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Hey Donsrods


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Hey Don! I've read your t build on club hotrod.Twice actually!! You initially set out to build it under 3k. As you said it ended up about 5 times that. Looking back on it, what might be some things you would do differently to meet that 3k goal? I find it very interesting and thought it might make a cool discussion. I'd love to hear what everybody thinks.....Jason
I'd like to know too. I have a little over $8,000 in mine and will finish under my budget of $10,000, but looking back and with what I know now, I could have done it for a lot less.

I have a lot and have plans for the next one and any advice would be helpful.
"I have a lot and have plans for the next one and any advice would be helpful."

Oh you are hooked big time. You don't have this one completly finished and you are planning to build another. You sound just like me. I have 2 buckets and neither one of them finished, got to do the upholstery on them both.

Build a car for under $3000? It would be pretty hard, unless you can do all the work yourself, and mostly all used parts. :lol:
One of the things I use to keep costs down is labor trade. I can put one of my chassis together for around $850. Last year I built one and will receive the paint squirtin' as the trade. Another thing is to not be in too big of a hurry. Watch for the parts you want to use and buy them when you find a deal. I like to have 95% of the parts on hand before I start my builds. That way, once you start, you can keep moving forward instesd of having to stop to raise $$$ or find parts. It never fails. I will always find the best deal after I buy something.
jrn said:
Hey Don! I've read your t build on club hotrod.Twice actually!! You initially set out to build it under 3k. As you said it ended up about 5 times that. Looking back on it, what might be some things you would do differently to meet that 3k goal? I find it very interesting and thought it might make a cool discussion. I'd love to hear what everybody thinks.....Jason

You read it TWICE!! Man, you are a glutton for punishment! :lol::lol: But thank you. :D

Where I went wrong in sticking to that budget was in the little niceties I started buying to make it prettier than I originally planned. Like I mentioned, I really started to like the car and since I hadn't had a running hot rod for 7 years I wanted it to be a little more finished.

However, I still think a car can be done for about that amount if a person is very selective about how they go about it. A donor car would be a great start. If you purchased let's say a mid 70's Ford or Chevy that was hit in the rear but everything was still in good shape, you could salvage the engine, transmission and rear end. I say Ford or Chevy, but any other car could work too, including Buick, Dodge, etc.

Then you could simply clean up and rattle can paint the entire drivetrain to install in your new car. You could also pull a lot more parts off of the car like wiring, maybe the steering box, etc then scrap the rest or sell off parts to get some of your money back.

Steel tubing to build the frame is going to cost you a couple of hundred bucks, and if you are able to weld it up yourself or tack weld it so a pro can do the final welding you won't have too much tied up in the final frame.

For the front suspension with some shrewd shopping you could score a used t bucket style front end or maybe one from something like an Econoline van, to which you could add a cross spring setup.

I see guys all the time on some of the rat rod forums I am a member of who are building a car with very little money invested. Some of them live in States where this old stuff is laying around everywhere. Here in Florida we rarely see any old stuff like that.:sad: Some guys are also very good at dickering and bartering, so they save money that way too.

The key to doing it is to do it the way we did it in the '50's and '60......make most of your own parts and rely on deals you can find to get the parts you can't make. It also makes sense to buy someone else's unwanted project. Years ago we bought a T bucket project from a guy for $ 1500, and with it we got about $ 4000 worth of brand new parts he had bought for the project. He made the mistake so many people make, he started with a lousy frame and body then began ordering all these neat chrome parts to put on it. He should have gotten the frame and body right first, THEN started buying stuff he needed. He lost interest and just wanted it gone.

Good luck on your build, and if we can help, just let us know.

Thanks guys!!! This is definitely an interesting subject. Specially for a poorboy like me........
please post a link to the article and could you mention the rat rod forum website too?

