Part 2 of 4 – Fiberglass vs Steel Bodies
How you choose between fiberglass and steel bodies is a matter of which reasoning best suits your taste and budget. Below is the second installment of our 4 part series comparing these two options.
There’s nothing like a nice original steel solid body. However, good luck finding any these days. It used to be that primo original bodies were always popping up in farmer’s barns, but those farmers wised up, and sold those “Barn Finds” for big money. Most virgin steel bodies have been modified by somebody else or have rusted into the earth. Finding a survivor typically means spending a lot of time and money repairing or replacing any remaining sheet metal. Buying a ready-to-go reproduction may be the solution for people who are eager to hit the street.
The advantage of original bodies is that, whatever you want to build, there is a possibility that you’ll find one. Go the reproduction route and you’re limited to what is on the market. This may also be the deciding factor in the glass versus steel bodies. Deuce roadsters are available in steel from many sources, but for something like a 1939 Ford reproduction body, fiberglass is your only option. Many fiberglass bodies are design extensions of traditional bodies. Trying to turn an original 1933 Ford three window into something as wild as the Speedster is not realistic for a backyard rod builder and would end up costing more than buying one. Some factors such as firewall location, roof styles (chopped or stock), and hinge styles (hidden or stock) will also affect which reproduction body you’ll want to consider.
For most hot rodders, availability is not a question of what is on the market, but of what is in their wallet. Cost as is the primary reason for selecting a fiberglass body. A fiberglass car will be far less expensive than a steel-bodied car. A first-time builder is going to be conscious of the cost. A steel body is going to add at least $10,000 to the price. There is more to budget than just the initial cost. Buy the cheapest body you can, and chances are, you’ll pay in other areas, such as quality or the amount of work required to turn that body into a decent rod.
Resale value is another important budget consideration. A few years down the road, a steel-bodied car is likely to bring a higher price than a fiberglass car because of desirability and other factors. Should you get in an accident, though, fiberglass replacement parts are more prevalent than steel.