Rodding was a past time activity, a dream to go faster, and to have a cool ride. Thereís plenty of junkyard out there with good drivetrains, go get them. Theres plenty of old tin left in the fields and barns, go find it. And donít rush it. Cheap doesnít mean easy, doesnít mean fast. Donít be discouraged by watching Barret Jackson, or reading Street Rod Builder. And to those of you who drive high dollar rods, enjoy them, appreciate the good fortune you have and drive them. Thereís plenty of people who wish they had half of what you have. Teach them and share your knowledge. I donít have anything against high dollar rods, nothing what so ever. I just cant afford one. Just donít forget that is not about how much your rod is worth, its how much fun you have with it. Sorry for the long post, just had to vent a little.


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Old 02-04-2006, 01:54 PM
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Excellent post! I have many of the same feelings as you, just apply them to newer cars. Nowadays you can open a catalog and pretty much build yourself a "new" 67-69 Camaro or a 66-74 nova. I see so many cookie cutter chevys with the same parts bought from a catalog -it makes me sick. How hard can it really be to open your wallet and buy all new sheetmetal, a crate motor, and wheels?

All the shows on TV are the same as the mags. I watch spike TV on Sundays. That new show Musclecar will spend all that time to replace metal & straighten a frame out, but then they just get a $30,000 crate motor for it. Why can't they do an old school engine build where they get a motor from a junkyard truck with 200,000 miles on it?
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Old 02-04-2006, 02:11 PM
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Yep, must be nice to just go to the dealership when you want an engine
I wouldn't know, I got a bare block to start with for my new engine. No way can I afford a new crate engine.
Good post Mikey, Don't see the point of just towing the car to a car show. Heck, people do that around here, and they don't live that far from it! If it was all the way across country....I might can see that if your rich. But Im not rich so I have no choice but to drive my truck to a show.
People are getting to be lazy with this stuff. I dont' know how many people I can talk to about cars, they'll ask what Im gonna do with my truck. Ill tell Im gonna put new gauges in the dash and make my own door panels, and powder coat my own parts on the engine. Everyone tells me " Hey they got gauge kits or premade door panels, or billet brackets or etc. for your truck!"
Id rather do the work myself and be proud of it, rather than tell someone it cost me 500 bucks from so and so.

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Old 02-04-2006, 03:24 PM
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The simplicity of rodding.

I agree with the post, and would take things even further.

It looks to me like the whole "Industry" is geared toward only two makes, you can have Chevy or Ford. If like me you choose an Orphan car (39 Hudson Coupe) there are no temptations of chromed this or billet that, you have to repair what you have, or make it yourself.

As for shows, because everything is available for Chevy or Ford, that is what you see. I took my 57 Cadillac to a show once and vowed never to go back. I just don't see the point of travelling whatever distance it might be, lift the hood, set up a deckchair, sit there all day. No one bothers to talk, they are too busy sitting beside their pride and joy, if they left for a moment they might miss a compliment. Anyone who see's my car, will see it on the road.
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Old 02-04-2006, 06:12 PM
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Great essay Nightfire .

To take it further -- how do you guys think the internet has or will affect hotrodding culture?

My view is that widespread communication and knowledge/culture sharing have the ability to reverse the negative profit-driven effects brought on by mass media.

For example:

--Greater availability of original parts via online parts sites (ebay, etc.).

--Increased exchanges of low-buck knowledge in online forums such as this one.

--Ability to spread culture over large geographic regions, as opposed to being limited to regional "clubs", etc.

Hotrodding magazines and television shows are one-way forms of communication.

When you consume those forms of communication, it appears that "most" people favor high-dollar, low-knowledge, bolt-together hot rods.

However, when you feed on web-based hotrodding knowledge/culture (forums, project journals, etc.), a different reality emerges. Ingenuity and low-buck attitudes are treasured far more than purchasing power.

In studying the 100+ forums on the Crankshaft Coalition Master List of Hotrodding Forums, I've noticed that, on the web, millions of people share the values of ingenuity, low-buck building, and pride in workmanship.

This has led me to believe that the big-buck industry does not represent the majority of people, but rather, the majority of mainstream communication and publication. The spend-happy ideals that they're perpetuating are merely a "surface culture" that is far outweighed by the everyday "underground culture" that is widespread on the internet.

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Old 02-04-2006, 06:33 PM
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Nice write up Mike. I agree (had to read carefully...needs paragraphs ) completely.

I am like most of the guys here. If I can't do it myself, it won't get done. I basically have no budget and I am looking for donor cars (cheap!).

No fancy crate engines or even rebuild one myself. Just pull the drive-train, swap it into mine, and drive it. Thats what hotrodding is suppose to be (IMHO).

Without the internet, I wouldn't even have my truck. A gentleman (on another forum ) knew I was looking for one and contacted me. He told me where it was, E-mailed me pics (he took them), and gave me the owners number.

I would not have the knowledge to swap the entire drive-train (including IFS) into it, nor would I attempt it without the net and sites like this one.

