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    I have to ask, with the incredible talent here, why don’t you guys just build from scratch?

    I’m very slowly restoring a 50 and 56 Cadillac, and sometimes the time I spend cutting out rust and making panels from scratch I think to myself, “why not start from scratch? All new metal.”


    Granted, I’m not saying reinvent the wheel or engine.  I really like the look of the long and low customs here like the 39-41 cadillacs being reimagined here.  Im wondering if I could start with a long wheelbase truck frame like an f150 or Silverado 1500 long bed and use the frame/drivetrain and build up from there.  The goal being an art deco look.


    Brian Arcella

    Well just speaking from my experience I have a combination of doing that using a modern chassis/drivetrain while using my 48 Plymouth body. Not saying this is for everyone and truthfully if my original frame didn’t have rot in all the wrong places I may have stuck with the original frame. It’s a matter of individual choice actually some guys are total purist when it comes to building a custom not deviating one bit from exactly what would have been done back in the day so to speak so their cars are individual time capsules of how it was done but build today. Some are into reviving old customs that have fallen by the wayside bringing them back to their former glory, some build clone or tribute cars of famous customs that no longer exist or that are so flippin cool that they inspire the builder to build his own exactly as a custom of yesterday was built. If you’re thinking along the lines of total one off fabrication building an entire body from front to back that is a total one off I owuld venture to say that there are a very few who have both the skillset and the financial wherewithal to do so. Even cases of some extremely talented individuals who may be able to pull it off they’re limited to what equipment they have available. I guess I can see your point where it’s probably everyone into the custom car hobbies dream is to have a one off totally unique custom. I’ll be happy making my jalopy just a wee bit different that everyone else’s but how unique waits to be seen



      Im wondering if I could start with a long wheelbase truck frame like an f150 or Silverado 1500 long bed and use the frame/drivetrain and build up from there.

    But then you would be building a one off coach-built car (on a truck chassis.) ‘Customs’ in the sense here is taking a factory car and modifying it. Two different things.

    The trouble with building customs today from old cars is no one under 80 knows what the original cars looked like in the first place, so work is lost on 99.9% of the population.



    My friends either don’t believe I’d do it or think I’m crazy.  My metal shaping tools are just harbor freight stuff.  English wheel, shrinker/stretcher, hammer/dolly and a Woodward Fab hand crank bead roller.  I also have a hobart 140 welder.  I still think I can do it.



    It’s certainly something I have been considering more and more of late.

    I’d love to build a 30s coach built style car. The thing is though, there is a hell of a lot of planning and engineering that goes into it. It’s alot easier to cut rust out here and there and chop a roof than it is to built a complete body from scratch. Door hinges and all that need to be well thought out before the fabrication starts. If I were to do it I’d build a chassis from scratch like a hot rod and use I beam suspension etc. If you’re going to put years into designing and building a car why compromise with an ugly chassis? (Only my opinion of course). Plus here in AUS you’d have to register it as a re bodied whatever… If you build it the chassis from scratch you could possibly register it as a street rod.



    Well, I don’t want to re-engineer steering and suspension.    A truck is pretty basic with rear leaf suspension and front coils.  A regular GM carbureted v8 like a Chevy 350 would be fine to me.


    The budget will be pretty small.  But I am keenly aware that it’s “easy” to do build a functioning one off car, but the real challenge is making it flow and beautiful.


    Quentin Hall

    It’s all economics. Either money is valuable and your time is free. Or you have no time and are prepared to pay someone else.

    Some of the professional builders are putting 10 000 man hours into projects. Do the maths.

    I have been into Cadillacs since I was 19. I’ve owned a dozen or more. But I’m just a ordinary guy on a ordinary budget, so I do it myself. I’m also a metal fabricator so am lucky to have equipment. Is it sustainable to pour you heart and soul into old cars? Ask my ex wife.

    Is there anything else I’d rather be doing? Nup. . . .



    Quentin, your caddy is one of my biggest influences.


