"Get On It!"

Gone Postal - One Insane Hot Rod Coupe

by motorfoot 1/28/2009 12:28:00 PM

"I look for objects that were destined to some mundane existence and give them new purpose through my sculptures."
- Michael Ulman

A few months ago I was surfing the web for an image. It had to be something unusual, a hot rod, with a touch of post apocalypse. It needed to be just right to set the tone for an article I was writing. Not only did I find that image, I found something else worthy of sharing!

Behold "Gone Postal", from the imagination of Michael Ulman.

Michael is an artist and sculptor living in Massachusetts. His passion to create was instilled at a young age while helping his father weld scraps of metal into sculptures twice his size. He also has an obsession for motorcycles, both in his life and his work. Indeed, prior to Gone Postal most of his creations were two wheeled. But as it is written, there is a time and a season for everything!

If you look carefully at this hot rod, you will see the shape of a US Mailbox, or at least part of one. When I initially saw the photos the scale of this sculpture was not apparent to me. I presumed the hot rod was probably a couple of feet long. Way off. It is actually five feet long. The actual dimensions are 60 X 32 x 17 inches.

With rat rods all the rage now days it seems that Gone Postal captures both the essence of a hot rod and possibly some of the philosophy of a rat rod. The natural patina of the body and frame elements fit well with the rat rod philosophy. Even more fitting is the idea of utilizing what's at your disposal, so to speak.

I have always been intrigued that a object such as a car can project soul and energy. Indeed, that is part of the pleasure of owning a hot rod - the emotion that is evoked by simply gazing upon it. Certainly this sculpture evokes similar emotions. But in addition to the lines and shapes, the fun of looking at this sculpture is figuring out what all the parts are (or what all the parts were). And one could spend hours doing just that!

The Build

For those of us who enjoy seeing the progression of a build you are in luck. Michael was kind enough to allow Motorfoot to publish some images by photographer Justin Craig Roth showing the stages of fabrication.

Prior to Gone Postal, most of Michael's creative thoughts were focused on motorcycles. "After making seven plus motorcycles I was anxious to build a Hot Rod" Michael said. "With the engine being the prominent feature in my work the motor had to be exposed. The classic, and most sought after is the 32' coupe, it's the one you picture when you think Hot Rod."

Michael started building Gone Postal in 2002 and completed the work in 2006.

Early on in the four year build Michael recognized the similarities in the shapes of the top of a mailbox and the back of a 32' coupe. "The scale was a perfect size."

Unfortunately finding a donor mailbox is not as easy as one would expect. "The frustrating part" Michael said "was acquiring a mailbox with out evoking the wrath of the FBI or Homeland Security. At the time my brother's girlfriend's mother, who worked at a post office put me in touch with the right person. He had access to the damaged mailboxes. The mailbox was given to me on condition that I removed the paint and photographed the cut box."

So where does Michael come up with the many parts that make up his sculptures? "My friends and acquaintances tend to donate parts. Sometimes people just drop things off on the studio porch. Other times people read about what we do (me and my dad) and make a call to bring over things they think we'll like. Also there are times when I'll buy parts at a flea market, I've learned not to tell some venders what I do with the item. If they knew that it was for art or would be cut apart, they won't sell it to me."

Since Gone Postal Michael has been busy working on a few more four wheeled creations. He just finished a 1960's slingshot dragster featuring a blown Hemi with NOS. Also in the works is a salt flat hot rod and a Supercharged flathead going into a sedan body, and a turbocharged plane. If it has an engine, Michael interested! Although Michael hasn't mentioned it, I can see him venturing into the realm of steam engine transport too!

Michael’s studio is in Roslindale MA and you can visit by appointment. Michael also commissions sculptures and accepts donations of interesting 'junk' parts.


>> - Check out more build pictures in the Motorfoot Gallery!

>> Rat Rod Inspiration - Part 1 - Also on Motorfoot.

>> - Find out more about the artist and his machines.

How to Build a Hot Rod - I have no idea

by motorfoot 12/2/2008 2:07:00 PM

The Jan 2009 issue of Ol' Skool Rodz has a nice article by Alan Mayes called Project Planning 101. As the "101" implies, the article was basic but had some good tips. Therefore, I thought it would be worthwhile to digest the advice and write my thoughts from a novice perspective.

Some of the main points I picked up from the article are:

  • Decide on a budget and stick to it.
  • Plan your build in stages.
  • Don't borrow money.
  • Keep it a roller.
  • Pay as you go.
"You can build a hot rod for $40,000 that is only worth 16K. Don't do it."

So, since I just recently started looking in to building a hot rod I thought I would take some of Alan's tips and mix in my thoughts and experience so far.

Decide on a budget and stick to it.

Because of my budget and lack of experience in building a hot rod my plan was to simply wait for a deal on ebay, but things happen.

I recently went to a hot rod shop to browse and maybe get a new t-shirt. During the visit I struck up a conversation with the shop manager. Well, he was so dad gum enthusiastic about my quest he got me thinking, "Is building a hot rod from scratch a viable option?" So we talked about what I was interested in and he put together an estimate. The bad news. If they were to do the whole thing from scratch it would cost $37,000, and what do you get? 1930's technology for the price of a used 2007 Corvette.

