Episode 119. Budget Hot Rod. (Part 1).

I thought that before I write about my budget Hot Rod build I would post a little introduction so that you can get an idea of why this happened, and not just how.

This all happened a long time ago, in a galaxy far far away... It was a Ford Galaxy, and to be honest, goodness knows what we were doing sitting in that thing. The year was 1995, and there was three of us sitting in a brand new Ford Galaxy, M.R., M.C., and Me. One of us (M.R.) was even considering buying one for his small growing family, as we sat there in the showroom looking at this monstrosity the one of us who was considering buying it suddenly spoke. What he said would have an impact on our motoring directions, and bank balances for the next couple of years, he said, "I'm thinking about building a Hot Rod!" There was a short moment of silence, and then I said, what, as well as having this thing? He looked back at me and said, "No, I'm not having this rubbish, this is what the Missus has in mind, it's not my way!" It wasn't, in fact its almost safe to say that it was none of our ways. We had all been armchair Hot Rodders since our early teens, we bought the magazines, went to the shows, watched the videos, but none of us had ever owned a Hot Rod before. So I said to him, where are you going to get a Hot Rod from? Are you planning to buy one, or build one? I knew in the back of my mind that he would say build one. Which was exactly what he said. Then, M.C., who up until this point had been silent asked where he would get the bits from? To which he replied that he had found a company quite local to us who make the bodies, and can even sell you a complete kit! This was it really, the seed, that had been laying dormant in our minds had been woken. Suddenly I found that I was paying extra attention at car shows, just to see exactly what kind of Hot Rod I wanted to build.


For the next couple of months or so we trawled the car shows, and I read the magazines. Before too long I was fairly sure that I knew what I wanted, I wanted a 1932 Ford Model 'B' coupé, I'd always wanted a 1932 Ford Model 'B' coupé, and for this I blame John Milner and his piss yella '32 coupé from the film American Graffiti.


There was something about the Model 'B' Ford that I really liked, it almost didn't matter how it was done, as long as it was a coupé, I pretty much liked it. 


I went to car shows armed with my trusty Canon A1 camera, and took hundreds of photos of not just '32 Fords, but anything that resembled a Hot Rod of any description. The good, the bad, and the downright ugly! It did still all feel a bit like a day dream to me though because in my mind, what kind of mid to late twenty year old from the middle of Hampshire builds a Hot Rod? Who does that? I remember thinking at the time that the likely hood of being able to build a Hot Rod on my wages and talent were pretty low. But, being carried in part by the enthusiasm of my friends, I slowly came around to the idea that maybe, just maybe I could actually have one.


I started talking to Hot Rod owners at shows. I asked them no end of questions, mostly about where they got the body, and how they put it all together. Some had bought their cars as complete cars, some had found old bodies and mounted them on newer chassis, or fabricated chassis, and some had bought fibre-glass kits, and bolted them together in their own garages. I must admit it did all sound easy, but could someone like me with absolutely no fabrication skills what so ever actually do this? 

My two friends and I talked about nothing other than building our own Hot Rods, and egged on by each other we decided that between the three of us, we could probably do it. One of us was an excellent paint and body work man, one of us is quite a good fabricator, and I... Well, I'm pretty good and making tea and sandwiches! Plus, I had a van we could pick stuff up in! Although, it's pretty safe to say that I still had my doubts that I had the abilities I needed to actually do this. But then, at a show I was talking to a fella who had built his own Hot Rod, and he was a few years younger than me...


But he had put together what I thought was a pretty nice ride. We chatted for a bit, and he showed me around his Hot Rod, pointed out the things he thought he had done well, and the things he thought he'd done badly. At the end of our little chat he asked me if I had Meccano, or Technic Lego as a child? I said that I had them both. So he asked me if I was any good at it? To which I replied that I was fairly competent with both. He looked at me and just said, "Well, you shouldn't have much drama building yourself a Hot Rod. There is a Hot Rod for almost every level of abilities, you can build it as easy, or as complicated as you like!" Over the next couple of weeks or so I mulled this over, and looked through the photos of his Hot Rod that I had taken, and the more I looked, the more I thought that actually, I probably could do this, and up until this point I had seriously been considering trying to build a Beach Buggy, so honestly, how much harder would it be to build a Hot Rod? In the end I figured that really, there was only one way to find out, and that was to actually build one. So that's exactly what I, and my two friends did.

This all happened over twenty years ago, and I documented the process as I worked on my budget Hot Rod. I took photos, I made notes, and at one point I even put a little book together of the build. But outside of writing the notes, and the little book I have not really shared how I built it to a wider audience before. However, due to so many people over the years asking me if they could see a build thread about it I am going to try and share my story of how I built my little Hot Rod with you guys, and hopefully in the process satisfy everyone who has ever asked me if there was ever anywhere they could read about how I built it. I am hoping to try and post one update (if you can call it that on a build that happened so long ago) a week. The big problem is that when I built it, I was transitioning from a camera that used film (at the beginning of the build), to the new technology (at the time) that was digital (at the very end of the build) So most of the photos were taken on 35mm film using a Canon A1, and an Olympus μ (mju) These film pictures I still have. However to find, and scan the images that you will see I am wading through hundreds, if not thousands of old photographs. I have done a lot already, but I havn't done them all. Towards the end of the build when I was starting to use a cheap digital camera I stored the digital pictures on ​3 12-inch floppy disc at first, and then transferred them onto CD a few years later for safe keeping. But for some reason the CD's that I saved all the images on around fifteen years ago now don't seem to work. Apparently, according to my Brother the CD has become corrupted, I've no idea why. So I have various friends, and my Brother trying to somehow get the photos off the CD's, and they've managed to get a few off, but not a lot. While they are doing this I am going through all my negatives scanning any photos of the Hot Rod that I come across, this is taking me a long time, but I'm getting there. But there may come a time when I'm needing to spend time finding the photos to write the update, although that shouldn't be for a while, and hopefully my photo scanning will keep up with the updates. But only time will tell. I have also asked all my friends if they have any photos of the hot rod, as a lot of them took photos during the build at the time. Some have already been passed on to me, and when I do eventually get all the photos scanned et cetera, they will all get used to write the story. I am also thinking about scanning some of the original sketches I did when I was building it, as I thought it might be nice to include them too.

Lastly, although I took notes, and wrote a little book about it I cant seem to find it. I was fairly sure I knew where I'd put it, but it would appear that I don't. My eldest little Monster thinks I lent it to her primary school when she still went there as they were doing a project on transport possibly eight years ago or so. I vaguely remember lending it to them, but I can't remember if I got it back, eight years is a long time. But I guess that's not a massive problem as I was going to only use it as a guide, and pretty much re-write it anyway. 

So that's all my excuses for the following poor post writing, and bad photography out of the way. My only hope is that you will all follow along with the build, and somehow find it to be enjoyable, informative, and most of all, worth reading! Stay tuned!


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