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Question of the Day: What is the Most Under Appreciated Platform to Build a Hot Rod Off Of?

Question of the Day: What is the Most Under Appreciated Platform to Build a Hot Rod Off Of?

Don Garlits had a great line back in the 1960s. He said that when he told people he was a professional drag racer, they looked at him in the same way they look at a kid who asked for a pony and didn’t get it at Christmas. I have been getting a couple of those looks from friends, family members, concerned neighbors, small children, and clean handed car guys with the addition of Buford the Caprice to the BangShift fleet. With the fully boxed frame, big sway bars, heavy duty everything and rear wheel drive, what’s not the like? Hell, one guy on Facebook wondered aloud why we would use a Caprice to start a project as they weigh about 3700lbs to start with. Hello? Seen what a new Camaro/Challenger/Mustang weighs? This sedan is a flyweight compared to those lard asses! Sure, the car has four doors, but is also has scads of room inside for kids, tools, parts, long blocks, etc. The Caprice is certainly not everyone’s cup of tea, but no car is everyone’s cup of tea.

That’s my story with the Caprice, but that is just one example. There’s lots of iron with potential out there that dates back to the 1970s and 1980s but it seems like people are afraid of what the public opinion court will think of them for wrenching on it. We seem to live by the motto, “Why be normal?” around here so we encourage anyone who wants to wrench on anything to get after it and damn the torpedoes of public opinion. Let ’em laugh as your kick their asses all over the place.

So what are some other underappreciated platforms to wrench on and build up? What’s the most under appreciated of all?


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19 thoughts on “Question of the Day: What is the Most Under Appreciated Platform to Build a Hot Rod Off Of?

  1. CdmBill

    The most under appreciated these days seem to be what was once traditional, swaping big power American engines into light wiegtht foriegn cars. A great example is the LS into 3rd gen RX7, but there are lots of others that would make sense, but the anti anything foriegn camp within the broader hot rodding communiity makes the person doing the swap a target for real undeserved nastiness. Big blocks in 240Z’s remain a favorite of mine as the 70’s version of the Anglia panel trucks and Cobras of the 60’s.

    Your Caprice is cool, Car Craft writer McGann’s Crown Vic is cool in my book for the same reason. We can’t all have 69 Camaros right?

  2. Greg

    Don’t listen to anyone Brian, the Caprice is cool. All of us here “get” it.
    As for me, I always wanted to do a DJ-5 Jeep. Full frame and a Dana 44, plus they don’t weigh anything. And right hand drive just because.

  3. John

    People that question the sense of someone building a retired cop car are the same folks that think the only muscle car is a red camaro.

    Anyone with real car sense understands the beauty of the cop car platform – the ol’ moonshiners weren’t dumb! A quick listen to the Steve Earl song Copperhead Road will remind us that cop cars as moonshine runners were a favorite – and for the same good reasons you’re building Buford.

    That said – some of the most under appreciated platforms to build have to come from AMC, Matador anyone?

  4. Lon

    I’d say any 80’s to 90’s mini truck, foreign or domestic. In Cali you couldnt get away with it but a V-8 swaps in somewhat easily, it’s full frame, and cheap. Plus if you dont go crazy with the suspension you can still haul with it.

  5. Robert MacConnell

    The old lady down the street from me has a Mercury Bobcat. It is your typical untouched original old lady car.
    I have aspirations for that thing involving turbochargers, intercoolers and other such things.
    Regarding Buford, It is unquestionably cool. Those who don’t see that simply lack vision.
    Personally, I would drop in a 500ci Cadillac and quiet mufflers.

  6. dee_dee_railed

    Big body ‘Merican cars sitting on frames are my favorite starting platforms, after pick-em-ups, and, of coarse, the most versatile vehicle on the road…the full-size van. While these monsters used to roam free in the world of custom car culture, they have, as everything does, fallen out of fashion. Everyone seems to forget that the only reason ’32 Fords, 49-51 Fordcuries, Tri-Five Chevys, and 60’s muscle cars ever became popular was for three basic reasons, cheap, plentiful, and they had V8’s. It’s been a winning combination for an average American looking to build something fun without going into the red for some time. At the moment, trucks, SUV’s, and vans are about all that’s out there, and nobody seems to care.

