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Above is a PhotoShop rendering of an Art Deco styled roadster I've been building for a couple years.
The premise of the thread was that there was a mid east sultan who wanted a modern art deco coupe for his wife.
That said, I fell in love with the style and it rekindled my long dormant desire to build a car from the ground up.
During the original thread I was very excited about the overall 'look' of the car but definitely wanted something that I could be comfortable in.
About this time I remembered a friend in St Paul who had a stalled LoCost project (Lotus 7 clone) that was available. THE ART DECO ROADSTER PROJECTAfter the disappointment with the LoCost project, I thought a bit about what I really wanted. The plan is to strip the body (selling the parts, cab, interior, front clip, etc), keeping the frame, drivetrain, and all the electronics. Lots of folks dinged me on this decision and, as it turned out, for the most part, they were right. After I got the Dakota home, I pulled the sheet metal off and then got the driveline components out.
About this time, I ran across a Jag rear end for next to nothing and without thinking it through, decided to go with that for the rear.
Bennett Chapman is one of my best friends and he offered to let me build the frame in his shop.
I planned for 5' cabin length (5x4") and with the Jag rear may be able to sneak a few cubic feet behind the seats. The Dakota had a lot of backspace but a Durango (same bolt pattern) has probably 2" less which increases track 4". The tires are too wide but the rears may be OK, the fronts will definitely be replaced with narrower tires.
While I have the car up at Dutch's meet this summer, I'm going to have his mechanic buddy change out the gears. I need to order some steering ujoints, double D rod, and support bearings so I can mock up the steering. The Knoxville NSRA nats are the week after the Bugly meet and I'm planning on going up the Friday and get some 'stuff'. It was actually a little warm so I brought the cab in the shop with the forklift and finished pulling the seats so I could get to everything. For simplicity, I'll be using the Dakota steering column and guages primarily because they will plug into the basic harness and no one makes harnesses for the 318 electronics. It has modular guages that I can simply make new faces for and put behind cut out aluminum face. By tomorrow, I'll have everything I could possibly want out of the cab and will be able to list the Dakota parts for sale. I called a friend of Dutchs to ask if he would change out the Jag gears when I have the car at Dutchs for his meet. I'm considering going back to the Dakota rear end and switching it over to coilovers and a 4 link.
Anyway some of the comments about weight got me to thinking and I took my high tech rod scales (two bathroom scales with a board between them, add the numbers.
Obviously a lot of stuff still to be hung on the chassis, up front we have the radiator, fan, pwr steering pump, throttle body, air cleaner, steering wheel, etc. There is a flange on the front of this panel and the panel in front of this one will fit under the flange and be rosette welded together. I rosette welded the front and back pair of panels together and laid them on the cross braces and the subframe (the one Rod Doc suggested) I'll probably screw the two panels together for mockup and weld later so I can remove them easily as Richard suggested). Obviously the stiffners are just sitting there and will be trimmed to clear the driveshaft tunnel . Before we did I wanted to hang the fender profiles we cut out at Bugly and take some long distance shots.
The hood line is lower than the top of the fenders and noses over to the grill which is even with the front of the fenders. Tomorrow I hope to have time to cut out some sections for one of the fenders so I can have something to take to SunNFun. With the help of Mark and Tuck at Bugly we finished the floor pans on the passenger side but don't have any photos.
I've still got to do a couple different profiles for the front where the fenders taper down and also at the rear. I've borrowed a deep throat marchant type shrinker and will be using that to make the inner cockpit structure, door frames, etc for the roadster. As I roughed out the other half of the fender, I used the double tape approach that Casey Hill showed me last year. 1- Take masking tape (or any tape really) and CAREFULLY lay it down with one edge on the exact place you want the other panel to line up, that is, the cut line. 3- CAREFULLY lay a new piece of tape over the top of the first piece lining up the edge perfectly. 4- After you make sure the tape is secure to the second panel, pull it off the first piece of tape (or cut it with a razor blade etc). I can only assume that the 57 members who viewed this post between the time I posted it and the time of this reply were also interested in how to finish-off a seam like the masters. He explained that he has in the past posted information on the procedure he has found to be the most effective over his lifetime of metal shaping but that that information has always been lost in the deluge of collateral (related and unrelated) information that usually accompanies posts on MM. During our phone conversation Wray went through the prep and procedure for me and I am passing my notes from that conversation on to all.
I (like you) will be practicing these techniques while finding it reassuring to know that what I am doing is in-line with the proven methods practiced by those who repeatedly produce professional results.
For those of us who had no idea of the time one should expect to spend on a weld here is a shocker for ya?.! I had already beveled the edges and had a tight fit but was blowing holes and making globs. Still have some arrangement to do but there is no sense in doing that until I get more panels in place.
The next thing I want to do is build the cabin structure that the aluminum skin will fasten to. Ideas or suggestions as to how to approach this, or other aspects of the build, are always welcome. The various angles will be welded to the outer frame as will the floor stringers and finally the floor.
