Ron Pope Motorsports                California Custom Roadsters               

Scratch Built Body


Hi there, gang. I have an idea in my head that I'd like some input on. I'm very interested in the idea of making a scratch built fiberglass body. I think the process would be challenging and fun. It also allows me to create something that I couldn't otherwise just buy since the body I have in mind isn't sold in a fiberglass or metal form. The idea is to make a 28-29 roadster pickup body like the body in my avatar, but rework the back of it to be less squared off and more round like the 30-31 RPU body. I would also stretch it a bit for some more room.

Anyway, as I was researching how folks make such bodies at home, I saw a lot of people starting with a buck made of plywood and foam. Once they get the shape they want, they fiberglass over that to make a mold, and then remove the mold and lay fiberglass in that to create the final product. To add strength to a simple fiberglass body, I have seen many of the skilled builders on this site and others reinforce the inside of the fiberglass shell with wood and foam, and then glass over that. So my thought is this: If I can make a "buck" that has the proper negative spaces for the inside of the body, would there be any issue with glassing over both sides of my buck to create a body? I know there would be a lot of sanding getting the fiberglass I lay down smooth for paint, but structurally I think it would end up being incredibly strong. I could make it as thick or thin as I wanted in certain areas and the whole thing would be wood and foam core sandwiched between layers of fiberglass. Has anyone tried such a thing?
The closest i ever came to what you are describing is when i modified a 32 ford fiberglass hood , to fit my 23 T project car. I made a skeleton out of pine wood. I cut out several ribs & pieced them together with horizontal ribs. I made some fiberglass sheets to skin the skeleton . I also incorporated many pieces of the 32 ford fiberglass hood. I used my firewall as a pattern for my largest rib , i used my track T nose as a pattern for my smallest rib. I connected the 2 ribs together with some horizontal ribs. I used 2 layers of 1 1/2 oz fiberglass mat to make my fiberglass sheets (for skinning my pine wood skeleton. To reiterate : this is the closest i have come to making an entire body.
Donny, this very close to what I had in mind and I appreciate these pictures. The only difference for me would be using foam in between the wood ribs to help define the shape over the whole surface. Having done a hood do you think a body is doable or a fool's errand?
Very doable but very time consuming. If there is anything close to what you want it would be easier and much faster to modify an existing part.
Using foam between the ribs would work. I agree with ORF , that's mostly what i do (modify existing parts). I buy already existent fiberglass parts & i modify them. The hood frame work was my first attempt at building a framework. I cut a 32 ford fiberglass hood into pieces and then i added them to my hood framework. I also used fiberglass sheets (which i made).Youtube has a lot of how to videos for building car bodies. I've seen a few of them.
Thanks for the feedback everyone. I'll continue to mull this one over a bit and see what I decide. If I pull the trigger, I'll certainly share my experiences on this great site.

Is this the instruction video you are referring tofiberglass_DVD_box_photo.jpg ?? I have this video & I DON'T like his methods. I watched other fellows " how to " videos on youtube. The instructor in this video PALES compared to the other BODY BUILDERS. JMHO.
Last edited:
That’s the one. That is how Roth did it. More people are now carving foam for the buck but that ts way more expensive. I think if you could get close with some structure and refine with the plaster and vermiculite you could do pretty good. There are also a lot of videos on building Velomobile (streamlined human powered vehicles aka bikes). They use a lot of foam for the bucks.
Hi ORF . What about this young mans methods? YouTube>MacroMachines. He built a frame and then he built a body on it.He skinned the framework with sheet aluminum. He could've used fiberglass sheets instead. He built a complete turn key car.
Last edited:
In the early days i used to use polyurethane panels (normally used for insulation). They're available in 4' x 8' sheets in various thicknesses. The can easily be shaped with sanding blocks & electric turkey carving knives. IN many cases you can leave the sheets in place for insulation & sound deadening. Once you have the shape you want , you just simply glass on top of it .

     Ron Pope Motorsports                Advertise with Us!