Jeff Rankin
Camarillo, California

Bob Condie
Milpitas, California

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Caroselli Design logoContact Henry Caroselli
Caroselli Design
214 Main St., Unit # 15-B
El Segundo, CA 90245
(310) 322-2767

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What are Rodster® owners saying about the Rodster®?

A Few Words With Jeff Coy

High Point, North Carolina

Jeffrey Coy drove out from North Carolina to Southern California
with his son and his son's friend to pick up his Rodster Street Rod kit.

They took it back to North Carolina and put it together.

I see you have the sedan delivery version...

Yes, that's right.

Henry tells me you had a big adventure driving all the way across the country to pick it up...

Right. I came out with my son and a friend of his. My family lives in Northern California. So we did some sightseeing on the way in and picked it up at Henry's shop in El Segundo.

You didn't drive your donor Blazer out?

No. The Blazer was, when I bought it -- even though it was a '92 -- out in a field. It was not operational.

I saw the picture with the  box and canoe on top of the truck...

We had to modify the box so it would fit on the truck. Henry had it crated up for normal shipment and when I came out there, we picked it up and I had my camper with me and a canoe on the top. So the box had to be modified slightly to get it home. But it made it home. It was so tall that we had to cut half the box off that wasn't being used and shuffle things around. And we moved the canoe over to one side and stuck the box up over on the other side. What we ended up doing on the trip home was, I modified the box even more and we put the canoe back to the center so the aerodynamics were better and set it over the top of the box. Believe it or not, the canoe gives us about two more miles to the gallon.

Do you carry the canoe just for that reason or do you actually canoe?

We do use it. I carry it because it does get better mileage, but we do use it for paddling and fishing and it comes along with us. It's definitely not a deficit, if you know what I mean.

Did you camp when you came out here?

Last year we came out on the Harley. Took a six thousand mile trip. I've got three weeks vacation, actually four, and we're coming out again. Different route. We've been doing it since he was three years old.

How many hours can the two of you ride on the Harley?

We usually put in about a ten-hour day. And of course, that's not all riding, because you've got to stop for fuel and whatever. You can do more than that, but that's not a vacation when you start going into endurance run. What our routine is, we'd start on off, then we'd pull into a motel and check in and we'd go swimming, shower, and then go out for dinner. Then we'd take off in the morning. And there were some places we did camp. When you're up at some of the national parks, there just aren't motels there.

Who needs one up there? Why don't you take the trip in your Rodster Street Rod next time?

I thought about it. It would be interesting, but I don't know how many more years I'll be interested in or be able to ride on the Harley. So I'm going to do that while I can, while my son's old enough -- because a lot of years, he just wasn't old enough to take a trip like that. He's a very patient individual for those long rides.

Sounds like a great trip. Tell me about your donor Blazer...

I got it at a good enough price that I could repair it, which I did. I spent $900 on the Blazer, so I had plenty of room for the wholesale on $2,700-$2,800, so I had plenty of room to play with.

How many miles were on it?

Right at 97,000. I bought it from the second owner. The first owner and his girlfriend were going to Appalachian State, which is in Boone. It's about 75 miles, 80 miles, and they did a lot of commuting in it, so they ran up the miles.

What kind of engine is in it?

It's got the 4.3L V-6 "W" which is the central-port fuel injected one. The engine was in good shape other than the fuel injection. The fuel injection was leaking and made a mess. The transmission was gone -- he had let a seal go bad and it just self-destructed. But the engine -- I did not rebuild it because when I checked it out, the compression and everything was just fine on it. It runs well.

Where do you live?

I live in High Point, North Carolina. It's in The Triad. Not quite the foothills, before you hit the mountains.

Were you raised in Northern California?

I was born in San Jose and I was raised in a little town called Murphy. Ever heard of the Calaveras County Jumping Frog contest? That's in Angels' Camp, 14 miles away from where I was raised. Between the military and everything else, I ended up out here. It's a good standard of living without the rat race. So I stayed, but still come back annually to visit my family.

What do you do for a living?

I work for Philips Medical Systems. I do medical x-ray, cardiovascular, generated graphic, CT, MR... I service and install. Quite a technical field. There's a lot you have to learn in it and you don't work on just one piece of equipment. I've been at it for 23 years. Philips is the same one that makes the TV's. And Philips Lighting is another one of our companies. In fact, that was one of the first things Philips was into. Our headquarters is in Washington, but we're owned by the Dutch in Eindhoven, Netherlands. So we get to go there a couple times a year for training. Wouldn't have seen Europe if I hadn't been with the company. 

How did you find out about the Rodster Street Rod?

I got Kit Car magazine and Henry's ad was in there. I liked the idea that it wasn't trying to be anything, even though the one model resembles the Ford. It wasn't trying to be a Lamborghini or a Cobra. It was its own little unique thing and it was very -- I guess the word would be -- doable. It was a project you could do within a reasonable cost. I originally was going to build the little coupe that Henry sells, but the Blazer that I had was in such good shape I ended up going with the sedan delivery.