It took longer to lay the two pieces on top of each other and tweek until they were identical than it did to make them. If you've ever taken the skin off a car, you'll understand all the internal structure and bracing that gives the body it's strength. I decided that the next step was to lock down the floor and sub frame structures relative to the cabin.

There are three main floor supports that will be cut for the drive shaft AFTER the trans tunnel and drive shaft tunnel are welded in place. The two pieces were measured, TIGed together, fit to the car, cut apart, re-measured, re-cut, re-Tiged and finally welded in place. The next thing is to locate the major components such as the gas pedal, seat, brake pedal, steering column, etc. The rear hoop I showed last time was too low so I redid it at the same level as the dashboard hoop.
I also put a piece of rod on top of the firewall to represent the flow of the hood and grill shell. I asked Bennett Chapman pick up a set of Rocky Hidden Hinges and latches at the Knoxville Nationals. The decklid bodywork will come to the level of the back of the seat without the headrest on it. I've been kind of distracted with the shrinker project but have been getting some work done.
It can sometimes be much more convenient to have an existing door hanging on the other side of the door frame than you currently have it. Spin the door horizontally through 180 degrees so that the existing door handle is on the new opening side.
Re-fix the latch plate on the other side of the door frame(see fitting a door handle) and make good the old hole with some two part epoxy wood filler.
The "hobbit house" he built for our natural playground has a sense of whimsy, wonder and delight.
When people come into the house now, the first thing they want to do is go over and see the door.
All Doug's Found Wood products are unique, handmade, works of art from an extremely skilled artisan who is passionate about wood and woodworking.
Whether it's an Adirondack chair, a door latch, a lamp, a deck, or a boathouse, every element of every product is hand made by Doug. Beyond wood, Doug also makes all of the stained-glass panels for his doors, and hand-paints and stains many of his pieces. I've learned a lot; about metal shaping, about engines, about chassis, about friends, and about me. Unfortunately, too many designers and no single decision maker led to a bunch of design compromises that made the cabin too small for my 6-2" body.
After a few weeks reflection I decided that what I really wanted was to build the aluminum body. A new frame will be built from the front clip rearward and the motor will be relocated to the rear so everything is behind the front wheels and the wheelbase is where I want it (where ever that is, probably less than it is now.) New springs and lowering techniques will bring the chassis to the correct height. Another good friend, Dutch Comstock, had spent the week with Bennett doing some metalshaping with Bennett and he decided to stay over and help out.
I want the rear fenders to mirror the lines of the decklid and I may do less of a boattail so I have room for a gas tank. I can easily adapt the Jag Chevy rear pattern to the 6x4.5 pattern of the Durango or I can adapt to pretty much anything. Since the weather was nice, I decided to pull everything I wanted to keep out of the Dakota cab before it gets full of spiders and wasps this summer.
The Dakota already has a 3.50 rear and even with the larger tires, with the new body being so light, it should still scoot pretty well and Mopar gears are cheap and easy. I think I can get the car on the road quicker and CHEAPER by modifying the 3.50 Dakota than overhauling the Jag. James built a full size wooden buck, built the body to the buck and than had to fit the body to the frame.
It tool about 10 attempts before I figured out the correct amount of pre-stretch so the panel was flat when the bead was put in.
Obviously the seams will be sealed but the laps over instead of under will keep water from being driven in the seams. John's machine is super stiff but I've got the handwheel in a very awkward position and it's too small. Had some machines to get ready to take to LineX tomorrow and had some 'stuff' in the paper and had people calling and dropping by all afternoon. Here is the floor board sitting on the stiffners and subframe rails and those sitting on body mount pads for height. The tunnel will be the 'beam' that supports the center or the floorpan once everything is welded in place. The hood will be just a bit over the air cleaner and the tops of the fenders will be about 6" above the tires.
The chassis was stripped and trailered and sat outside while we worked on the roof and assembled machines to take to SunNFun. The photos Tuck took at Bugly just didn't show the big picture because we couldn't get far enough away.
This will be something the airplane guys can relate to as it looks like a big wheel pant (airplane fender).
I'll try and get her back outside and take some photos with everything done to date if the weather clears and we don't have too much stuff in the way. Wray Schelin posted a photo of a sheet metal buck he was designing for the original Bugatti project.
The fenders are the same on both sides of the center except for the intersection of the fairing and wheel opening which I'll just flip flop.
This slipped over the skinny part of the wood fine but on the back I cut a slot with a saber saw that the metal slides into. When we got back we kind of fell into a major renovation project on the shop that has pretty well consumed me and I've still got a month of work to do. Originally, I was going to make my own tool posts but life got in the way and I just called Stan and ordered them.
Unless your overlap is extreme, you should see some of the first piece of tape sticking out.
I am acting solely as the messenger here and in no way believe that because the information came to me from the Master I am threfore one of them.
Everything fits tight to the buck except for the very bottom where I need to do some more shrinking to get it to roll under a little more.
This will be a slow process and I'd like to get it pretty much done before I haul the car up to Dutch's meet so we don't have to sit around doing grunt work and focus on shaping and welding.
