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Hagerty Employee

Carini: To hot rod or not?

I’ve loved hot rods for just about as long as I can remember.


When I was a kid, Dad’s cousin Tom had space at the family’s restoration shop, and using whatever was at hand, he would build some down and dirty hot rods. My friend Tommy and I thought they were so cool. We’d spend hours and hours hanging out in the shop just watching these basic machines take shape.


For most of my adult life, I’ve been involved with cars that are more or less stock. That’s particularly true when it comes to Ferraris, where every nut and bolt is documented and originality is so important. You learn quickly there are certain cars that are OK to customize and others that you absolutely cannot touch ... 


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Advanced Driver

As a Harley Davidson owner for years, I find that the cost of modifications on a stock Bike is the inverse of what someone get when they sell.


To modify or not comes down to a number of things. One what the car is. No you do not modify a 250 GTO.  But if it is a car that they made a great number of like a Model T then is is not such a great sin. 


Also what modifications you make often  an result in added or lost value. Put a 350 Chevy in a 65 GTO lost value. Add a VSE Herb Adams suspension to a Fiero with the DGP IMSA body you may triple the cars value. 


Hotrods are the one area where most are worth more than they are stock. Many a hot rod is not based on a high value car. Often most are basket cases supplemented with custom or repo parts. It becomes a canvass that you create upon. If documented right they can result in a great deal of increased value. 


On the other hand many a Pro Street car is not always so lucky. Many are not built well. If documented they can result in a increase in value but many are not and sell for way less than what was invested. 


Also supply and demand play a roll. Many people want Hot Rods but Pro Street has a smaller group of enthusiast as most are not easy to drive everywhere. 


The real key is to build what you want. With my car I could put it all back but as time has passed the parts I used to create my car are worth more than some similar cars. I saw the rare T top gaskets sell for $1500. 


Like buying a car buy what you enjoy. What you modify use good judgment and taste then make sure it is what you like. That way no matter what car of mods you may have done you have a car you like. 

Intermediate Driver

Wayne don't you proofread your stuff? You talk of a 32 Roadster then show a 32 Cabriolet!!!!

Hagerty Employee

I assure you the flub was mine. The visual's been fixed, thanks!

Okay, maybe your mini isn't worth what it could potentially have been.  Big freaking deal.  You had fun with it, right?  Its just a car.  Drive it until the wheels fall off, and enjoy it!

Intermediate Driver

Wayne, the DK Engineering TR250/500C recreation you are selling is a violation of these rules.  A violation I would happily purchase if I could.  Customization is always in the eye of the holder.  It is always the risk of the original cars value.  Some like 32 Fords or 49 Mercs become so ubiquitous that they seem to transcend the rule and are valued above an original.  People don’t generally hot rod Ferraris because of their normal intrinsic value.  But Steve Moal did, and I would give my eye teeth for the Zausner Torpedo.  Hot rodding has always been about adding performance and personalizing cars.  It is a personal thing and I would say it is never about the final value.

Intermediate Driver

When Notre-Dame is rebuilt, it will not be the same edifice as was originally completed in the 13th century, despite the fact that only one was built.  They're restore it to be what the church and the funders need it to be.  And then they'll use it.  

They made about 10 of these Fords (and this is a relatively "rare" car) for every year that has passed since the cathedral was built.  I'd say do with it what you need to do, then use it.  The only disgrace would be to build a static show queen.  


I did all there was to do with my '30 Model A engine in '51, I kept the car absolute stock otherwise, cops clocked me at 92 mph, nobody ever beat me from a stoplight drag.  The key was the stock look, then the speed, total shock to plenty of people.  Tudor body dragged lots of air, this limited top speed but who cares.

Pit Crew

I’ve been driving past Wayne’s shop since he opened F40 and appreciated his devotion to original design. I resisted the temptation to resto-mod my ‘70 Cuda at the peak of the craze and now I’m glad I did. People who see it for the first time marvel at the originality - down to the code stampings, paint daubs and factory imperfections. It helped that I’d been around the car since new (I’m the “original passenger”) and took 200 photos before and during the restoration. 


