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I want to build a rat rod


New Member
Hey everyone, I was bit by the Tbucket bug. Im only fifteen, so I dont have a huge budget, but I figure I could make atleast 5 grand before my grade 11 year, Ive already got 600 saved up. I want to make a super simple rod, I have been told I can have a ford 9-in rear end from a relative (its probably old, but hey, its free), and I figure I can make my own frame from 2x4 steel, I would get a skilled welder to do it, or help me do it. I want a 302, and the car doesnt have to be a show car, like I said, I want a rat rod. I just need some direction on where to go with the project. All the drive train would be from a junk yard, the body from probably class glass, or total performance. I am mechanically inclined, so I know what it takes to get a car running. My biggest question is how to do the interior. It cant cost a whole lot, and it would be good if it were something I could make, cause getting anything shipped to Canada costs an arm and a leg. Anyway, any help would be greatly appreciated.
Well, first of all, welcome to the forum.:rofl: Most of us on here have been exactly where you are at your age, a burning desire to build a cool car with limited funds and a million questions. Some of us STILL have limited funds. :eek: But let me play wise old Dad for a minute and try to give you another way to go.

Building a car from the ground up is a more difficult task than it appears. On the surface it looks like you build a frame, bolt on some suspension, plop a motor in it, slide on the body, fill the tank and drive off into the sunset. In reality it takes a whole lot more than that, not to mention equipment and money to do it properly. I'm not trying to talk you out of it, just suggesting that for the FIRST build you start with a running or almost running car. Otherwise you will be spending every free moment for the next two or more years (and every cent you have) working on your car.

As an example, when my twin Sons were about 15 we decided we needed to start putting a couple of cars together for them so that when they got their licenses at 16 they would have some cool cars to drive. My Son Don got a '65 Olds convertible, and Dan got a VW bug that we were going to turn into a Cal Look Bug. They were both project cars. Dons got a tripower 455 Olds, and we bought a second car for parts we needed. Dans was built from 8 VW's in total. In the end, neither car was done until they were about 18, and we had to buy them daily drivers in the meantime so that they would have wheels.

The other thing that will get in the way for you will be girls. You will want to start dating as soon as you get your license, and believe me, your car will take a backseat to your dating...........been there, done that.:cool::cool: What will happen is that you will lose interest in the project, and it will end up sitting. (That is why my Son's cars took three years to build........they discovered girls.)

So here is my suggestion. Stay in school, get good grades, and get yourself a car that you can reasonably get on the road in a short period of time. It may not be your ultimate car, but that will come in time. I didn't get the hot rod I really wanted until after my kids were grown and I could afford it. I had a lot of "ok" cars along the way, but it took years to get the one I really lusted after.

I know this advice is not what you want to hear, but I bet you can find some cool car that is almost ready to run and just needs your personal touches to get it going. Take it from someone who has been there many times, slow driving beats fast walking. :rofl:

Welcome to the forum raze44, Don has given you some good advice, I don't know what kind of classes your school offers but if they have any shop classes I'd suggest you look into them. A welding or automotive class would give you a good background and teach you some needed skills. Since you are going to need money you could look for an after school job at a local garage.
I suggest the same thing but with the way things are going keep up on electrical also. These cars don't have alot of wirng just enough to give headaches once in a while. Welcome to the site
First off welcome to the site. All of the others have given good advice. To answer your question. The best way to go about building one of these cars is to get a donor car. Then you strip all the running gear out of it and put it on a T bucket frame. You might even think about useing the donor car as a driver for awhile as you build the frame etc on the bucket.
You said you want a 302 I assume you meen Ford. So be looking for an old truck with a 302 that runs pretty good. You could drive it for a year or so and then tear it apart. To give an example I have a 77 F150 truck 400 motor that runs and drives good. We have it for sale locally for $1300. It would make a perfect donor.
welcome to the sits raze! all the above is good advice. the only thing i would ad is look for a mentor. i don't know where you are from but there is a very good chance someone lives close to you that can help and guide you thru the pitfalls of building a car. talk to your dad, uncles, friends of the family. check at the parts stores in your area for others doing hotrod builds. start a network for chassis, body, electrical and engine work. offer to help those people even if you don't have all the skills yet, an extra pair of hands is nice to have around.

if there is a particular area that is more interesting to you, work at building your skills in that area. labor trades are awesome ways to save money on a build.

as for the car it's self, Ron's advice to look for a donor is by far the best way to go. it will provide you with the opportunity to learn more about what it takes to maintain your car and keep it up. plus, as ron said you can strip it when your chassis is ready. i would look for a mid 60's ford or merc. no smog stuff and less electronics. pretty basic vehical with a 289 will give you enough performance to put a smile on your face.

welcome to the wonderful world of hot rodding! one last thing to think about, girls are neat but, you'll never understand them like you will a car that you've built yourself. lol

Welcome to the forum! My advice would be to find some hot rodders in your area. Ask questions and LISTEN to the answers. I commend you for your enthusiasm, but don't start your journey blind. Network with fellow hot rodders and ask as many questions as you can.

