Vette-Rod Building Basics: Getting Started

What you need to know when considering a Vette rod

Rich Lagasse Jan 5, 2006 0 Comment(s)

Do-It-Yourself vs. Outsourcing

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The cost of outside expert help can add up quickly, so how much you doyourself is a major cost factor. Most individuals will need some help inthese projects. Identifying reliable sources for the work you don't doyourself can take a bit of research but is a good investment of yourtime.

Also, don't underestimate the time involved in laying out your plan andmanaging the project. You'll be spending a lot of time sourcing partsand keeping tabs on how the outsourced work is progressing. The more youcan do yourself, the more control you have over costs and the timeframefor completing the project.

Project Costs

Each car of this type can be finished to an endless variety of levels,so the cost of someone else's project won't necessarily berepresentative of what your car might cost. Projects usually fall intoone of three categories with escalating costs. The first is where you doall the work yourself; the second is you do some and outsource otherwork; and the third is a turnkey car.

One of the most important component cost drivers is the condition of thecar you use. For us, the ideal car for this type of project is anon-matching-numbers car with a decent body, the majority of its trimpresent, and without its engine. In this type of project, you are reallyundertaking two projects at the same time. The first is the restorationof the car itself (body work, paint, interior, wiring, chrome, andmore), and the second is the cost of the new components (drivetrain,suspension, brakes, cooling system, computer and wiring harness, wheels,and so on).

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Also, don't overlook the cost of the tools you will need. You may havethe basic tools but there are always others which will be helpful, andshould you need a good reason to rationalize getting them, this is yourchance.

There is no accurate way to estimate what building a car will costunless you factor in all the variables of your plan. Even ballparkfigures can be misleading since there are so many variables. Once you'vedecided who will do the work, to what level you want to build the car,and you've identified all the components for the exterior, chassis,suspension, drivetrain, interior, and so on, you can research thevarious sources and estimate the costs for the components and labor. Youcan offset some of the costs for the new components by selling parts youwill not use. For example, if using a new chassis, selling the originalrolling chassis (if in good shape) can help offset much of the costs ofa new frame.

Once you've tallied the costs of parts and labor, deduct any amountsyou can make from selling. Then add another 30 percent for those thingsyou can't anticipate in advance. Whether it's building a car of thistype or a restoration, it will usually cost more and take longer thanyou thought.

A Pessimistic View of Car Project Phases

The importance of planning and research to a successful project can't beoverstated. Here, in chronological order, is a humorous view of whatcould happen without planning and research:

* Bright Idea and Planning Phase: Excitement and enthusiasm overcomelogic, reason, and advice of others, but you have a concrete plan andbudget laid out.

* Search for the Holy Grail Phase: Reality begins to set in asfinding the right car is more elusive than you thought.

* Car Acquired Phase: Beginning of realization that what you boughthas no resemblance to what it looked like when you bought it.

* Reality Check No. 1 Phase: Concrete plan shows first signs ofcracks, rethinking what you have gotten yourself into, double timeframeof initial plan, double initial budget, attempt to pump up enthusiasm.

* Fresh Start Phase: Based on new plan and budget, begin to questionsanity, alter components, modify plan, and second-guess your reasoning.

* Determination Phase: Ignore all obstacles, press forward withrevised plan, and try to enlist others to help and share the pain.

* Reality Check No. 2 Phase: Having found few willing to share thework or the pain, broaden search for anyone who is willing to take yourmoney.

* Disassembly Phase: Disassemble entire car, lose track of criticalparts, fill basement, garage, attic, and dining room with greasy pieces.

* Construction Phase: First attempt to bring all the old and newparts into harmony.

* Reality Check No. 3 Phase: Failing to achieve harmony, beginseeking professional help to achieve a drivable car.

* Marriage Counseling Phase: Try to repair damage to familyrelationships and reacquaint yourself with the kids and dog.

* Vacation Phase: Things have got to look better after a long cruise.
* Reality Check No. 4 Phase: Things really don't look any better, butyou've invested so much in the project that you might as well get backat it--or sell it.

* Placing Ads for Unfinished Project Phase: You decide to get a boatinstead and sail away into the sunset.

Final Thoughts

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One of the driving forces behind the interest in these cars is the loveof the classic styling and the desire to enjoy the performance andcomforts we sometimes take for granted with modern cars. Whichever typeof car you choose, the lasting appeal of the hobby will includeenjoyment of the new friends you make at the many events and shows heldthese days. While the cars may be the common point of interest thatdraws individuals together, it's the people you meet and new friends youmake that will keep your interest.

These can be involved projects, but if you are looking to express yourown idea of an ideal Corvette, it can provide you with a car that meetsyour standard as well as provide the fun of building it. The good newsis that we have more choices today than ever before. The bad news isthese choices can make our projects more complicated. But with a littleresearch and thought in the beginning, we can make choices that willlead to just what we're looking for. Best of luck!

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