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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Has anyone built a '33 Hot Rod in the Raleigh, NC area? or is anyone building one at all in North Carolina?

----- I apologize upfront for the length of detail I've posted here.------
----- Sorry, I got carried away. ------

I would like to see their build or be taken for a ride in their car to get a feel for what the build and final product is like. I am strongly considering one. I have been considering a kit car build for years, though most kits I've considered are the minimalist, exo-skeleton ones in the vein of an ariel atom. Most recently, I thought I would build an MEV/ Exomotive Exocet or their new, more enclosed version called a MEVster (Exomotive.com), since I own a '99 Mazda Miata. However, in light of my wife's suddenly-surfaced disinterest in a totally open toy, I'm looking into more enclosed cars that might still have some practical use.

I'm anxious to get some idea of any sort of Hot Rod build, but I'd really love it if I could inspect a build that has leaned toward creature comforts or minimum spec, at least relative to most hot rod builds...NVH.. dynamat, softer suspension and more modest tires, preference for softer bushings, more compliant mounting isolation for body/ roof. maybe an IRS rearend. I'm particularly concerned about the roof and window fit/seals and NVH and different ways to stiffen the mountings and reduce any shimmying/creaking at any tube/fiberglass and fiberglass/fiberglass junctions. I'm not sure if anyone has undertaken custom rubber bushings for where bodywork and tubes intersect or where tube and hinges pass through one another. I totally understand that is somewhat away from the spirit of the vehicle, but the more civil I can make the car, the more likely starting this project is going to go smoothly.

When I discussed the Hot Rod rather than the MEVster last night, she kept asking me about safety, and she didn't believe me that it would be better in a lot of crashes than her Mazda CX-7. ...It just occurred to me that maybe she didn't understand that the car only resembled a classic car, rather than being a cleverly styled sports/racing car. But now that I have this realization, I think that explaining its safety ability is still going to be dubious to her at the next opportunity to discuss the topic.

Anything that could help me to sell the safety aspect would be appreciated. All I currently have to say is that it is a thoroughly modern triangulated tubeframe, "more like a nascar, not at all a '30s car." Then I could show her a classic ladderframe and its archaic beam axle front end for comparison. I could also and show how the hot rod is more like a prowler up front, since that's probably the most similar production car suspension she'd somewhat recognize. I could probably show her a handling video to show how in excess of safe handling it is. I'm not sure she understood that either, but I imagine that aspect won't be as hard to explain as the impact-safety abilities of a tube frame like the Hot Rod, since she might be able to discern that a Nascar is large diameter tube with squarer junctions and doesn't have doors. Rally cars and touring cars generally do have extensive, occasionally trangulated tube cages, but they still retain unibody construction. I can't think of any kits that have noted crash performance, anecdotal or tested. Moslers have tube subframes but composite tubs... maybe an ultima has been in a crash?

I'm planning on spreading the whole thing out over 2.5-3 years, taking advantage of the stages. I'm also considering putting in as cheap and beat up parts as I can find, just to get the thing done for as little money as possible, and then to start upgrading after driving the car for a few months to my family and friends' approval. I am too entertwined with all of these people in my daily life to deal with a lack of time allocation and general disinterest in faciliating a project they think is a drain on ~more legitimate~ priorities.

I've been a white-gloved car enthusiast my whole life, and finally passed the NC state bar in July. I have done some wrenching, but yes, I am still arguably a newbie. I will obviously be acquiring lots of necessary tools and will be consulting a few mechanics I know for nitty gritty build advice, and there are a number of cobra guys in the area. But all anyone has seen me do is study, despite always having planned this sort of thing. It was even the point of this 6-7 year goosechase: to have certainty in enough disposable income that I could do this sort of thing with cars without in threatening cost of living. I am only 30 and haven't yet started working. I won't be buying anything for at least 6 months, but I have no debt. Yes, I'm very fortunate. But that's not the point. I want this to be beyond question, and the end product to be distinctly car-like so the dissention will stop.

Many of them don't know any other car guys (These people are mostly workaholic shut-in professionals without hobbies and few carguy acquaintances), and they need to see me complete something totally beyond their expectations (even if only a modest-effort compared to a lot of builds. I will be experimenting with the enamel and mineral spirits paint method on some scrap metal in the garage shortly, for example) to finally alleviate their concerns. That's another reason for picking an enclosed car with doors rather than an exoskeletal vehicle. I'm trying to avoid anyone saying something to the effect of: "you've built a toy, a four-wheeled motorcycle, not a car, at significant expense, and you'll never get your money back."

