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  1. #61
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    DFW, Texas
    Country Flag: United States


    Quote Originally Posted by Build-It-Break-It View Post
    I think even tho YOU consider it a Muscle car most wouldn't and it's off topic of what the original poster is looking for I think.

    On another note I'd like everyone to meet my friends. They have shells, weapons and they're green. By definition they're my friends the ninja turtles......
    Well done, sir.
    1972 Plymouth 'Cuda - Not LS-swapped, 5.7L Hemi [MS3 Gold Box], T56 Magnum 6-speed1976 Dodge D100 - Warlock
    2016 BMW X1
    2016 Subaru WRX

  2. #62
    Join Date
    Oct 2004


    I have built cars for $15,000 [years ago] and for $500,000 [for a customer]. The $500,000 builds are not as much fun as it would appear…unlimited budgets come with unlimited expectations. They also take so long that there is the constant fear of obsolescence before its done.

    My son and I are putting the finishing touches on a 1970 LS5 4 speed SS Chevelle that I picked up as a painted but unfinished project about 2 1/2 years ago. Totally rust free and complete except for the actual engine. $23K delivered from California to Indiana. We are building this car in our home garage instead of running through the normal ridetech shop. I did not have a particular budget in mind, but the goal was to build him a car that was fun, reliable and cool for as little money as possible. I have not yet kept track of the invoices but I have them and will tally and report back here.
    I had a used LS3 E-rod engine that still ran nicely so I hooked that up to the original M21 Muncie with a Quicktime bellhousing and a Centerforce clutch. As a hotrodder, I felt it my duty to learn how to rebuild a Muncie 4 speed transmission! The oem 3:30 ratio 12 bolt was fine so we left it alone except for rebuilding the rear drum brakes. Now I remember why I always hated drum brakes, but they work fine for this car so they’ll stay. A future upgrade would be pretty easy.

    We installed one of our streetgrip suspension systems to make the Chevelle ride and handle like a new performance car. We upgraded the front brakes to a 4 piston Baer system that will fit under the repro 15x8 Magnum wheels. If I were intending to autocross this car I would have chosen a 17” wheel with BFG Sport Comp tires or the equivalent, but for street cruising the TA Radials are just fine and give us the image we are looking for.
    We used a GM Performance LS1 carburetor intake with a Fitech throttle body EFI with an MSD ignition controller. I bought a cheap set of shorty stainless headers and a Dirty Dingo engine mount kit off Ebay. Fit perfect. I used the new ceramic boot MSD wires to eliminate any problems with the headers burning the plug wires. We built a bracket to relocate the coil packs on the firewall near the oem distributor location. I covered all this up with a repro cowl induction air clean and a set of used aluminum Corvette valve covers with ICT adapter plates. With the engine painted orange it really looks like a small block at first glance. A TANKS, Inc fuel tank with an internal pump supplies the fuel. I had a Magnaflow stainless exhaust left over from another project, so we adapted that to the Ebay stainless headers and bolted up to the car. It fit nicely and sounds awesome!

    We used an American Autowire Hiway 22 wiring system to rewire the car. I used LED build everywhere to brighten up the car and lessen the load on the electrical system.
    The aluminum radiator and Spall electric fans came from PRC. I used a Vintage Air Frontrunner and AC system. A little expensive but I have used dozens of these with perfect results. I had a set of use Cerullo seats from another project that I adapted to the oem sliders. The original SS dash was shot so I installed a new repro dash shell with Dakota Digital VHX gauges. We also installed a small Kicker sound system and an oem looking leather wrapped steering wheel. I used some ebay off brand Dynamat copy sound deadener and ACC carpet on the floors. We installed a Spal power window conversion that interfaces with the oem manual window cranks. I’ve used many of those…works great and they’re $100/pair on Amazon.

    We replaced all the interior panels, weatherstripping, emblems, and such with reproduction stuff, mostly from Summit. Certainly not a requirement if you are trying to save money, but I like things nice and this car may be sold to finance his new car or a house at some point. The glass was all good, as were the bumpers and most of the trim. We only replaced what was truly crusty or missing. The console was busted up a bit, but we epoxied it back together and repainted to save about $1000 for a new repro unit.

    The paint was 25 years old and scruffy, but the body was rock solid and straight. We touched up a few chips, ignored a couple of pecker dents, and worked down the touchups with progressively finer grits up to 2000 grit paper. We are using Adams Polished products to buff the paint up to its new glossy finish.

    With everything done now except for the buffing we have about 500 miles on the car. It starts and runs like a [very fast] rental car. It sounds great and drives like a dream. The handling is sharp, the ride quality is the best of anything I own. The seats are comfy and supportive. The stereo needs a little tuning to sound its best. I had to install a smaller clutch master cylinder to get the pedal feel that I wanted. I would not be unhappy driving this car across the country knowing that nearly anything on it could be found at Autozone or a GM dealership. My son learned a few things about tools and cars [and life��] and I got to remind myself how to build a car! We intentionally did not lean on my industry contacts for special deals on these parts…we bought nearly everything from Summit, Amazon, or Ebay. Summit was usually the least expensive, Amazon was usually the most convenient, and Ebay filled in the gaps.

    Andy and I are considering doing a series of videos about this car and our experiences with building and driving it. Maybe we’ll call it “How to build a happy hotrod”.