Will mine be some show winner? Nope! I will be extremely proud to drive it around and say: "I did this myself!" though.
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Old 02-04-2006, 06:57 PM
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Great post Nightfire and every one that replied. Good choice of cars mosstrooper, I am driving a 37 terraplane myself. feelings like this will keep the hobby like we know it alive.
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Old 02-04-2006, 07:38 PM
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Boy, is it nice to know that there are young kids out there that just might keep our hobby a hobby. Mike are you sure that you are only 17, most of the time you make more sense then someone twice your age. If you were here right now I would shake our hand and say thank you. It is nice to know someone is willing to work and to try something on their own the old fashion way. It makes me proud to be apart of this group, we here call Just to fair, Mike you brought it up, however there are other young guys on here that also have your values, so to be fair I need or we all need to say thanks to all of you guys for keeping a tradition alive.
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Old 02-04-2006, 09:12 PM
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The simplicity of rodding?

Mike - great way to put your thoughts and obviously many others into words.

In 1964 I blew the flathead up in my 1940 Ford. I picked up a junkyard 56 Olds 324 and an Ansen trans adapter to mate it with a 39 Ford box. The night that we finally got it together we mad a couple of shakedown trips down the local cruising strip and went home packed some clothes and a tent and headed off to California via Vancouver. My buddy and I were 19 years old.

I had originally bought the body and a flathead block two years earlier for $50. Another $45 for rings, gaskets, hand valve re lapping and carb rebuild and I had it running. It lasted for 2 years when I over revved it and threw a rod. I found the rebuilt Olds motor and Ansen adapter at a junkyard for $250. An awful lot but at more than twice the horsepower of the flathead I felt it was worth it.

The two week trip to San Francisco and back about 2500 miles was a blast. We had to deal with brake problems, finding out why the points were always burning out, rust plugging up the gas line filter, the battery going dead and a few others but we made it home.

This car was low buck. It had no chrome engine parts, stock torn upholstery, cracked windows and a single exhaust attached by flex pipe to the original muffler and tail pipe.

But it went like stink and was great fun. It could beat any brand new stock car in a short two block street race ( I know we were young and stupid).

That was and still should be what rodding is all about - building and driving.

Many of those who have been building rods a long time have built cars the same way I did but now they don't want to spend their time without a car so they go the manufactured route and "bolt" together a rod. This does not always work out to be easier as parts from many manufactures usually need some modifying to work together.

But as long as those people are driving their cars and having fun - that is what rodding is all about.

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Old 02-04-2006, 10:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Brian_B
Nice write up Mike. I agree (had to read carefully...needs paragraphs ) completely.
LOL on the "paragraphs" comment ... I was sort of thinking the same thing.
But hey ... at least he's using the [Shift] key, and his sentence structure is good.

All ribbing aside ... it WAS an excellent, well-thought out post which will get a lot of people thinking.

Hot-rodding is a hobby in which it is very easy to get "carried away" and influenced by other people. (And here I was thinking I had outgrown peer pressure )

There are a lot of "rainbow chasers" out there that are sitting on some classic iron, waiting to win the lottery so that they can make it (or buy it) absolutely perfect. On the flip side, there are a lot of "scab-jobs" thrown together by guys that are in too much of a hurry to "do it right".

Where do I fit in? I'm not sure.

I wanted to "get at" this project which is really what I have been dreaming of doing since I got the truck in 1981. We did a "budget restoration" (spent about $3000 on paint and chrome) in 1983, and had a very usable (but completely stock) pickup which we used as a very dependable second vehicle until about 2002.

I had been driving it to work (in-town) almost every day ... and have to admit to neglecting her a little. The rust was getting pretty bad, and you could see the street going by through the floorboards. We decided to get something a little newer, a little nicer ... my 98 Grand Prix GTP.

I had parked the truck at work on the lawn, and even had a "For Sale" sign in the window for a few days ... but took it back out. I just couldn't.

It sat there for another year or so, and some son-of-a-birch came along and helped himself to the tailgate. Insurance paid us about a grand, and we felt guilty for spending that on other things. Another year or so passed with me firing it up every 3 or 4 months and driving it around the block to keep the vital fluids moving. In the spring of last year, I noticed that the wiper blades had been swiped as well.

That was the "last straw" and the motivation to "do something" with it before the thieves had it parted out completely. Both of our kids are now grown up, so my wife and I agreed that I could FINALLY go ahead and do what I have been wanting to do for SO long.

I promised to be "reasonable" in my spending, and "pay as I go" in order to avoid going into hock doing this. My original estimate was about $10,000 and a "time to completion" of two years. I'm thinking I may have to double BOTH of those. I haven't sat down with a calculator, but mental calculations have it at around $3000 at the present "rolling frame" stage.