That last bit about the value is probably a criticism I'll just have to deal with because it's already a preestablished conclusion without logical support, so I can't really attack it on logic. These people tend to keep cars forever, to the point of total depreciation, in complete denial of the fact that they have no interest in actually ever reselling and never interally tally their tremendous maintenance costs. Dad has had two first-gen Audi A8s, for example. It's in the shop every week for something. Total lemon.

So I think that even the most comprehensive showing that a car assembled like the Hot Rod will only depreciate according to its parts, and the total expense would exceed the value only by a certain amount and then barely depreciate at all for years, let alone the fraction of repairs that would require someone else doing the work. If anyone has had success on that front, I'd love to hear about it, since I think that one is just something I'll have to tolerate.

I'd have considered a Project 818, but there's no telling when that will be offered with an enclosed roof and/or been assembled in a way that I'm anticipating attempting. Also, let me know if the "minimum spec and modify later" is a waste of time and/or money, compared to building with what I'd like from the get-go.

What I'd like, btw, is:
- fresh or refurbished 302 crate with fuel injection. Light, low, cheap, tucked in, easy to reach, sounds good, torquey, easy on gas, as I want it to be a daily driver. I'd rather not have a wide and tall modular ford, to minimize roll moment of inertia in anticipation of allowing a potentially softer suspension an easier time keeping everything in control. I want it to be a daily driver, not necessarily a monster. I would love a Chevy LS, but... that's probably overkill. 300+ hp in a 2000lb car really ought to be enough. 6.7 lb:hp is half the weight per power of my current daily driver (2006 Lincoln LS v8).
- I'd probably fit the four-link rearend as I'm not looking for max performance. I'm pretty sure the minimum handling will still be amazing to me, and so I want ride to be a priority, though I doubt any cheap IRS will be worth the expense to my purposes, much as I'd like it.
- Rearend and transmission will preferably be tall-geared. Don't need the 0-60 times under 4 seconds as much as reasonable economy. Pretty sure it'll be a T56 or other manual, but a 4-speed auto seems a bit tempting after test driving a Subaru Legacy wagon for my wife's next car... that was super-smooth.... nah, it'll be a stick.
- Tires will probably be pretty modest in width and grip performance. Probably 15 or 16 inch wheels to allow for taller sidewalls and lower overall unsprung weight.
- Minimum brakes will probably be fine.
- Cycle fenders, those nifty tapered rear fenders I've seen on a few hot rods from that shop in redondo beach, CA, not the FFR rear fenders.
- probably modest or performance wheels rather than something really flashy... Again, the lightweight aspect is to create as much ride compliance as possible. I might lean toward some multispokes, as they could be a good way to hide the small brakes I plan to use... maybe a 10 spoke pattern that are grouped into overlapping 5 spoke arrangements, that are logically shaped to allow for:
- two-tone colors matching whatever two-tone paint setup I hope to do... maybe white on top of dark, with gold or silver stripe along the beltline feature and the roof arc. But I don't know yet. I could imagine getting polished wheels with a black-painted inset section.

Right, so that was a lot more than I expected to write, but this is very important to me, and the thing I'm supposed to be doing is the last thing I want to do.


245 Posts
When I discussed the Hot Rod rather than the MEVster last night, she kept asking me about safety, and she didn't believe me that it would be better in a lot of crashes than her Mazda CX-7. ...
I don't know if I'd try and sell my wife on the safety aspect. A Cx-7 is, I'm sure, quite superior to the 33 in terms of safety. The 33 has no collapsing steering column, no air bags, minimal side protection, and minimal rollover protection. Moreover, the brakes are no match for a CX-7. I drove a CX-7 for 4 years and I was amazed at how well it stopped. 60 to 0 in 112 feet was Road and Tracks figure if I remember correctly. The 33 has no bumpers so even a mild front or rear impact is going to be costly. I guess one could address some of these areas by installing a cage but it would not be easy or cheap.

"you've built a toy, a four-wheeled motorcycle, not a car, at significant expense, and you'll never get your money back."
Not likely to get out of it what you put into it. A reasonable estimate for the build is probably 40 to 45 thousand if you do most of the work yourself. Others can chime in and say I'm wrong but I just know that's about what it's gonna cost me. I don't know exactly what these would sell for but 30 to 35 thousand is what I have seen as asking prices. It's almost always cheaper to buy a finished car of any kind than it is to build it. You could be correct about the depreciation factor I don't think that can assessed as they haven't been around very long.

But for me, all of the arguments against it don't really matter. I wanted to build one and that's what I'm doing. Is it safe? By today's standards probably not but I sure drove a lot of vehicles that weren't as safe as the 33 in the 60's and 70's. You only go around once and life is not safe. If you are a Ralph Nader type you might want to look elsewhere but if you like to feel that kick in the ass from a car you built yourself then you will like the 33. :w00t:
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