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Build or Buy?


My dilemma is to whether I build or buy, and I'd like to get your two pennies worth on the subject, and why you followed the path that you did.
On the one hand, to build a bucket from a kit/scratch I figure I would probably be in for roughly $12-15K (I am considering Sprit's deluxe t-bucket, which is pretty damn complete). The pro is that I know from the get go what I have, what I need, what is in the car. Plus there is the satisfaction of building it on my own. The con is that $12-15 grand. I'm cheap, what can I say? ;)

Ted mentioned in another post I could pick up somebody's abandoned project for a fraction of a new kit. The pro here is that the money out of pocket is potentially much lower, and there is still the satisfaction of completing a project. The con, who knows what state said project will be in and will have to be done, as well as what further expenses will be required.

Another option is finding a driver project, maybe on ebay. I think that if I'm vigilant, I may be able to put together a deal for under $10K. Is that reasonable? Just this morning I found two or three that could fit such a scenario. Thoughts?
My thoughts are, it all depends on your skill level. And you are the only one that knows the true answer to that. If you do not feel comfortable building a car from scratch. A kit like spirits is a great choice. They will provide you with great tech support. There are plenty out there, so you can also find help from others on the 'net that have built them. But if you feel comfortable in building from scratch, you can save a lot of money. The more you can do, as in build yourself, the more you can save. And again tons of help on the 'net. Buying an unfinshed car, either running or not, can be a good way to save money. IF you know what you are looking at. I have seen alot of projects that are just junk, full of mismatched parts, junk parts, and are a complete waste of money. And also some real deals. That part depends on what you find.
Buying a complete kit, and then not having the money to finish it, makes for a bargain for the next guy. Trying to build it yourself, and getting in over your head, makes for lost interest, and a bargain for the next guy. You need to be honest with yourself in your ablilities and finances to make the decision on what is best for you.
I am building my own been collecting parts for three years, bought a body from spirit some parts from speedway,and building my own frame. This is the long way around but all parts are new,so I will know what I have when finished. If I were buying an unfinshed project I would look it over carefully and catalog all the parts. Buying an older car could go either way check it out carefully and consider the price including getting it home. good luck with your project...Francis
It is like LKE points out. Be hohest with your self and your skill levels. Can you cut and weld. You better be a good welder your life as well as others depend on it. What kind of equipment do you have? I know one guy on here that built his bucket with not much more than a welder and a 4" angle grinder. Made all the brackets and tabs with a 4" angle grinder, and did and excellent job of it. You can save a lot of money building it yourself. The labor cost the most.
Great points so far. I'm not a fabricator, and is one reason that if I build, it'll be a kit. I want as many parts in the kit as possible so that I spend my time assembling and then driving. Honestly, this is what brought me to the idea of a bucket, and why I got so excited when I saw Spirits deluxe kit.
I think you will like Spirit, good product and great people to work with. Check out my gallery, that is a Spirit Super kit.
A few years ago I thought I wanted A ''t'' bucket. so I started looking At them when they were in Iowa.There was some things I wanted in my ''t'' when I bought one, good welds, like a factory built frame ,a door,Chev-vy motor,One I could fit into, not finished,price be right.I looked at quite a few, then one day I saw a ad ,about a 100 miles+- away for one not completed,The owner had put it together ,with a total frame,a 305 chev-vy motor he had taken to NAPA & had overhauled ,bored 30 over & put a R. V cam.It also had 350 Turbo tranny with a possy rear end. He had got hurt & was unable to ride in it[he also sold his Harley].I bought it & took it home, put it in my extra garage. I worked on it & it has worked out real good. for a 70 year old I really enjoy it. You know it has been 5 years next month that I bought my ''T'', time goes fast when you are having fun.................
There are advantages to both buying a project from some one you can drive the summer and tinker with it then fix big things over winter. With a kit the newer ones you can get bodies with more leg and butt room aka longer and wider bodies.If you are tall look at these You might want to go to a bucket event where I am sure people would let you sit in there car to figure out what you want.
Ok, my split nickel. I built mine from scratch, with alot of really good deals from friends new and old, online and not. Alot of trading parts, and giving and recieving parts.

If you don't know how to weld, either take a course at a trade school and learn yourself, find a talented mentor to help you, pay a pro to do it, or order a kit. I welded mine with a mentor, on a professional machine, and had a test weld tested by a weld lab. I'm happy with mine, I know it's strong.

If you buy someone elses project, don't rush it. Look it over several times. Talk to the builder. Find out if he's a real rodder down on his luck or money, or if he's an idiot who thinks a long block chevy head won't fit a short block chevy motor.

