Scratch-building a Hotrod

Building a Hot Rod from Scratch!

This week three students started their one month plus Extended Learning Class at my shop. Jim wanted to build a Hot Rod from scratch, Lou is converting a 1967 Maserati Mistral fastback coupe into a Spyder, Harvey is building a body for a 1955 Lotus IX racecar.

Jim purchased a frame kit from Steve’s House of Speed in NY which included a pair of 1932 Ford frame rails, front axle, suspension bits, brackets, etc. all for under $2000.00. Today he purchased two new wire wheels and tires, smaller for the front and larger for the back. He has never scratch-built a project like this. First he is building a conceptual wireform, which will be later refined and made very accurate. The conceptual wireform allows Jim to create the overall design and the correct amount of space needed to comfortably drive the car. For power he is using an all aluminum Pontiac Solstice 4 cly 2.4 EcoTec which included an aluminum five speed transmission. The rear end is from a Ford Mustang, which Jim purchased separately.

Pictures of Jim’s project below.

Next week Jim will be refining the conceptual wireform and designing with a wireform the dropped floorpan which will include the transmission and driveshaft covers and also the firewall which eventually will all be made from 1/8″ aluminum sheet bent and welded into an extremely strong assembly. The inner structure for the body will also be made from 1/8″ aluminum sheet weldments.

Jim designed the body so far with help from me along the way. He wanted an all aluminum body with a nice flow and room to be comfortable, I think he has created an excellent design and made a great start.

When the tires and wheels arrive it will be determined how much the frame rails will be needing to be modified in order to allow enough suspension travel.

Jim continued working on his scratch-build hot rod wireform design. Friday his new tires and wheels were delivered. The order was screwed up and they sent regular wheels instead of wires. They are shipping out the wires next week. Here are a few pictures of the wireform mock-up. The design looks awesome.


Jim decided on revising his original plan and slant the cowl while also adding some reverse curves in the rear of the body. He added the doors and filled in the rest of the body. Trying to get it ready for our upcoming coachbuilding class.

During our 4 day coachbuilding class the students loved the idea of working on Jims Hot rod. Many of our students have never worked with a wireform buck before and quickly realized it’s benefits. You can see how the panel fits, you have the ability to clamp the panel to the buck and if necessary use the buck as a hammer form. 


Jim is back and super happy with the results of this past weekend’s four day coachbuilding class. Two students (Jimmy and Jason) from Field Farrar’s Metal Union shop in Atlanta are staying through Friday as part of the ongoing 130 hr Coachbuilding Class Special. While here they are learning and continuing to provide help for Extended Learning student Jim Parker with his scratch-built hot rod project.
Today Jimmy and Jim are working on the grille wireform design and Jason is shaping the rear body cove panels which will be welded in when completed. Jim plans to revise the lower rear of the boat-tail by adding a lower element to provide fullness to the rear body section. Jim has never wire-formed a shape before starting this project- he is really picking it up quickly and loving the process.

More progress pictures later in the week.

The body design work is finished. Today Jim mocked up the engine location to allow mocking up/designing of the sunken floors, transmission cover, firewall, footboxes/pedals, and drive shaft tunnel. All of the panels made at the February, 2019 ProShaper four day class are now off the wireform and will be refined and welded by the Advanced/Finishing class starting tomorrow.