Help DIY Car

I dont know a heck of alot about how to put together a car, but I am mechanically inclined and am familiar with the principals of their internal operation. I would like to build a car from scratch. I have been looking online for help in achieving this, but I have no idea where to start, and i was hoping for some assistance in the matter. I would like to build a carburetor era car because I don’t like computers all to much. Anyway, any help I can get with this would be greatly appreciated.

The last vehicles that I helped my son restore were a 1974 Nova and a 1979 Malibu. They were fairly cheap and parts were plentiful. You will have a variety of engine choices and they are not bad looking cars. It all boils down to what you like and what you are willing to spend.

One thing to consider is a kit car. They come with all (or at least most of the parts). But it’s very expensive.

Getting an older car and fixing it new can be even more expensive - depending on the level of how bad it is. Rust is the major issue.

It all boils down to what you like and what you are willing to spend.

That says it all. I plan on buying at least one 60’s Camaro when I retire. And spend the next few years restoring it. It’ll help keep me off the streets. Would love to do it now…but won’t have the money until all my kids are out of college.

I was hoping to do a '66 Pontiac GTO or '72 Gran Torino and buy the parts/pieces I need slowly over the next few years. The problem is I have no idea where to start. What do I need to buy? What do I buy first? Once I have everything, how do I put it together?

Once I have everything, how do I put it together?

If you’re asking that question…then this project may be over you head.

@John359178, The GTO is a nice choice, the Gran Torino not so much. There are companies making many reproduction parts for the GTO since it is a waaaay more popular car to restore. You said “build a car from scratch” not restore a car. Building from scratch means ordering steel, aluminum, fiberglass and more and starting from a clean sheet of paper. I’ll assume you meant restore since building a car from scratch is a very daunting task for even the most experienced automotive engineer, fabricator, designer; and you need to be all 3.

Restoring a car means buying a clapped-out barn queen (the project car) and completely disassembling it, stripping, cleaning and restoring every part and reassembling the car. For a restoration, as has been posted previously here, rust is a huge factor but so is completeness. If you want a “numbers matching” GTO, it is very important to buy a project car with the correct engine transmission and frame. This is VERY expensive since those that have them know what they are worth. These cars are painstakingly restored to they way they came from the factory, anything less reduces the value.

If you want a car that looks like a 66 GTO (great choice, one of MY personal favorite cars) you can buy a LeMans and add reproduction GTO trim, hood, interior and engine parts to make what is known as a “clone”. I’d add a few things that make it safer and nicer to drive like modern power disk brakes, sway bars at both ends, and maybe fuel injection and electronic ignition since originality is not an issue.

If you like Camaros, Firebirds,or Mustangs you can buy complete brand new reproduction bodies stamped from metal for $12 - $15,000 or so. Almost everything is available for these VERY popular cars. You’ll need to buy EVERY little part to finish them off. Like building a full size model car that RUNS when you are done.

Whatever path you choose, Good luck!

Surely you mean restore/rebuild a classic car and not build one from the ground up. That would be impossible. OK, not impossible, but to find every last piece of a Gran Torino would be akin to finding a needle in a haystack. And the various processes required to assemble, finish, and safely drive a car are way beyond the capabilities of any one man. That’s my opinion anyway. Look around and see if you can find a video of an assembly line and see if you think you can do that.

So assuming you’re going to be working on a starter project of a car, pick something that parts are readily available for and that has some following, so you’ll have resources and opinions to help guide you. Organizations and parts for your Gran Torino will probably be much easier to find than the same for Renault.

Finally, remember that cost and time can’t really be factors in a project like this. It costs what it costs and takes as long as it needs. If/when the time comes to sell your finished product, you can expect to recoup about half of the cost of materials and none of the labor costs/time.

Over many years I have helped a few people with project cars, most were actually trucks. And as @asemaster said if you keep up with the time and money spent you might be very disappointed at the end. Friends have let their teenage sons buy and restore old Mustangs, Broncos, Jeeps and pickups with the idea that the garage was a much better place to spend spare time than many alternatives. In retrospect it seems they were correct. A few of the projects resulted in well restored vehicles. A LeMans might be much more common and affordable than a GTO but just as challenging to restore.

