Jim Smart
April 16, 2007
Photos By: The Mustang & Fords Archives

Do What You've Never Done Before
Car building is a learned craft. Learn by doing it yourself. If you screw up, you can always take another shot at it. Learn through failure and success as well. Be prepared to do things again and again until you get them right. If it isn't working for you, be willing to hand it over to someone who knows how. In any case, practice makes perfect.

Building a street rod can be a bolt-on experience, and it can also be a fabrication trip where you make parts for your hot rod no one else has. That's the beauty and intrigue of car building-a personal statement that tells people something about you.

We spoke with Michael Young of Street Rods by Michael in Shelbyville, Tennessee. When we asked him about the trend toward street-rodding midcentury Fords, he said, "I don't see midcentury Fords as street rods but rather hot rods. Street rods are traditionally pre-'48 cars." He also pointed out that Good Guys events have moved the cut-off date to 1972 in the interest of including more contemporary rides in its shows.

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When we asked Young what most of his clients were bringing him, he told us more traditional, old-fashioned hot rods-prewar Ford coupes and roadsters-with build budgets pushing $100,000. This is a figure most midcentury Ford traditionalists would go into convulsions over. Young adds that concours-restored original cars aren't bringing the same kind of money modifieds are at auction, which is exactly the opposite of what used to be true. Make no mistake-rare, hot, factory-original Shelbys and Bosses still bring handsome figures at auction. But Young tells us people want more creature comforts in their classic cars, which is what makes restomod and street rodding so popular.

Building a classic Ford or Mercury street rod is little more than building a restomod on steroids. Street rodding asks a lot of your imagination to conceive something in a way no one else has. Planning a street-rod project should actually take more time than building the car. Think of it the way you would choosing a mate because, like a mate, you will have to live with your decision for a long time.

Next month, we'll get into the mechanical end of street-rod building-engine, driveline, suspension, brakes, and more. So what are you waiting for? Clear out a spot in the garage and get started.