Classic Shapes, No Rust. Reproduction Body Shells Deliver.
By Mike Mello
Has anyone ever asked you: “Hey, why doesn’t Chevy just build a bunch of those ’57 Chevys again?…They’d sell ’em all!” Sometimes, friends will ask me why they can’t just go order one of these classics as a brand new vehicle and the question seems to come from a dissatisfaction with contemporary car design. Do enough people outside the automotive hobby actually know that there are companies manufacturing popular reproduction bodies that a custom shop could turn into a complete car for you? While you don’t see TV commercials or billboards for these kinds of firms, they’re out there! You just won’t find them on your local strip of new car dealerships.
The Consumer Reports car blog has been covering the 2007 SEMA show in Las Vegas, and that is exactly where I would direct anyone looking for a custom-built reproduction car. It might take a while to select the right outfit to build your dream car, but let it be known that companies like Dynacorn Classic Bodies actually offer new body shells of some of the more famous models ever built. People who are into the old car hobby know all about the tons of repro parts available for many of the popular 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s cars, but what about the non-automotive enthusiast who might also be interested in something like a ’54 Chevy pickup as a weekend fun car? (The images here are from local car shows and may or may not feature products from companies mentioned in this post.)
A person looking for a toy such as this is might already own a daily-driven luxury sedan that just doesn’t deliver the kind of Saturday-night-special-feel that a ’67 Mustang would offer. Finding an original, surviving example of such a pony car is hard enough, nevermind the astounding price. Checking over somebody else’s rusty projectmobile is not what some shoppers are ready to tackle, and the quality of restorations performed old cars is all over the map. So, while it is in no way less expensive than finding a great old car in that “weekend driver” condition, a person looking for their ultimate weekend muscle machine or classic cruiser might do well to start with a reproduction body shell.
Finding a shop to do the work is another story, but one that a person with a clear vision of their desired ride should be able to handle. Pick up an issue of Hot Rod magazine, look over the Project Garage pages within the Roddin’ at Random section and take note of the featured custom car builders.
Next, think about how much you’re willing to invest in the project. Depending on the quality of work, who knows, perhaps your custom project could turn out to be a better long-term investment than a comparably-priced contemporary car. On the other hand, you might end up finding a car that already exists and maybe you only want to change the paint. Cars that are already done are practically always less expensive than building one from the ground up.
Overall, the availability of brand new body shells takes the rust problem out of the equation. Talk to custom shops about how many of the actual parts are available as brand-new reproduction pieces and then get a list together of how many New Old Stock pieces would have to be located. Sound like a journey you’re up for? If you’ve wondered about what kind of new, reproduction body parts are out there, in addition to Dynacorn, listed above, checkout Brookville Roadster, for early Ford roadster bodies.
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