You just hated to cut up your Blazer?

Yeah. If it had been a little older and there had been more damage, yeah, I would have definitely gone with the coupe (roadster). 

So are you the kind of guy who is into cars? Have you worked with cars for awhile?

I've done a lot of things in my life and yeah, I do work on cars. It's been just something I've done. A while back, I took a pickup truck and completely rebuilt it. Just something to do. I'd been wanting to build a kit car for a long time. Back when I was a teenager, you know, the Volkswagen Dune Buggy was in. Of course, they were $1,000-$1,500, but that was the moon back in the Sixties. For me, it was. [Now] I have the time and the extra money to do it [build a kit car].

Did you check out other kit cars? Were you shopping?

Not really. I found the design that I liked and I found what I liked. After going to the Rodster website, I said, "This is a very reasonable project and the vehicle you have is going to be driveable." So that's why I chose to go with it.

Did you read the other owners' stories about their build-ups on the website?

Yes. I went through the one where they had all the pictures where they had gone through the build-up and everything.

The Condie family that did it all together?

Yeah. I had my son with me and he helped me some, but most of it, I just did it when I felt like it. It could be done in a shorter period, but it probably took me the better part of a year because I'd leave it alone for a while. If I rush something, it doesn't come out like I'd like it. And some things took some thought to work out the detailing as I wanted it.

Do you have any idea of how many hours you put into it?

What Henry quoted is fairly reasonable. You know, that they take 100 to 200 hours. That's well within reason. If you took the time I did it in and combined it into a block, that would be about right.

How old is your son?

He's fifteen.

Is he a car guy himself?

Not yet.

But you're working on him.

Not really. I try to teach him what I can, but his interest isn't real great.

What did you think of the kit itself? The quality of the fiberglass?

The fiberglass was fine. I didn't have any problems with it. The fit and finish were fine. It required a little bit of work as he said it did. Most of it worked like it was supposed to. Took a little customizing in some spots, but it wasn't that hard to figure out. Most of it worked out just as he said it would.

Were you pleasantly surprised about that?

No, not really. Considering how it's designed and how it's laid out, no, I wasn't. That was something I was really expecting. I'm not surprised that it did. After talking to Henry, it was more of what I expected than what I didn't expect. There were some things in his instructions that I went into a little more detailing and as I did, I made some suggestions to him. The things that maybe came out a little easier, a little better. But generally, with his instructions, we'd get it done quite well.

So you liked the Rodster Assembly manual?

Yeah, it was pretty good. There were some spots where we really had to think about it, but most of it worked out fine. And of course, there were some things that I did my way, because I wanted a little variance in it. His [instructions] would take moderate skill; if you had a little extra skill, you could go beyond his.

That's one of the cool things about the Rodster Street Rod -- you can customize it the way you want. You obviously have mechanical ability. Do you think the average homebuilder type could build one of these?

Yes, definitely. You would have to have a working knowledge of tools. You couldn't be ten thumbs. With the average? Yes, you could go in and build it quite easily.

Did you have fun building it?

Oh, yeah. I enjoyed a lot of it; got aggravated with some parts of it, and that's when I had to walk away and then go back at it again. On mechanical things you want to do, there's always that bolt in an obnoxious place. But the kit part was pretty straightforward. It was something I used as a hobby, and just could do. And that's why I wasn't in a rush to get it done.

You were enjoying the process so much...

Exactly. If it became a nuisance, if I got annoyed with it, it was time to walk away and come back to it when it could be a hobby as I wanted it to be.

What did your son help you with?

Most of it was holding, putting, aligning. When we put the fiberglass on, he was there with me. You know, the rear flares and things. Some things are definitely two people jobs. Most of it -- the majority, eighty percent of it -- you could do yourself.

Did it make for a good father/son bonding experience?

Well, I guess his interest isn't totally into that. So he helped me when he did, and we enjoyed that when we did. We go riding in it occasionally.

How was it dealing with Caroselli Design?

No problem at all. I only had to ask a couple of questions -- and mainly it was in the clarity [issue, in regard to] one of the pictures in the manual -- and once I figured out what he was really saying and doing, it was pretty straight forward. It was just a clarity in the reproduction of the picture.

But Henry was helpful with your questions?

Oh, yeah. Mine is a '92 with ABS, so I modified mine so the ABS works and it stayed there. And I've had several people e-mail me for how I did that. I sent some pictures to Henry of the modification I made to make the ABS work. Since ABS is only in certain years, only certain people have it. I think it was just one of those things where he could pass the information on to other people. Now that I've got a digital camera, I might take some more detailed pictures. It's kind of hard to explain; everybody's wanting exact dimensions and there are no exact dimensions. It's kind of where it went, you know, how it fell into place. But it worked quite well.

How much are you driving it?

It's just a Sunday driver, virtually. It's not an everyday [driver]. It just sits in my garage and I drive it periodically. I like to get the oil warm and put a few miles on it.