    Here is my top 5 list of areas to look at for any car build, but especially one with a budget:

    1. Build the car you really want. Even on a budget, you are going to spend tens of thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours on this project. Don’t build a Pinto just because its cheap. If you want a Camaro…find one. And find one in a color you can stand. Paint and bodywork are always the most expensive and hard to change items in any build. Ignore resale value, it prevents decisions made with passion.

    2. Decide how you are going to use the car 80% of the time. A street cruiser that you autocross or road race three time per year is a very different build from a dedicated race car.

    3. Ergonomics are very important in both a street car and a race car. Pedal position, seat position, sound and heat insulation, AC, cruise control, stereo, comfy steering wheel, power windows…all these things enhance the overall driving experience. You DO want a better driving experience, right? If you don’t, I’ll bet your wife/girlfriend does. Think about how much fun you two will have enjoying this car together…and how much easier it will be to build the next one with her cooperation!

    4. Think…REALLY think about the areas of the car that are most important to you. Maybe its horsepower, maybe its ride quality or handling performance. Maybe its paint and bodywork. Prioritize and optimize these areas, and compromise on the areas that are less important to you. Don’t spend years chasing perfection. If you end up a little unhappy with the results of your work in some area, pleadge to de it better on the next project. Chip Foose once told me “ I have yet to build the perfect car”.

    5. Don’t be afraid to invest in good tools and equipment to help make your build [and all the others that come after] easier. This is likely not the last car that you will build. Good tools and equipment will last a lifetime and make your life easier. I have always considered the journey at least as important as the destination.
    Bret Voelkel
    Air Ride Technologies, Inc.

    If it breaks...fix it!

  3. #63
    Join Date
    May 2009


    Quote Originally Posted by Ron Sutton View Post
    Hey Steve! This is a GREAT idea. I think we'll get people sharing tips to save money, build things right and figure out the priorities. Love it.

    I'll start by adding some thoughts ...

    1. Figure out BEFORE your build even starts:
    a. How you want to use the car
    b. What are your goals for the car
    c. What are your priorities from a & b
    d. Timeline to have the car done & enjoying driving it

    With all of the above, be realistic with yous:
    A. Hours available & timeline to build
    B. Money saved & money you can set aside each month
    C. Your skills ... and skills of friends who will help ... that you can do yourself
    D. What has to be outsourced
    E. What needs to be bought new & what can be bought used

    Write up a list of what you want to do ... along with projected cost & hours ... for:
    * Base car
    * Body & Paint
    * Interior
    * Suspension
    * Rear end & 3rd Member
    * Trans & Driveline
    * Engine & Accessories
    * Exhaust
    * Brakes
    * Amenities (A/C, stereo, etc)

    Ask yourself is this build realistic with my time & budget to get done in 1 year, 2 years, longer?
    Then figure out if you need to trim or increase the budget to achieve what you want.

    My suggestion ... and this is ONLY my opinion. Do not come up with unrealistic build goals, that take many years to get the car done. Some people enjoy the build MORE than driving the car. I don't think this advice applies to you. But those of you that want to be out there driving, autocrossing and/or tracking your car ... my suggestion is don't make the goal so lofty the project takes forever to get done. I see projects taking 3, 4, 5 even 10 years to build. Shoot ... if I was in your shoes, I'd skip the $20,000 paint job & run that puppy the way the paint is. Or go do a $2,000 body wrap & call it good.

    Just my opinion. Best wishes all !

    P.S. When I get more time, I'll come back on here & share ways to make your car perform at a high level, without wasting money.

    couldnt agree more with this. I have stayed about 75% on track with my original build plan for my car and of those 25% or so changes have been just slight upgrades over the past 10 years of the build but nothing crazy. On the other hand, I have a friend who is working on a truck for a guy now that his entire build is a completely different truck now than when it started so nothing "fits" as it should. The truck started as a 100% nut and bolt resto with a 6cly w3 on the tree, over the coarse of the build, he started adding bigger brakes, bigger tires to compensate, cam, etc to compensate for each that just keep adding to the build and costing him way more. Now the truck looks "funny" as it doesnt really go together anymore as he wants it to be a sport truck.
    In short, make an entire plan for what you want and stick to it because its way to easy to upscale the build into a financial disaster.

  4. #64
    Join Date
    Aug 2007


    How about a 1/2 ton truck of some sort? Could be a Chev or Dodge or Ford. Early C10's have gone crazy price wise. Square bodies are more reasonable. Dodge and Fords are typically less money. I'm not sure about the aftermarket support for the Dodge's. Tons of stuff available for the Chevs and Fords.

    Seems to me if the goal is a very competitive autocross car it has to be light, short wheel base and somewhat narrow. Camaros, Monte Carlo's, C4 Corvettes and such are kind of big cars for a tight autocross course.

    It's a bit out there but how about a 97-2006 Wrangler. I only reason I suggest is that I've have driven a 98 Wrangler with a LS6/4L60E for over ten years. Not set up for autocross just fun daily driver. I thought if you lose the front straight axle and transfer case with some type of independent front suspension. Lower it down. The rear is already a four link design. I swapped in a Explorer 8.8 rear end. They are cheap. Add some wide wheels and tires. Easy to cover them up with wide aftermarket flares. Wranglers have a pretty decent rectangular frame. Wheel base is short. Lose the four wheel drive stuff and the top and doors maybe weighs 3200 lbs? If you don't get too crazy you can still daily drive it at least in the summer. Just a thought.

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