Test drive it if you can. Look at the suspensions. Jump on the front of the frame and see if the suspension moves. Bounce in the seat. Look at the welds. I looked at a "complete" bucket about a year back. The owner wanted $500 for the car with no motor. A thorough inspection found the rear suspension had coilovers, and a transverse leaf spring with waaaaaayyy too many leaves in it. I weigh 300 lbs and couldnt budge the rear suspension. the front suspension had a huge transverse spring, mounted directly to the hairpins with a homemade brcket with a bolt. no shackles. The ends of the main spring leaf had been heated and bent up to lower the front end. I couldn't bounce the front end. I talked to the onwer for a while and said it looked like it rode rough. He first said it was ok, but the longer we talked, the worse the car got. He finally admitted that he was selling it because he couldn't drive it. It was all over the road.

my last comment. If you think you can do it for cheap (<$5k), start saving your money. when you get to 10K, start on it.

My real last comment--Know what the registration laws are in your state before you buy the first part.
I would be willing to bet if you pay 5000.00 for someones project you will probably change 1/3 of it. When the new wears off in 6 months the things you thought you could live with you will want to replace. One thing about spirits kit its proven and his parts are top quality and FIT. So my 2 cents are spend that 5K on as much a kit as you can afford.
Keep in mind that even the deluxe Spirit kit isn't complete. Nickle and dime stuff adds up. I already have more than double in to mine than what the kit cost. Then again, I'm sure I could have saved a lot by being patient and collecting all the parts here and there whenever the deals presented themselves, but I'm on a mission. ;)

In the end after seeing a bunch of for sale ads, I could probably buy a complete, driveable bucket with very similar parts for $5k+ cheaper than what I'm building mine for, but I want the satisfaction of building it myself and doing it my way.
Given how tight money is at the moment Id figure you could buy a good project for 50 cents in the dollar.

But its only a saving if you dont change stuff. I have learned that time and again. As the Kaizan folk used to say "Start with the end in mind"

So if you are looking at a project, you want to price it only on the stuff you plan to keep. Generally, second hand stuff is easier to buy than to sell.

We dont have kits like Spirit down here in New Zealand, but they will get you a safe, good handling bucket kit based on their vast amount of experience. Thats got to be good, but will probably cost a bit more than buying somebody elses castoff.
I could have bought a completed car for way cheaper than building, but I wanted the satisfaction and experience of doing it from scratch. So far, I haven't been into the project that far, but what I've learned up til now, is worth way more than just buying and driving. It may take me another 2 to 3 years to finish but there's going to be a lot of pride when I finally get behind the wheel.
I built mine because I could not find anything I like and did not have what I wanted. As far as building one cheap, yeah right. You might be able to scrouge alot of parts and all. But it could turn out just that, looking cheap.
I've been watching "project builders" on the bay for the last 6 weeks. Seems you can pick up a rolling chassis and body for around $3000. I never concidder a motor as anything more than a mockup piece with projects unless I see build recepts. Here again you want to see what you are buying and concider shipping or delivery. Ask questions!

I tried for twenty years or more to build soomething but I can't weld, I know I can't. I tried and tried but I jsut suck at it.

Dad and brother stack dimes and it's beautiful... getting them to weld up my perfectly prepared frame rails jsut never happened. I had my buiild money and a car came available.

Nothing fancy, not too expensive and a turn key; get in and go. It was a Spirit built so I knew exactly what to expect. No doubt about who made the frame or any of that mess. If I bought a kit it would have been a Spirit. I bought the bucket and have been putting the miles on since.

Replaced the engine because the original was burning oil and blowing some smoke. Painted it, changed the rear end and the rear coilovers, going to change the radius rods next because I just hate the Spirit radius rod design for some reason. They work, don't get me wrong, they jut look strange to me.

Got me some plain old regular Speedway hairpins for the front and might go with some RPM rears when I can afford 'em.

Lots of changes? Not really. Happy I bought instead of built? Yeah sure. Would I have liked to finish the original bucket. Hell yeah, it's in pieces taking up valuable room in the garage. It needs to get built.

Too bad I'm out driving all the time.
Some people are mostly builders, and they are Happy just building, even if it takes 10 years, as soon as it gets finished, they sell it, and start building again... Even though I built chassis for a living, and loved what I did,,, I enjoyed driving a whole lot more... So, if you want to drive a TBucket, there are plenty of deals out there, have cash, you can usually buy for half the asking price, offer what you like, give them your number and walk, they already have that money spent, they will call you back... unless someone offers more cash... but there are plenty to be had...:)
Ted, I'm onboard with that. I like working on my cars, but not fabricating them.

I'm not opposed to the idea of buying a drivable project. On the flipside, a "complete" kit built to my simple/inexpensive build plan would only assembling and purchasing mostly basic/used parts. Wrecking yard and craigslist are my friends. :lol:

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