So you have fabrication skills, a decent set of tools, welding ability, and some spare time you can set aside every week, but you're down on dinero? Well gang, there's no reason you can't build a righteous hot rod that you'd be proud of for a small outlay of cash. If you're willing and able to invest a bunch of sweat equity into the project, you can do just that!
A project such as this is an exercise in discipline, money management, manual dexterity, and, just as importantly, creativity. Knowing what will give you the maximum effect for your cash-the most bang for the buck, if you will-will set you light years ahead of some of the...how do we say this...larger budget, less tasteful rides we've all seen.
Right from the get-go, figure out what few "money" parts you "just gotta have." But keep in mind, BIG IMPACT/LITTLE MONETARY OUTLAY. "Form follows function" was never more true than when creating a low-funds hot rod. Skulls, Maltese crosses, and brass knuckles have nothing to do with making your machine motate down the road, so don't waste your money when it comes to this budget build. To borrow another well-used phrase, less is more! OK, enough preaching already.
Take a clapped-out '28-29 Model A sedan, cut out the pasture rash (rust and general crud), and cut off the hammered-through-time top, taking special measures to turn the sedan into a two-door tub. Build a completely hidden square-tube chassis (channeled body, full hood). Big 'n' little old-timey tires and wires and a cleaned-up and sanitized donor drivetrain in a super-lightweight package wrapped in an open-air, wind-in-your-hair, two-seat-tub hot rod!
The "Money Parts"
And the"Little to No Money Parts"The list is very subjective, but in general, the place you can best spend your money for the most hot rod vibe would be a nice front axle, wheels 'n' tires, and raw building material (cost of steel makes this a definite "money" item). The low-buck parts list is extensive. I figure the entire drivetrain (engine, trans, and rearend) could be had fairly cheap if you find that "just right" donor car. A Seventies midsize GM offering, Ford Pinto, large or small pickups, even some early vintage Asian rear-drive econo-boxes could be your source...look, measure, take notes, study. Keep in mind rear axle widths, the width of the body you'll use, wheel offsets, etc. More cheap or free stuff needed for any hot rod are seats, steering wheel, shifter, basic wiring harness, headlights, glass (for the minimal windshield), radiator, belts, hoses, etc. In fact, in and of itself, the "little to no money" parts list becomes one more "money" item!
As stated early on, fabrication skills and tools are an absolute necessity if you are going to attempt this project. This is presented simply as a condensed builder's guide. Instructions are straight from your full-scale model box (the garage)! Of course, it's a hot rod you're building-make it your own. The choices are many, to say the least. Keep it clean, keep it simple, keep it safe.