Project Planning 

The most important thing you need to do is to put a plan together to manage your project.  When I built my 1954 Buick Special I used an Excel Spreadsheet but you can use any project planning tool but it’s most important that you document your plan.  Even with my spreadsheet I managed to get side tracked with changes that caused my project costs to increase.

Depending on your mechanical skills, available time and funds, a hot rod project can be done in as little as 6-12 months or up to 3-4-5 years or longer.  If you’re really into cars you’ve probably seen some of the shows on the TV e.g., Over Haulin, Unique Whips, West Coast Customs or American Hot Rod where they build a car in as little as 7 days up to 2 or 3 weeks.  If you have a team of 15 or 20 people and a lot of cash to burn anything is possible.  For the average Joe or Jane what you see on TV is not realistic because the cost would be too much.

​I broke my project down to 5 phases starting from the bottom going up and out.

  1. Phase One was the Frame, Suspension, wheels and tires and other components that are connect to the frame under the hood.
  2. Phase Two would be Steering Brakes, AC/Heating. 
  3. Phase Three was the Drive Train e.g. motor, transmission, drive shaft and rear end.
  4. Phase Four would be body work and Paint.  You can have the best painter and use the best paint and if the body work is poor you can't hide that with paint. A good body man/woman is critical for a awesome paint job.  Candies and Pearls are great looking but they are expensive and difficult to spot should you get an unfortunate ding or nick.  There are some very good two or three stage OEM colors and combinations that can look like custom paint jobs.  Just look at some of the colors on late model cars from american car companies as well as the European and Asian car companies.  All the new car manufacturers have some stunning paint colors that make a classic car really pop.
  5. Phase Five was the Interior and Upholstery; you need to have all your wiring, sound system and any interior fabrication e.g. dash modifications and consoles completed before you have the upholstery done. and of course your paint and body word should be complete.

This plan and the sequence of events worked for me but I have talked to others where they start with the body first.  Leaving the body and paint to the 3rd or 4th phase can be risky if you’re not really sure about the condition of the body.  If the body is full of bondo or plastic fillers and or has a lot of rust areas it could cost you a significant amount just to get the body in good shape to accept your new paint job. 

Now if you would like to see an example of the template I used for my Buick and Plymouth projects go to the Projects -> Project Plan Template section.