top of page

$5K Hot Rod Built The Way They Used To Build 'Em

Written by Kevin Lee on December 1, 2007, Street Rodder Magazine

Remember the old Stroker McGurk cartoons that Tom Medley used to draw back in the ’50s? Stroker’s numerous adventures were familiar to a lot of early rodders and his cool little roadster reflected the simple style of their own rods.

The hobby has moved in some more elaborate and expensive directions since then, but there are still guys out there building and driving the type of hot rod that Stroker would recognize.

Vance Alexander, New London, Iowa, told us that Medley’s drawings were an influence when he was putting together his own T roadster. Take a look at this low-buck, homebuilt hot rod and tell me you can’t see the inspiration. Not only does Vance’s Olds-powered T look like an old-time, real hot rod, it was built that way-over time, with traditional parts, and very cheap. He’s had the body since 1965, when it was nothing more than the remains of a neglected ’25, missing the doors and turtle deck.

Fourteen years ago, he picked up a quick-change rearend, which triggered the buildup. Equipped with that rearend, the body, ideas borrowed from old rods and circle-track racers, and a notebook full of sketches of practically every part in the car (15 sketches of hairpin radius rod designs alone), Vance was ready to get busy.

He designed and built most of the roadster himself, the way the early hot rodders did.

For as low-buck and basic as it is, the car is packed with a ton of hot rod modifications, with parts fabricated from some unusual raw material. A few examples:

  • homemade friction shocks built with driveshaft tube and conveyor belting;

  • front turn signals using dash lights from a John Deere combine;

  • a spoon throttle pedal made from a dump rake tooth;

  • brake and clutch pedal assembly built using a bicycle front fork;

  • rearview mirror bracket out of a pitchfork tine;

  • shock springs built from a John Deere disc blade;

  • stanchions for the ’32 taillights (a pair of original left-side lights) that were once the leg of an antique typewriter table.

That kind of do-it-yourself engineering harks back to the old days, and it kept Vance’s build budget low. Cash spent on the roadster was right around $5,500.


bottom of page