  7. chris

    My buddy has a 69 442 he ran at new england, with no exhaust and slicks on it it would run 11.40’s all day. it weighed 3900 and change, so that Caprice with everything is already ahead of the game in the Diet dept.

  8. floating doc

    Oh, this car certainly weighs about 3700.

    My 79 LTD weighed exactly that on a certified scale. That was a very similar car; produced as the first year for the panther platform it was re-named as the Crown Victoria a few years later.

    I pieced it together through several years of college and veterinary school.

    I scrounged the police sway bars, fender braces, certified speedometer, a set of Cougar bucket seats and some other bits at the local U-pull yards. The body got a fresh coat of Deltron and new bumpers. The suspension got poly bushings, performance shocks and tires, 15 inch steelies (came with 14’s) and dog dish hubcaps.

    We built a small block with ported E7TE heads (the only affordable option at the time) with a cam and roller rockers, shorty headers, Holly/Edelbrock/K&N, 2 1/4 inch duals and flowmasters and a built C4 with a wide ratio gear set (poor man’s overdrive).

    It was a great highway cruiser. We traveled a lot in that car, so I kept the 2.23 rear end for highway mileage. Not a lot of torque off the line even with the wide ration gear set in the transmission, but it would pull hard at highway speeds; second gear was good for 90 mph at 5500.

    Did it make sense? Of course not! I still miss it, and if I had the car today it would have a fuel injected big inch windsor, a T56, big brakes, and I still wouldn’t care what anyone else thought.

  9. Anthony

    Those b-bodys are excellent cars from the get go right through to 1996,you can only make them better. Very under apprciated.

  10. Anonymous

    Back in the late eighties I added my father in-laws 77 olds delta 88 to our fleet. He ordered it new with all the Police extras checked off (He was in the RCMP at the time). We loved that car, did a little work to he 6.6, added better shocks, and did a little exhaust work. It was a great cross country car expesially into he mountains of BC. Always felt lighter than what it was and gave the sports car guys fits.

  11. Scott Liggett

    Mavericks/Comets. Flyweights that Ford did so well with parts sharing.

    Fairmont/Zephyr A Fox Mustang with better looking skin. Last cool looking Pro Stocks.

    73-79 Nova’s and breathren. The later ones have to get smogged here in Cali. That makes them dirt cheap.

    71-74 Ventura/ Apollo/ Omega. Imagine one of these with a torque monster BOP 455. (My last street was against a 455 Buick Apollo.

    Portly boats. Galaxies, Fury’s, Satellites, Impalas, Catalinas, etc. Big cars came with big V8’s.

    73-77 Monte Carlos. All of them came with V8’s, disc brakes, 8.5″ 10 bolt rears. And, they handled fantastic. The reason why Earnhardt drove one until until 1983.

  12. Doc

    I love those Caprice and Crown Victoria’s, I like 80’s G body, they can still be found cheap and 90’s full size 2 wheel drive GMC or Chevy pick-ups are quite nice.
    They’re all comfy, have lots of room inside, have easy to find parts and upgrades, can be found for cheap and are easy to work on. I love these, they’re great cars for long distance and don’t attract too much of unwanted attention to them. I had a ’96 GMC Sierra, it had no mufflers but had full length exhaust it was quiet enough (at part throttle) that I never got pulled over by cops. It was a great truck I miss it 🙁

  13. Speedy

    Most underappreciated:

    1. Panther platform Fords, Lincolns and Mercurys
    2. Non-Mustang Fox Fords, Lincolns and Mercurys
    3. Falcons
    4. AMCs from the 1960s
    5. RWD Mopars built between 1976 and 1989

  14. 50tbrd88

    83-88 Thunderbird/Cougar. Cheap, light, nice cars that accept a lot of the same goodies as the fox body Mustangs.

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