I guess I may have to settle for what I NEED versus what I WANT. although most the cash has been spent on "safety and driveabilty" upgrades ... and almost all of it has been brand new parts.
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Old 02-05-2006, 12:36 AM
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The simplicity of rodding

Excellent post Mike...Don't let the English professors get ya

I too, share your sentiments.. I own a 34 3 window coupe with most of the work done myself..estimates on paint $6500 interior- leather $8500 ..who has that kind of money ? I just finished, well they are never really finished, a 27 Roadster with stuff bought at Home Depot, Pick-a-part, the local hardware store and Wal-mart(15 rattle cans of flat black paint) and Ebay. There are still some of us old time rodders out there who build cars for the fun of it..actually my wife says it's therapy and cost less than the psychiatrist. Glad to know there are some younguns out there to keep the hobby alive. Don't let the high priced "buy-it-yourselfers" get you down. When you get your first trophy on a car YOU built it means soooo much more. Build em, drive em, enjoy em.... you can't believe the response when some dad comes up looking at your pride and joy at a car show with his kids and you actually ask him if the kids would like to sit in your car...I can't count the home pics people have of my cars with their kids in it..Go here to see the Roadster....
...keep the faith...Dennis
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Old 02-05-2006, 03:30 AM
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I think building hotrods muscle cars or even HONDA IMPORT TUNERS is about doing it your self maybe with friends helping each other out and not about spending money. Hotrodding started as the working class who built cars to compete with the expensive cars of rich people's.

I just love to see Porsches getting killed by a old body car with "god knows what kind of engine" in it.

Rich people spend money and buy a Lamborghini or have someone build a "rod" because they are at work in their office and do not have the time or the courage to start their project their selves.

People with normal income who fantasy, determination and are willing to ask around and try things out... THAT are hotrodders.

In my opinion hotrodding is like love. Some things money can't buy. You have to build it yourself. If you buy "love" there is no emotion which is the most important in the relationship between you and your car/ girl....
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Old 02-05-2006, 07:51 AM
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On the note of the internet, I think it's a two way thing. On the good side like minded individuals can share knowlage show others what they are up too in there part of the world, ect. The downside is some guy can see one of these "rat rods" want to build one, then all his mates want one, It's the whole anit fasion thing and sheep thing that happened with the punk movement. These people don't have the passion for traditional stuff, they just want Mr smith to admire there car. The rest of up then have to pay through the nose for parts. It's nice to get new people involved don't get me wrong it's just the fasion hoppers we could do without know what I mean? sorry about the rant edit: for my roddings all about low buck big bang, useing your own intuition and getting together with friends with diffrent strengths to build someing cool without a hefty price tag.
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Old 02-05-2006, 09:00 AM
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The low buck route is the way to go for many of us and the internet has the info we need when there are not enough rodders around at the time when we need the info. Mine (38 DeSoto) falls in that orphan category where you can't buy a lot of parts for it. So I go the old route of buy, sell, trade parts or labor/barter to get what I need. It's a great way to go on a tight income plus it's just like they used to do it in the old days of hotrodding. I agree the high dollar billet rods are great and like the Concoures De' Elegance cars (my boss and his dad has one) which I could never afford are fantastic and worth seeing and drooling over, the low buck rides are still alive and well and we know what's in'em and what we went through to create it. It's therapy and a creative labor of love and great satisfaction at the same time. I've just enjoyed the heck out of my project but am looking forward to finish it. I can't wait to try something new and different again. Maybe a 3 wheel (covered) motorcycle, electric engine in something for a work vehicle, make my own body for a golf cart, who knows the creative juices get flowing and I've got more ideas than I can afford to create. Isn't it GREAT, the skills of building your own ride gives you, that you can put to work in other projects as well? The possibilities seem endless for new projects.
Fine job NIghtfire!!!
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Old 02-05-2006, 09:29 AM
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As usual, great post. You deserve an Oscar for "Best 50 year old hot rodder in a 17 year old body". Your insight into this hobby always blows me away.

Jon's comments on the effect of the internet on hot rodding are also quite thought provoking. The TV shows and glossy magazines all depend upon advertisers to keep them afloat. And advertisers want to see cars with all brand new parts. And the more expensive the part, the better. And that is how you end up with low budget rods costing $40,000.

But the internet brings us a whole new wrinkle. It doesn't depend on high dollar advertisers. So sites like HR.Com, with pictures and stories of 100's of true low buck rods, can flourish and gather over 35,000 members and who knows how many untold thousands of lurkers and sporadic visitors.

Jon is also right about another very important factor. Magazines and TV shows are one-way communication. We consume whatever the editor or producer wants us to consume. The internet is not only TWO-way communication, it is a democratic two-way communication. I have just as much right to publish pictures of my rat rod as you do to publish pictures of your billet mobile. And we each have equal footing to comment on each other's rides.

And in my estimation, as I read Mike and Jon's posts, the proliferation of hot rodding on the internet is winning the day. Let me make just one small, personal, observation in support of that conclusion. I currently subscribe to three glossy car magazines and I have access to approximately 10 hot rod related television shows per week on TV. But you know what? I no long watch ANY of the television shows any more and I probably spend a total of 60-90 minutes a MONTH thumbing through my car magazines. But I easily spend 30-40 HOURS a month here on HR.Com either asking questions, answering question, doing searches for specific problems I encounter, reading other peoples journals, or just grazing through each days new threads. I find this two-way, democratic, in depth coverage of hot rodding suits my needs perfectly.

Thanks again for the post Mikey. If I had another son...I'd want it to be you.

Always learning...and sharing what I've learned.
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