I shared my car with a bunch of kids when Hagerty sponsored a Driving Expreience at the Consumer Reports test track to teach kids how to drive a stick shift. The event was chronicled in the Chasing Classic Cars “Need for Speed(ster)” episode. It was great to let the kids stumble though learning to work the clutch and watch their pride at mastering it. It was also the first time that I drove car in the rain in 40 years!  The best part was being able to spend time chatting with Roger about his days of racing on the Nurburgring.

Pit Crew

I’ve got a 71 Convertible Super Beetle. Not an especially rare car. When we had it refinished, we left off the top to be done the following winter. Without the top, it’s 40-50 lbs lighter and we can see out of it better. It’s also got a bit of a sportster vibe going. We ended up not putting it on at all. I’ve gotten a bunch of comments about how the car is reduced in value and how I can’t drive it in the winter. Sorry world, I’m having fun with it. I haven’t made an irreversible change to it and I AM NOT going to drive it in an Ohio winter under any circumstances. The same people that criticize me for leaving the top off seem to have no problem at all with a Bug that’s been chopped, dropped and have Subaru engines installed. Knowing what I know now, the only thing I would have done differently would have been to leave off the running boards and complete the sportster look. Life is short. Spending time in my Super with my wife beside me makes life a bit nicer. 


not sure what this all is but I'm in the ThnxGivin cheer.


The 4 color & 1 B&W and the verbiage (don't seem to go w/it) have me ponder. I like what's been done w/the B&W if the other 4 are the conversion. I am one more on the "rest0" than the mod kinda path. Mods are for performance (MPGs and pep) and my eye ('50s/60s Italian and some Brit; mid/late '30s - late 40s usa 'classics'). This could fit in there.


I like the steer wheel, flat-head, wire wheels, etc still in their rightful place. I would have left it a vert w/rumble seat and made suicide dor. A bench seat is also my fav so congrats on the few changes U made...

Intermediate Driver

I think you made the right call not to hot rod that '32 roadster.  Don't get me wrong, I love rods, especially deuce roadsters.  But unrestored examples are becoming awfully scarce and it's so easy to build a rod from aftermarket components, that it  just seems wrong to cut up an original car.


Plus there's the philosophy that we don't really own a car, we're just acting as their current caretaker.  Perhaps future generations will wonder how Ford put together '32 roadsters.  Do we have the right to modify one of the last remaining examples and cause that record to be lost?

Intermediate Driver

The Louis Special. That is a thing of beauty in gleaming black. Thank you for sharing it. I have previously seen the car from Steve Moal. Also very nice and thank you for commissioning it from a master.

Pit Crew

Back in the 1980s, when they were throw-aways, I destroyed several very valuable cars by modifying them. I had two 1969 Dodge Super Bees, one was an original low mile survivor, stock right down to the hubcaps and functional hood scoops, several Road Runners, including a 440 - 4 speed that was highly optioned, with bucket seats, console, 8 track player and more. Red with blacked out hood panel. a 1970 Barracuda, a 1970 Challenger, and many others came and went. Looking back, I wish I had been able to keep them all, but I sure had fun with them!

Intermediate Driver

The most common reason for hot rodding is laziness. A person doesn’t want to invest the effort into learning how to fix an older car or search for parts. Example, convert 6 volt to 12 volt. All 6 volt cars started fine when they were new. They just need large enough cables and a good starter and some research into figuring out how generators and separate regulators work. 

Pit Crew



I've long had the fantasy of authentically restoring a 1932 Ford 3-window coupe just to assure that at least one was left intact. While I appreciate hot rods and rat rods, that model is so iconic I worry none will be left unmolested.

New Driver

I appreciate your dilemma. Growing up in Los Angeles in the ‘50’s and ‘60’s it was imprinted on my psyche that any car can be improved. The deuce V8 had issues and very few original engines are left. And there is always the brake issue. Hot rods these days are best built up out of discarded stuff: 60 years ago deuce roadsters were already hard to find, moving rodders to the more numerous Model A’s. 

Then again, a careful, reversible hot rod might be fun too. Fenders off, a dropped front axle, and open exhaust is enough, easy, and very cool. 

Tough call!

Pit Crew

Too bad there were no photos with this article. That made it less interesting.

Pit Crew

It is often said that "it's only original once" and the right patina can make a car even more interesting. You're right Wayne, you can always change your mind later, but going back to the current stage would be very difficult to recreate. The car itself will tell you what to do. I think you made the right choice.