Are you having fun with it?

Oh, yeah. Gets a lot of looks. People can't figure out what it is. It gets quite a bit of looks.

What are some of the comments you get?

"What is it" and "who made it?" And I say, "It's a kit and I made it. It's a kit by Henry Caroselli and I made the car." Most of them can figure out once they look at it what it was made from. But you have to look at it. It doesn't really jump out at you. With the weld-on pan that I put on it, it's there... people who know a Chevy S-10 Blazer know what it is. But most people do not.

What are your plans for it? Are you going to show it? Are you going to tour with it?

It's just something to put together and it doesn't cost me that much to keep it. The insurance is negligible and it doesn't cost anything for the space in the garage. It just shares it with the Harley.

Did you build it in the garage?

Uh, huh. I just have a single car garage and built it in there.

Did you do the paint, as well?

No, that I took out. That was something I didn't want to challenge myself. I sent Henry the pictures, but the copy of it, he thought it was black. It's not, it's the dark metallic green that came with it. That way, all the interior and all the doorjambs were painted. Everything matched. It looked like it belonged there. We had the stripe added for detail to set things off. The color looks very good on it. It's a dark green metallic -- if you ever look up a '92, that's the color it is. We went back with it, with a clear coat over it.

How much do you have invested in this?

I've got $11,843 and some odd cents. I kept records.

Do you think you got enough bang for the buck?

Well, yeah. Also, in that was... I had to rebuild the automatic transmission. That was $1,000. You know, just the fuel injection was almost $400. Those were things that were gone and needed to be done in the mechanics of it. While I was in there, I replaced the alternator, the water pump, and some other things like that. All new hoses. If it's going to run, I'm going to make sure it runs right. And we put the air conditioning back in it -- that's kind of obligatory for the South.

It's virtually a totally restored '92 S-10 Blazer, you know, the interior and everything. Headliner, carpet, seats, everything has been redone on it. Even a new windshield. You see what I put into it for the money. New wheels, tires, transmission rebuild, the engine reworked, and suspension redone. Also, I replaced the leaf springs in the rear. I've done a little extra work on it. I put keyless entry on it. It looks brand new when you get into it. What Henry said you could put one together for, you very easily could. As a matter of fact, you can see what you can accomplish for that dollar value. You can do a lot of rework on the donor. Because when you get one, it's going to have right at 100,000 miles on it anyway, because you're not going to be wanting to spend $5,000 or $6,000 on your donor. And the donor is readily available. It's a little harder to find the two-wheel drive. Lots of four-wheel drives -- but you have to look a little harder for the two-wheel drives. And of course, you have to have the two-door. But they're out there, you just have to look a little harder. Because only 25% of all built were built with two-wheel drive. That's Henry's quote. It's about right.

Some guys have built four-wheel drive Rodsters...

Not that it couldn't be done, it would just be a different animal. I don't know if I'd want all the extra mechanics on it, the transfer case and everything. Because the frame and chassis is entirely different from the four-wheel drive to the two-wheel drive. Generally, with the miles on them, you have to rebuild the suspension anyway. Part of it you do when you put the lowering kit on, but there are other things that have to be replaced anyway. It drives very firmly, almost like a new vehicle once you get it done.

How many miles do you think you've got on your Rodster Street Rod?

Very little, because it's only a weekend driver. I've probably put 300 or 400 miles on it since it's been a Rodster.

When did you finish?

About a year ago.

What kind of places do you go cruising in it?

Oh, mainly I go around town and go shopping in it. It's great for grocery shopping. I put keyless entry on it so you can pop open the back glass and you don't have to stoop over. You can throw all the groceries in the back.

Are you going to let your son drive it next year when he turns sixteen and gets his license?

If he's interested. That's one of the reasons I kept the 4.3 liter in it.

What do you think of the civilized aspects of the Rodster as opposed to more impractical rods?

It definitely could be a daily driver if you so chose. When I lowered it, it handled horribly. So I bought some aftermarket springs and the suspension rides as well as it did with the regular height on it. So it's quite adequate a ride. You could use it daily. It's got every convenience you'd want in it. I just do not because... I have lots of vehicles. I have a company car, a 2000 Silverado, I have my Rodster, and I have two Harleys. I have plenty of vehicles.

What do you think is the best thing about the Rodster Street Rod?

That it's something in a reasonable dollar value that you can truly build. It is buildable. It's not something that you have to put hours and hours and hours and years on building up. And when I have something that I need to fix on it, I just buy parts for a '92 S-10 Blazer. That's very nice. All the main running gear on it... I can go to any auto parts store and get the parts for it. There's nothing exotic.

Would you recommend the Rodster to other people?

Oh, yeah. As a matter of fact, I've got some of Henry's cards. If anybody asks about it, I get one out of the glove compartment and give it to them. He's got a postcard with the two Rodsters on it and his website address and the phone number. And if anybody's curious... he gave me a stack of them and I hand them one if they ask about it.