The Hot Rod is a distinctly American pastime. Oftentimes, we think it’s an unattainable dream. Other times, we think that it’s rightfully a money pit – which is what discourages many from taking up one of America’s great pastimes and hobbies (that has its own vibrant subculture).
The thing is, at the risk of oversimplifying things, is that there is a way for you to get into the whole hot rod subculture – and you don’t even have to have a endless supply of money to finance your dreams (although we’ll be the first to admit that it will help).
You CAN build and design the hot rod of your dreams
1. Keep Realistic Expectations
Before you even consider purchasing a ’49 Mercury and entertain yourself with delusions of being a future hot rod owner, you’ll need to keep yourself grounded. See, the first thing you understand, before you imagine yourself zipping through the highways on said ’49 Merc, is that these cars are over 70 years old. There WILL be problems you’ll be facing, and many of them will be unpleasant and could drive you away before even you get started.
Just hearing the machine rev, and get adoring looks everywhere you go, even at 20 mph, and for a short drive, will be worth all the time you spent. Anything more is a gift from the hot rod gods.
2. Know What You Want, Because Building a Hot Rod Takes Time
The main problem facing many aspiring hot rod owners, builders and designers is that you’ll expect and want to drive that car as soon as you can, otherwise your project may stall, and you may very well end up losing your interest. Understand that your estimates as to how long you’ll be building your hot rod will probably twice or thrice of your estimate, so you should expect to spend a little.
3. Consider Adopting Someone Else’s Abandoned Project
This is probably the best route to take, especially if you’re interested in just learning the ins and outs of classic hot rod restoration, design, and building. It’s the fastest way to learn the skills you need to move on to bigger and better things, and should keep you busy for the years to come.
4. Educate Yourself
This is in line with the latter; persevere, and learn from the grizzled veterans of the hot rod circuit in your neighborhood – there’s always one. Do not for a second believe that throwing money around will fix all your problems….or you’ll probably find your hobby quickly becoming a money pit. It may solve a few problems here and there, but do know that hot rods require constant care and service. It’s not going to be a daily driver, that’s for sure….but you already knew that, right?
5. Know Where to Find Parts and Equipment
This is probably one of the most important factors to understand when you start off hot rods….in fact, it applies to every hobby you take up. As parts and equipment you need to build hot rods are circulating in the market, special care must be taken to research stuff you need to build your hot rod with. DON’T EVER FALL FOR THE OLD “ILLUSION OF SCARCITY” trick! There’s always going to be something out there that will be better value for your money. Unscrupulous people know a mark when they see one, and are only too willing to make a fool part with their money, so don’t be that mark.
Lastly, try to source your equipment by going through the secondhand market; everything you need, such as iron, machinery, parts, chassis, even plasma cutters and the items you need to make large-scale bodywork can be found for a decent price if you know where to look for. Even the perfect plasma cutters for portable use can be found.
Hopefully this has given you a valuable knowledge base from where to work from; now it’s time for you to take things to another level. Happy hunting!