Dutch Comstock continues to share his wisdom and experience which continues to be invaluable.
James build a magnificent full size wooden buck, built the body, built the chassis, and then fit the body to the chassis.
The firewall will be 14 ga steel (probably with an aluminum face> I already have the 14 ga and its heavy enough it won't need any beads so the firewall will be slick and smooth. Richard Crees recommended not welding the floor down until construction is further along for accessibility.

I'm going to err on the side of more structure since I have lots of power for the weight of the car. After playing with rivets at SunNFun I'm considering that approach where hidden bolts won't work.
I had already made the floor pans but after Richard Crees suggested not putting them down till after all the work was done so that I could stand INSIDE the car I decided to go that route.
John Buffington was in town and came out to play Tuesday night and he was working on these pieces. I've thought about having suicide doors but the rear door line NEEDS to be curved to match the shape of the fender so I guess I'll go with front hinged doors with a vertical front line. I'm THINKING about a rear end with twin headrests molded into the deck similar to the Pontiac Solstice and many other cars.
In a world of straight lines, not only do I find the curves of nature interesting they are often structurally superior.
From the smallest plant stand to the largest building, every piece of wood that finds its way into his work is recovered from his seventy-acre wood lot in Athens, Maine. Finally, being a practical sort, I knew that I had to start with the constraints of the mechanics and the physical cabin then design a beautiful body around those constraints. It was pretty obvious that while I might be able to make this car look like I wanted, it would never be the car I wanted.
He suggests building the buck ON the frame and just building the body which is what I had in mind. There is probably a way to tie that into the rear end ratio but I didn't sleep much last night and my brain is mushy this morning.
What I discovered is that I could set pressure with the handwheel, load the metal with the quick release and just wheel until I could tell the machine had stretched all it was for that setting. I'll trim the inside line of the floorboard after I get the trans and driveline humps made.
The tranny hump will be a bit complicated but I want as much footroom as I can get and still be able to get the tranny out.
I have some 85psi urethane that is 1.5" thick and I'm using that for temporary body mounts. Its' supposed to rain tonight so this afternoon my son Cam and I pushed the chassis back in the shop.
I know he was planning on cutting them out on his plasma table but he'd still have to deal with the slag.
Since the tape is the exact same width, if you were careful in laying both pieces, the edge of the second piece should be exactly transferred to the second panel. Richard used red and blue so you could see how it works, obviously you don't need to use different colors of tape.
Remembering that Dick Bear had talked to Wray Schelin about this very subject when he was working on the McBearn, I dug up the post. So, if your family is waiting one you to go to the mall, may I suggest that you wait to weld that seam at a later time! If he had it to do again, he said he would just build the body ON the chassis which is the approach I'm taking. Once everything is fitted to the wood and all the holes are in the final location, I can transfer to the steel and swap out the wood. I'll make the door jambs and frame the same way, but weld two angles edge to edge to create a C instead of an L. Alternatively, I could bond aluminum to the steel and rosette weld (spot weld like) the aluminum to aluminum with TIG.
Still I needed all the cross supports welded to the side rail sub frame and all that bolted to the chassis.
The floor pans will sit over the top and I'll use a chassis punch to make holes for access to the bolts.
When the seat is in it's final position and I know the range of adjustment I can determine what the door opening needs to be so I can actually get in and out of the car without using a crane. He studies each piece to discover the untapped form or function hidden inside it, then works to set that potential free. The Dakota is right in the middle and has a nice 318 MOPAR small block that I'm familiar with.
For $800 Street and Performance will make me a new harness for the EFI and trans, using my connectors. Given what everyone is saying, that should certainly be high enough so I'm feeling better about the Jag. Don't really have a clue how much all that weighs but I'm thinking not a lot over 2000 lbs. This gave me a consistent stretch for each bead and as long as I don't change the adjuster, I should be able to make all the beads I need quickly and easily. I have to clear the muffler rings in the X member which are 1" above the top of the frame so 1.5" gives me clearance. The last 10% efford to get it perfect takes more time than I'm probably going to be willing to do. James also used .080 aluminum for his inner structure but said if he was doing it again he'd use steel so again I'm taking that approach.
Fabrication involved cutting slits, bending the angle to the approximate shape, TIGing it together, grinding the welds smooth, and touching up with the shrinker stretcher.
My formal training is in engineering, while my love is in the visual arts, particularly in sculpture.
An S10 chassis came to mind but I wanted something with a little more power and a little bigger.
He said if he had it to do again, he'd use steel for the floor, door jambs, door interior frame, firewall etc, dash, etc and mount the skin to the frame.
A more flexible machine would require another way of montioring the stretch because the frame has more spring load. I'm not sure I'll keep the footwell exactly like this but it's close enough for mockup and can be changed until I weld everything together. Once they were cleaned up of all the slag, I stacked them, clamped them, and ground the edges to the correct profile and consistency. I've got to get it on tires, take some photos of the chassis with the motor and firewall in place and make some sketches. So for this incarnation, I'll go with a modified stock harness and the stock guages and column.

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