    I have more time than money.  If I came across a 30’s/40’s caddy I don’t think id have the balls to cut it up.  It takes great vision but also skill to execute it cleanly.


    I suppose starting from scratch is because Id like to start with clean new metal, and, I don’t have the confidence in my skill set to cleanly customize something already made.  At least if it’s your own design you don’t have to follow any rules or motif.


    Reminds me of guys making a 32 roadster from scratch.  Yes, there is some ridiculously good talent out there who can execute that idea cleanly, but a lot fall short.  Even if it’s slightly, it’s more painful of a flaw because everyone can see it lacking whatever detail.  That’s the cool thing about starting from scratch.  Total freedom.  Of course, you have to maintain flow and symmetry regardless of design.



    Total freedom.


    I’ve seen some total freedom cars. Which proves that some people actually need lines drawn for them to colour in, because left t o themselves ugliness ensues!

    That’s not to say everyone is a design klutz, but the percentage of those with the eye and design sense to come up with winners is way less than the fails.

    Maybe you are one of the few? In any case, it’s almost a free world, so if you’re motivated, why not have a go?


    But post pics!





    I agree with Tony.

    I don’t mean to sound rude or arrogant but if you don’t have the confidence to improve upon an existing car, then there is a chance you might not have the ability to create one from scratch. One that looks right anyway. Please don’t take this the wrong way, the last thing I want is to discourage someone from doing what they want. But to achieve a result that was worth doing to start with you need to pour a ridiculous amount of effort into. You don’t want the thing looking like a half assed kit car.


    You mention people re creating 32s and not quite getting it right. I’ll tell you now, it’s a lot easier to copy a car that already exists than try and build one from scratch – and remember, once you have finished one side you must make the other exactly the same.

    I started to build a 1930 Ford roadster body from scratch and we made bucks, templates and patterns and it was still a massive undertaking with many panels ending up in the scrap bin – and that’s with having a buck to work to.


    If you’re just shaping random bits of steel up it’s hard to know if it’s right before you turn the flanges and put the beads in, by then it’s too late to go back and re shape.

    And then once you have all the outer panels shaped up, you then have to build the bracing and the rest of it. I’d say that would be the hardest part of building a car from scratch.


    All this said, anything is possible. If you have the determination and patience you can achieve anything.



    After re reading what I had posted earlier I realise it came across alot more negative than intended. I’m sorry for that.

    I hope you decide to give it a go as I’m keen to see someone else’s way of thinking, and how they go about tackling it.


    Would you do a design on paper and try to scale it up to the chassis you’d be using?



    Yes I’ve sketched on paper ideas.  Very much Packard and Cadillac influences.


    See I think it’s much harder to copy a car than build from scratch.  On a copy, every square foot is an opportunity to get it wrong, and every eye that knows the original will pour over it, looking for what’s wrong.  The one off of someone’s own design only has to follow one rule, and that’s symmetry.



    Heres an idea sketched out.  I know, looks like a kid drew it.  That’s ok. It was free hand.  Just the beginning of the main idea.  Really it’s nothing too new.

    You must be logged in to view attached files.


    I dig it.

    Like I said, I really hope you decide to take it on. It’s something I’d like to do after my 36 and would love to see how you go about it.



    I been from time to time thinking about this aswell and given up for several reasons but its a dream to create something that nobody has that can be appriciated by many , it takes everything and then some to create a oneoff , technique , skills , eye , machines …… see this coachbuilder where some of the tech is shown creating a body from scrach , https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Jkzp0TpsUM

    youtube has alot of great stuff showing techniques but to be good at it you need tons of practice , be precise , have a angels patience , the list is endless to create a custom frame and body that flows with the era stuff that has to look like it came with the car from the factory . Here are a Niklas Lindgren Lerum Sweden that has built two “oneoffs” , the -32 V16 Cadillac he built in the eigties and the -31 V12 Auburn he just reasently finished , made in a home garage shop with a english wheel and a god given will and patience . Both cars has original engines that Niklas restored from ground up and then built custom frames and bodys around them ….. mindboggeling stuff !




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