are Rodster® owners saying about the Rodster®
A few words with
Fort Meyers, Florida
was half-way through building his Rodster when we recorded his first
impressions here. He followed up later, (see below) when he completed
Whats your car
history? Were you ever into building them?
When I was a child, a kid,
with my father. When I saw the Rodster in one of the Kit Cars, it intrigued
me because it was unique.
What kind of cars did
you build with your father?
We had a 53 Chevy,
a V8 was put in, that was my first car, a 56 Chevy Vette, I paid
$150 for and it had no floor panels, no rockers, the fenders were all
gone, rusted out. We ended up rebuilding that, put a rebuilt short block
engine in it and a stick transmission and I got it painted and it was
cool car. I had it in high school.
Bob Phelps inspects his
Rodster® shipment on arrival.
Do you work on your
own car now?
When I get the chance. Yes.
Between that and boats and projects, yes. Currently, I have a 69
El Camino; Im doing work on that and the Rodster, working on the
What kind of boat?
We have a 25 foot Well Craft.
Will the El Camino
be towing it?
No, the El Camino actually
is my driver, the car Im going to be driving all the time. I live
in Florida, you need air conditioning. I still drive it and use it as
a truck. Its definitely a 2 and with some work, it could be a
1, but Im not going to show it at this point. Not a day goes by
that when I pull up at a stop sign, somebody doesnt give me a
thumbs up or take a look at the vehicle. Thats what I expect to
happen even more with the Rodster.
Have you seen any
Im the first one in
Cutting away the Blazer
roof is almost therapeutic.
How far along is your
Im about half-way done
with it. Im at the point where I need to buy the tires and wheels
so I can go on to the back half and move forward.
How easy is it to
Scale of 1 to 10, probably
a 4. Three to four. Its not that difficult at all. If you have
a little common sense and follow the pictures, and the instructions
are so simple. Ive only had to call Henry a few times and say
to him, What did you mean by this? Tell me how to
do this. And he explained it to me and I went, Oh yeah,
that makes sense.
With the roof off, the donor
vehicle is almost ready.
How many hours do
you have in it so far?
I sort of keep track, and
then I quit, so I really dont know. But mine is unique because
I had to pull the engine. I bought a Blazer that was wrecked, and Ive
had to pull the engine and transmission. That took me a lot more time
Did you have to repair
The engine was frozen up.
So I had to pull it out. I bought another wrecked Blazer.
How was the packaging
of the kit?
Came in one package. It was
very well packaged. Very securely packaged.
How about the hand
Its an excellent job
Did you buy the manual
before you bought the kit so you could see if it was something you wanted
to get into?
Yeah. Theres a lot
of less than honorable people in this business. There are a lot of horror
stories out there about buying kit cars and then they never get the
Fitting the rear end is
You mean you pay your
money and they never send it?
Yeah. Myself being in Florida
and Henry in California, I couldnt go to the factory and pick
it up, for economic reasons. So I bought the manual first. Of course,
he refunded the money, so its no big deal. But I wanted to look
at it and see how complicated it was. A lot of it I didnt understand
at the beginning, but once I got into it, I did.
How much do you have
invested so far?
I dont know. Whatever
I paid for the kit, and the Blazer was $800
I probably got another
$200 on top of that. Ive got all my receipts, if I had it put
together, Id give you a definite number. But I havent got
the tires and wheels.
Are you planning to
do anything custom?
I talked about putting in
a nitrous bottle. Giving it another 100, 125 horsepower. Makes it a
lot faster. But besides that, no, its going to be so unique that
I dont see how you need to make it any more customized than it
Two-wheel drive or
Did you get the kit
I would have liked it sooner.
It was a reasonable time.
Have you ever built
Your business is selling
insurance to car dealers?
Used car dealers. For their
buildings, property, clients, tools
So with your contacts
did that help you make a deal on your Blazer?
No, as a matter of fact it
didnt. I bought it off the online service on the Internet.
Ill call when
you get it completed and find out the reactions to the car.
Women will be falling all
Not in this condition.
Good. They might hurt
right about women falling all over my Rodster but my wife continues
to beat them back... oh well.
working on my Rodster due to me taking care of a family member who
was very sick. The Rodster sat in the garage looking back at me
for a year or so (as one gets older time seems to fly by). But I
was encouraged by my wife to get my butt back in the garage and
complete my rod. So back I went, night after night, weekend after
weekend, (thinking all the time, Henry said it ONLY took a couple
days to do one of these projects! Just kidding Henry...
will tell you I was on the phone with him a few times discussing
his use of the English language (his instructions and my boneheaded
interpretation). But night after night the rod was coming together.
I was afraid, since the car sat so long, it would not run. Well
it did but with some problems. My ace mechanic and I finally figured
out that the fuel pump was not producing enough fuel for the engine.
That fixed it.
friend just happens to own a Maaco Auto Body Painting franchise
and gave me a free paint job for my birthday. So he and I one night
started painting my Rodster, it started out as a “ugly duckling”
and turned into a “Princess.” I stole the color (1991 Porsche) from
a hotrod mag....I call it a creamy mint color . . . everybody loves
reinstalling all or most of the stuff Henry said to take off (hey,
again just kidding), I had to drive the Rodster about 1 1/2 hours
north for the Dept. of Motor Vehicles to inspect it (due to being
a re-buildable vehicle after a theft recovery). Of course, I had
to do this on a very rainy Florida day. The hardtop came through
wonderfully, the DMV passed my vehicle (a 2002 built from parts),
and now I have a brand new Rodster.
know you people in the upper 48 states need a hardtop, but mine
is now in storage. Will probably never be on the Rod again. Henry
and I had numerous discussions about a ragtop. I didn't want to
punch any more holes in the Rod so I came up with a design that
most of you can do too. I laid the hardtop on my garage floor, drew
the outline of the top on the floor, and took a pipe bender and
bent (with the Macco-owner's help) electrical conduit to conform
to the shape. After a pipe or two we finally got the form
then drilled two holes where the hardtop attaches behind the door,
and used the same bolt to hold the pipe to the car. I used some
plastic tubing (clear) to keep the pipe off the Rod. I then
cut some more pipe and flatted the ends, so I had two support pieces
that went from the conduit frame to under the roll bar. I then drilled
and tapped two holes in the bottom of the sport bar so the supports
could attach, and drilled and pop-riveted the supports to the frame.
So that I could haul the frame with me, I cut it in half and then
cut a bolt that fits in one-end attaches to the other end with some
had gone over to my local boat-canvas shop and got a piece of rubber
(with a slot built into it) and formed it to the top of the windshield
(use a heat gun and do it slowly). I attached this piece with funny
bolts that have a flat top so they do not show. The ends were
pop riveted into place. I had the rubber piece painted before the
then went back to the canvas shop, they developed a pattern and
built the top out of the same material one would use to enclose
the bed of a pickup. Once the top was sewed together I went back
and we attached the top. You slide the front of the top into the
rubber holder. Then they pulled the top tight. We screwed snaps
into the conduit, (NO HOLES) and punched snaps into the material.
might not be the best top in the world, but it keeps me dry, looks
good and lets us cruise and not worry about rain. I carry this “emergency”
top in the back with me all the time.
cruising this past Saturday, and everybody wants to know what it
is, I just tell them to call Henry...
Cruising to all,