How To Build a Cheap Hot Rod


The ever-escalating cost of building or buying a hot rod is leaving more and more would-be hot rodders behind. This book will get those hopefuls off the sidelines by showing how a hot rod can be built for less than the cost of, say, a new Hyundai.

Author Dennis Parks documents his own project—building a quintessentially cool Model T roadster from a "Track-T" kit—showing in step-by-step detail how to turn a pile of parts into a rockin hot rod. ...

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The ever-escalating cost of building or buying a hot rod is leaving more and more would-be hot rodders behind. This book will get those hopefuls off the sidelines by showing how a hot rod can be built for less than the cost of, say, a new Hyundai.

Author Dennis Parks documents his own project—building a quintessentially cool Model T roadster from a "Track-T" kit—showing in step-by-step detail how to turn a pile of parts into a rockin hot rod. He provides a detailed, easy-to-follow guide for building a car of your own.

The advice and instructions cover every aspect of an affordable hot rod build, from establishing the target vehicle and budget, to finding parts, building the car, and fine tuning the finished vehicle on the road.

With Parks' money-saving tips and photo-supported how-to sequences, virtually anyone with minimal mechanical skills and the will to use them can be sure of building their hot rod right, and for the right price. The book also includes a full resource guide and recommendations for further reading.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780760323489
  • Publisher: Motorbooks
  • Publication date: 11/15/2007
  • Series: Motorbooks Workshop Series
  • Edition description: First
  • Pages: 192
  • Sales rank: 960,504
  • Product dimensions: 8.37 (w) x 11.00 (h) x 0.62 (d)

Meet the Author

Dennis W. Parks has written several best-selling how-to books for the Motorbooks Workshop series, including How to Paint Your Car, How to Build a Cheap Hot Rod, Hot Rod Body and Chassis Builder's Guide, and The Complete Guide to Auto Body Repair. Parks' personal projects currently include a complete buildup of a 1955 Chevy pickup truck. He lives in Cedar Hill, Missouri.

Dennis Parks is a professional technical writer and the author of several how-to books for MBI, including How to Build a Hot Rod, How to Build a Hot Rod Model A Ford, How to Restore and Customize Auto Upholstery and Interiors, and How to Paint Your Car. He lives near St. Louis, Missouri.

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Table of Contents





Chapter One: Build It in Your Mind     

What You Want versus What You Can Afford

Type of Vehicle           

What You Already Have         

Dream Vehicle 

Major Components     




Other Components      


Wheels and Tires         

Brake System  

Fuel System     

Cooling System           

Everything Else

Budgeting Money        

Lump Sum Available    

Pay as You Go

Budgeting Time

Do It Yourself 

Trading Work  

Sidebar: Photo Collection of Relatively Low-Dollar Hot Rods to Inspire Creativity . . .  

Chapter Two: Where to Find Parts      

Swap Meet     

Visual and Hands-On Inspection          


Immediate Availability  

Bargain Prices 

Cash Is King   


Sight Unseen   

Photos at Best 

Questionable Description         

Not 100 Percent Accurate Condition   

May Not Be What It Is Thought to Be 

Shipping Expense        

Additional Methods of Payment           



Credit Cards   

  Certified Check

Classified Ads 

Poor Quality Photos    

Questionable Description         

Limited Methods of Payment   

Local Hot Rod Shop or Auto Parts Store         

Can Offer Expertise     

New Parts, More Expensive    


New Parts, More Expensive    

Wide Selection of Parts and Manufacturers      

Shipping Expense

Chapter Three: The Rolling Chassis      






Collision Damage         

Rust Repair     



Assembling the Front Suspension         

Rear Axle Housing       



Wheels and Tires         

Priming and Painting Wheels    

Sidebar: Rattle Can versus Automotive Paint versus Powder Coating    

Mounting and Balancing Tires  

Assembling the Rear Suspension          

Setting the Pinion Angle           


Installing Front Brakes 

Installing Rear Brakes  

Installing the Master Cylinder   

Routing, Bending, and Installing Brake Lines     

Sidebar: Bare Steel versus Chrome versus Stainless Steel         

Chapter Four: Body




Fitting Body Aprons    

Mounting the Body on the Chassis

Attaching the Floor to the Body           

Sidebar: Reworking the Floor  

Mounting Taillights (Including a Third Brake Light)       

Fitting the Nose and Hood Sides          

Installing the Grille        

Fastening the Hood Panels

Building and Mounting the Dash           

Mounting the Windshield Frame           

Sidebar: Repair

Collision Damage         

Rust Repair     

Sidebar: Modifications 

Top Chop       


Chapter Five: Drivetrain

  Salvage Yard or Parts Vehicle           


  Crate Engine  

  Installing Motor Mounts         

Painting the Engine       


Salvage Yard or Parts Vehicle 



Polishing the Transmission for some Cheap Sparkle      

Installing the Engine and Transmission

Obstacles to Overcome           

Mounting the Exhaust   

Connecting the Shifter and Linkage      

Connecting the Emergency Brake Lever and Cables     

Measuring for and Installing the Driveshaft        

Chapter Six: Additional Systems          


Building the Fuel Tank 

Testing the Fuel Tank for Leaks           

Mounting the Fuel Tank and Filler Neck

Routing the Fuel Line   


Mounting the Radiator 


Mounting the Transmission Cooler       


Installing the Steering Column and Wheel         

Steering Shafts, Universal Joints, and Shaft Supports    



Mounting the Battery   

Mounting Gauges

Fuse Panel       

Determining What You Need   

Installing the Fuse Panel           


Engine Compartment   

Running Lights and Signal Lights           

Brake Lights    


Wiring the Vehicle       

Electrical Ground         

Wiring the Gauges       

Sender (or Signal Power)         

Power Wire     

Ground Wire   

Chapter Seven: Paint, Upholstery, and Glass    

Final Bodywork and Surface Preparation         

Applying Primer           

Applying Sealer           

Applying Paint 

Base Coat       

Clear Coat      

Laying Out Scallops     

Layout  146

Scuffing the Existing Paint         


Painting Scallops          

Applying Base Coat to Scallops           

Applying Clear Coat to Entire Vehicle  




Interior Panels 



Installing Windshield Glass       

Chapter Eight: Now that It’s Built . . . Enjoy     

Before That First Drive

Double Check Everything        

Tighten Fasteners         

Check Fluids   

Hot Rod Start-Up Checklist    

Hot Rod First Drive Checklist  

Obtaining a Title          

Getting It Inspected     

Wheel Alignment         

Getting It Licensed       

Road Trip        

The Bottom Line          

Lessons Learned         


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