I’ve come to the conclusion that its cheaper to buy one already done than to do it myself but if you really need to, there are books in the library or Barnes & Noble on car restoration. I have a Mustang book that goes from start to finish on restoring one. There are also welding manuals, body work manuals, upholstery books, engine repair books and so on that will provide more information on the various skills needed. Also go to some old car or hot rod shows for tips and vendors. A person doing a full restoration often strips and removes the body and sends it out for sand blasting, dipping, and priming. Metal work can be included. Then you can work on the frame and drive train, mount the body back on, paint it, reupholster, etc. Hope you have at least a double garage with a lift, friends, and tools.

In all seriousness, you really need to drop this idea. What you’re asking is how to perform a task that would be extremely time consuming and godawful expensive even for someone who is very mechanically inclined.

You will find out that one piece at a time, even with reproduction parts, is going to require multiple briefcases full of cash and at the end (and if ever finished) you would have countless times more invested in the car than it would ever be worth.

Your best bet is to find an older car that is already together and running while having little or no rust. Any minor flaws could be corrected as you go and GTOs are very desireable; a.k.a. costly.

I like Mike’s suggestion; a kit car.
Start the process with regular trips to the local bookstore. Read, read, read, and read some more. Meanwhile, think about what you’ll need in terms of budget and resources.

If this were an unrealistic goal, the hot rod industry would never have been born. Hot rods were originally vehicles cobbled together from barnyard parts, often stripped of all unnecessary weight to gain acceleration. But OK4450 makes a good point; you need to think of this as an investment in a dream, and not a financial investment.

I too have always wanted to build a car from scratch, but I never had the time, money, and facilities to do so. But if you live in a more moderate climate than I do, you may just be able to do a yard build. Countless people have.

Good luck.

What is your budget? That determines LOTS of what you can/can’t do.

If you mean to restore a vehicle try to find the show Wheeler Dealers and you will see the things that can derail a project. If you mean to make your own from ground up forget it, Also watch some of the car auctions ( Mecum will be on Velocity this coming Jan. and Barrett-Jackson).

@VOLVO V70: seems like you are a velocity junkie like me. Other than some live sports, I can not find anything else amusing on TV. My wife has told everybody that our family room has turned into a garage/auction house.

If the OP means building something like a Lotus7 it can be done from scratch, or at least with mechanical parts from another car, one high school kid made one for his senior project using parts from an 80’s bmw 3 series. Locost is what it’s called.

If you have the welding skills or know someone who can help you then making a frame and body would be the first priority, then get a donor car for the suspension and drivetrain (almost any 4cyl will work)

It can be done but I would do lots of research before even thinking about investing the time and money.

Well how about a mid fifties F-100 with a small block Ford for motivation? if you can find one with a straight body and light rust,it would be a fairly straight forward project(there are a lot of suspension upgrades avai;ible)Kevin

I think that’s a great idea for a project. But if you plan to drive it on the road, be sure to phone up your local DMV to make sure it will be possible to register it. You state may require it pass an assortment of tests both for safety and emissions and have certain parts installed on it.

Some states are far easier than others to register a vehicle like this. For Washington state you mostly need to have an inspection done at a state patrol office to make sure that all the numbers are correct and you are the owner of the parts (the owner needs all paperwork for the parts and vehicle purchases). Other states have different rules. Dynacorn Classic Bodies has links to state registration and titling info. Emissions and safety checks depend on which state and county the vehicle will be registered in. The state may assign a VIN for the vehicle.

I was looking through a Yogis catalog out of Iowa the other day and was surprised at all they had. Frames in the $8-10K range, bodies in the same range, etc. All in the 30’s and 40’s for street rods. It wouldn’t take long to get to $50K by the time you add engines, wiring, windows, upholstery, etc. It would be fun but not for the faint of heart.

You can now buy complete classic Mustang bodies, all new. And I’m sure they know how to handle any title issues.

Of course, this would be part of a $50k-$100k vehicle. We haven’t heard anything back from the OP about his budget…or anything else, for that matter.