And hey!, where do I find one of those $1,500 abandonned projects?
im trying to build my car for under $2000, here is the list, frame plans copied from a co-worker - free , front end from flea market - $100 ,frame steel part left over from paying job, rest under$200 ,rear end- free i lent the guy my car trailer,he will also help with wiring, motor from 1968 olds toro that a tree fell on ,bought for $60 sold about $400 of parts i kept the motor, trany free from fellow bucket head for a future considerations ,body and rad shell came with truck load of parts sold other parts i didnt want, made about $300 clear ,winsheld in a job lot box at auction sold other parts made $50, dash from old project i just could not throw out - free , wood from scrap bin at work took all winter to get enough - free, box sides left over from friends truck - free, rear fenders $20 swap meet, front brakes $210 swap meet , this is it so far plus the bill for rod ends and all hardware. also many friends have been helping me out, i plan to list their names on the car inside under the clear coat so it can stay there forever. thanks oldskool
fatboyman05 said:
...where do I find one of those $1,500 abandonned projects...

Abandoned projects are all over... keep your ear to the ground... a buddy of mine has been building a 53 Chevy Pick Up for 8 years... interior is done (very nicely), built motor (very right), all new or rebuilt running gear... body work 90% done... invested $36,000 in parts alone! He's not made any progress in over a year and is mentally done... for sale... $15,000.

Also have another friend who has been buy all kinds of stuff to build a similar truck... so far 2 frames, 4 cabs, one box... told him about it... all his stuff is going away, he's buying the truck, and I'm sure we'll have it on the road in 6 months... for less that 20K he'll have a truck worth high 30's easy...
Sad as it is, these economic hard times are going to put a lot of project cars into the marketplace. People are losing their jobs and homes and will be selling off stuff just to survive...........I have been there more than once in my life, so I really feel for them. But the fact is that if you have a few bucks to spend you will be able to find some cars that might not have been for sale a year ago.

I am going to actually start a new project pretty soon, and am going to try to keep the price down. I bought a '46 Ford engine, transmission, rearend assembly, front axle assembly and stuff like all four brakes, etc. for $ 500 from a fellow forum member. I am driving up to Atlanta in a couple of weeks to pick it up. This stuff should provide a good basis for an old timey, low buck hot rod. My Son Dan keeps offering me a '30 Model A tudor body he has stashed in our loft, but I can't take it from him. It is his car, and someday he will build it.

But I might look for the front half of a touring car, or something like that and use the parts from the '46 on it. So many decisions, so little time left! :lol::lol: I've heard that as long as you have projects you can't die........some law or something. :lol::)

Old thread I know but here is my oppinion. As long as you wait and slowly gather parts that others do not want and will give you or sell cheap I think you can build a T bucket for around that price. Also you need to do your own labor including painting it yourself, all the body work, welding, engine, tranny assembly, etc. I have been collecting parts for a T bucket for a few years now and have a Ford 302 (needs a few things here and there but it's an engine I know runs because I pulled it out of my 66 F100 to put in a bigger motor), 3 speed tranny but may look for a C4, rear end, and some other stuff. I save and collect all my old parts from other projects because I know later on I can use them and it's the small parts and odds and ends that add up in the end.
My plans are to have a T bucket for around $6000 or a little more but I know I can do it for $4500 easily. Only thing keeping me from doing that is some extra nice stuff I want to put on like a polished or chromed from axle and 4 link and chrome or polished windshield posts, bomber style seats and nice interior.
Just have to look around and be patient. Do trades if possible, that has helped me a lot. I used to not have ANYTHING to trade but I started pulling parts off of things and holding onto my old stock parts from my old truck and trading people for better and bigger things and now I have some of the most expensive stuff out of the way for a build. Like someone said above, collect most of your parts before you buy anything and start a build. You will be able to build and not have to stop every 2 days for a week or so.
Sorry for such a long post...
Shawn F. said:
... collect most of your parts before you buy anything and start a build...

Just saw a huge list of stuff listed for sale! TONS of parts!


Many of these parts are new or in excellent condition and some are used and in good condition.
They are being offered as a package deal for $7000.00 until June 17th.
Then they will be available as individual items and will be at the back to the 50s swap meet.

Here are just a few photos of some of the parts.








Dave N Deb Waldoch <>
Location: St Paul MN
For anyone interested in this hoard, Back to the 50's is June20th thru 22nd. That's the week end after the Mini Nat's in Albert Lea.

Man I would like to have that front end with the axle and wire wheels ,,,
Can you say MOTHER LOAD!?:eek:
Of course I never have the luck of running into something like that close by. Either that or things like that pop up when I have NO money. :ciao: That front end is NICE! The bodies are as well.

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