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Building Street Rods: All You Need to Know by Ken Wickham

Building Street Rods: All You Need to Know by Ken Wickham
Submitted by Admin on


Book Reviewed By Larry Wescott

From The Publisher

The popularity of street rod and custom building shows has created a new generation of builders hungry to customize their own ride! This new all-color and expanded guide is the most complete guide to building more car for less money.

This practical reference offers advice on everything from the basics of choosing a car, to the best plan for handling fiberglass and metal bodies. This expanded resource offers experienced builders hundreds of tips, including sections on maintaining a custom ride and preventing and remedying paint problems. More than 200 color photos demonstrate various building tips and reveal inspiring images of finished products.

-200+ new color photos offer collectors quick instruction

-Hundreds of tips for avoiding costly mistakes assist any level of hot rod builder.


After reading “Building Street Rods, all you need to know” by Ken Wickham it really excited me. I couldn’t put it down.  Wickham provides you with the know-how to plan and undertake your own custom building project and get the most car for your money. It was so enjoyable to read each chapter and pick up all the helpful hints in each article. I loved it all.

The photos in the book brought back memories of working after school and weekends in a body shop installing Frenched Headlights and welding a two piece hood on my 52 Plymouth 2 door to bull noise it using lead. I bet it weighed 20 lbs. more than when I started.The photos were of the highest quality. There are more than 200 that give you visual building tips.

I was hooked on sign painting and mild pinstriping in 1957 and looked forward to the monthly issues of Hot Rod Magazine for new ideas and styles.  That was B.H.R. (Before Hot Rods) when the name on the cover was Honk!

It was July 1955 when I first saw a 1952 Mercury with California plates parked on the dock in Bar Harbor, Maine.  It had what looked like miles of lines on it and if flipped me out.  There was a lady there with a "Brownie" Camera and I asked her to take 5 photos for me.  I later realized it was a job done by the late, great Von Dutch.  Ihad them for many years til I lost my shop to a fire.

Pictures and Excerpts from the book



The Plan: Classic cars appeal to the masses, but many people want a classic look with a more reliable or smoother ride. A semi-modified hot rod like this 1953 Buick may be the answer.


Visualize: Sometimes it is easier to visualize the final product with a professional sketch. This same body can be manipulated over and over with different color combinations until you have found the one you want. Grilles, wheels, interiors and trim can all easily be changed. (Zombie)


Fiberglass: Fiberglass doesn’t cure with time, it cures with heat and will cure to the highest temperature it is exposed to. When your fiberglass body arrives, be sure to set all the pieces out in the sun. (Street Rods By Michael)


Big Daddy: The late Ed “ Big Daddy” Roth remains a huge influence on the hot rod community. You will see tributes to Ed at almost any show you go to. Rat Fink was one of his most famous characters.

Metal   Metal: When you search for a donor body, it’s like shopping for ingredients after you have a recipe in hand. Your plan, with budget and drawings in hand, should be complete before the search begins. What parts will you really need? Are the front-end sheet metal parts easy to locate? Will you need a set of nice stainless trim?

The Firewall: Note the flashing lines near the firewall and above the windshield. This manufacturer finishes these for customers, but not all companies do. (Gibbon Fiberglass Reproductions)

Chassis   The Chassis: Many builders find the chassis-building process one of the most enjoyable parts of a custom build. With the body off the car, the mechanics are easy to see and enjoy. ( Gibbon Fiberglass Reproductions)