On this site alone there are well over a hundred years of building experience. Youngster accounts for most of that.:lol: Shoot your questions, read previous post and NEVER give up.

Oh.... stay in school and pay attention.
tfeverfred said:
On this site alone there are well over a hundred years of building experience. Youngster accounts for most of that.:lol:

Fred, you are cold blooded! :lol:
tfeverfred said:
... On this site alone there are well over a hundred years of building experience. Youngster accounts for most of that.:lol: ...

Did you just say that outloud! :lol:



I can't contribute any additional wisdom than what's already been shared with ya... Come back and check in often and ask lots of questions!
This is why i like this site i agree with everything said.
welcome to the site first off.
as a high school auto shop teacher i understand where your coming from and wish you where in my class.
I like the donor idea it will give you alot of the little parts that really can add up pulleys,brackets you can get the drive trans running good while you drive it.
get an old ford truck and start piecing together the frame and body
keep your future in mind though to dont spend college money on the rat rod.the better future you can make for yourself the more and better rods you will have in life.
no harm, no foul fred!!!

get used to learning. at 63 i'm still learning stuff from the great guys here on this site

Just some food for thought. Get the best education you can. A doctrate in engineering would not be too much. You will make plenty of money to afford toys as you grow older.

Somebody might steal your toy or your tools but they can never take away your knowledge.
Youngster said:
no harm, no foul fred!!!

get used to learning. at 63 i'm still learning stuff from the great guys here on this site


Cool, Youngster. I'm getting close to being able to work on mine and my sence of humor is coming back.

As I and so many others have stated, get your education, but never forget your dream. It will come.
The only thing I can add to all this advise is to start buying plans from outfits like California Custom Roadster (CCR) and definitely get the Total Performance assembly manual this will be the best 25.00$ you can spend on your build you can buy it online every single blue print you need and lots of assembly tips as well.With the Total book you can build most of your T in shop classes at school!while lots of guys will think any of the Small block Engines are boring Belly button motors this is just what you need for a first build Use the K.I.S.S. rule and stick to it!I'm 55 and work as a weldor/fabricator every day and the Total book has helped me plan parts and in designing my T.Visit here often and listen when these guys speak they have all been there ask lots of questions here and do us a favor build yourself a nice lo dollar hot rod but be carefull of getting caught up in that "rat rod" thing.
First of all Welcome to the site. Yeah got to agree with all the above mention advice that was posted. For 15 sounds like you know what you want with this build. So stay motivated with the build and keep us informed on your progress.
Yup, find a good running "donor car/truck" and pick it clean....
As far as the interior.....Don't sweat it, Glue in some wood pieces (strips to stapple too), use Bondo or liquid nails,or 3M marine adhesive, or whatever..... Then simply staple in a Indian (native American, or Canadian ) Blanket and a little foam....Bolt in a couple bucket seats or make some....Done deal.
After a while, if you decide to step up and redo the interior, the wood is already there, all ya gotta do is upgrade.....
Jus some ideas..... "BH"
Thanks for all of the replies, and advice. It has took me a while to get back, because I didn't think that it actually posted. I see that most people advise that I get a donor vehicle and work off that. That would be a good idea, but the problem for me, is that I live in the East Coast of Canada, so anything old enough to have a 302 has long since rusted out (because of the fierce winters, and our use of salt on the roads), and has probably been junked. And the ones that are left would cost a fortune. And I totally agree that I should focus on school. Right now, I have a 97 average, while balancing a part time job (sorry, Im not trying to brag), so If the build ever made my marks suffer, I would put it on the backburners. I would like to get the body sometime soon, I can afford it right now, but I dont want to get it until I know what else to order with it. Sorry to offend anyone by making it sound like I was cross referencing hot rods and rat rods :D, what I mean by rat rod, is something that is intentionally made to look old and decrepid, but still looking really mean. Kind of 'out-lawish'. Ill try to post a picture of what I'd like to make. I am kind of wondering about the front suspension. I want to know what the best way to get it nice and low. The rear end seems pretty simple, I dont know if I have to use the wishbone style control arms, or if I have to use a more modern style, if I channel out the body. And finally the interior. How much room is there? Would there be room to get an old bench from a junk yard, or maybe two buckets, and add a console in the centre? And how do you set up an audio system....or is it imposible?

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