To make the budget I have no choice but to be involved in the build, which isn't a bad thing. I actually want to get back in to the hobby. So what I need to do is determine what makes sense for the builder to do, and what makes sense for me to do. Those are the key questions to answer to make sure this project is a success. It is the only way to get something safe and reliable and not be nickel and dimed by buying every little do dad from the hot rod catalog. Decide on a budget and stick to it.

Plan your build in stages.

Most everything that is moderately complex has components that work together as a system, such as brakes, electrical, tranny, etc. Like a house, there is a preferred order in which the stages should be completed. In addition, once the stages are determined, you can decide which stages you want to tackle, and which stages are beyond your skill level. So planning a build in stages makes a whole lot of sense when you have budget constraints.

Don't borrow money.

That hits home. After studying the quote the shop manager worked up I realized I would barely have a roller when my funds ran out. After that I had this vague idea about funding the "rest of the build" with miracle money. The reality is, I can not afford to borrow money to build a dream car when my daily driver needs work and my home appliances are cranky, and oh, the economy has gone to hell. Not a good time to be in debt. This is where the "build in stages" keeps you engaged. While you are squirrling away your spare change you can be researching the next stage of your build.

Keep it a roller.

What if you lose your job, get sick, or need cash for some unforeseen emergency? If worse comes to worse, a car with wheels is easier to sell or move in a hurry if you have to.

Pay as you go.

If you plan your build in stages you can pay in stages also. This is a win win situation. You don't over extend yourself and your builder has clear understanding of your budget and scope of work. If a stage goes over budget for some reason then you can adjust by waiting a little longer for the next stage or try to find a better deal on parts for the next stage. The key is you have options.


So those are my thoughts from a novice perspective on "Project Planning 101". As I progress in my planning I will write about the issues I come across and post any resources I learn about during the process. My goal is to have a completed hot rod that is safe, reliable, and just what I want. My goal in writing this series is to encourage you to give it a try. And, if you have already been there and done that, please feel free to share your experiences!

Stay tuned for pictures...


>> Rat Rod Inspiration - My Manefesto. It got me here.

The Year of the Rat - Rat Rod Inspiration - Part 1

by motorfoot 8/9/2008 4:59:00 AM

Are you looking for your dream car? Are you researching the new car offerings, but nothing is compelling you? Oh sure, there are a lot of great new cars on the market and more about to arrive in dealer show rooms, but you can't shake that feeling in your gut that something's missing, something's wrong.

Well my friend, you are not alone. The Apocalypse is neigh. Revival is on the way. Behold, the Rat Rod!

"When an industry gets too consumed with itself, whether it be politics or music, the very fans that support the industry start feeling left out..."

Rat Rod, you say? A hunk of rusty old iron? Yes, I say, and here's why. When an industry gets too consumed with itself, whether it be politics or music, the very fans that support the industry start feeling left out, disconnected, discontent. And that is the breeding ground of reform. And reform always goes back to its roots for correction and direction. The Rat Rod is having an impact on our collective psyche. And that's a good thing.

I see several positive aspects about this phenom:

  • A revival of personal creativity.
  • A reintroduction, albeit indirectly, to tratitional hot rods.
  • A reminder of our do-it-yourself roots.
  • A transformation of your garage into a workshop and social gathering spot, cause you're going to need a little help from your friends!

Maybe you have thought about taking up welding, or try your hand at spraying paint or flames, or taking apart an engine? With a rat rod, you can try stuff with no worries. What can you screw up? Can you ruin the resale value? Hell no! Well, maybe a little. But who cares, you bought it cheap!

Lets get back to the basics, back to the roots. Lets build something, and let the others buy $80,000 hot rods. And if you can't build it, so what? Just buy something cheap and do what you can. The point is to jump in and give it a try.

ebay Finds

Just within the last few weeks, I have witnessed some pretty cool rides for less than 13,500 on ebay. Below are just a few examples.

I really wanted this one. The body is original 1928 Ford and no rust holes! It had a unique side profile with 20 inch rear wheels. It sold for 13,500.

This is a 1931 Dodge 3 window coupe. I don't hear about Dodges too often but this one looks mighty fine. The current bid for this is 13,700. It will probably go for a few thousand more due to the style and paint. There is a Bacardi like bat on the rear, and the name of the car is Bootleg Special.

The bids on this 1929 were not high enough to meet reserve so it didn't sell. It has four link rear suspension with air bags. It was really bare bones with a sheet metal bench, a dash consisting of a metal rod to support a few guages. For those who don't build frames, or chop and channel, it would have been a perfect starting point for the remainder of the customization.

Agree or disagree? Do you relate? Share your thoughts here - comment on this article now. 


eBay Rats - More pics in MOTORFOOT Gallery.

MFTV - MOTORFOOT's collection of 30 Rat Rod / Hot Rod videos on YouTube. 

MF Video - Check out the the video pictorial of this article on YouTube! 


Rat Rod photo "Gone Postal" used with permission from artist Michael Ulman. Photograph by Craig Roth.

Woodighini - The story of a Born again Fiero

by motorfoot 7/24/2008 4:30:00 PM

Job 33:28 'He has redeemed my soul from going to the pit, And my life shall see the light.'

O, Canada, home of the T-Rex and the ... Woodighini! Woodighini? WTF is that? That my friend is what you see to your right! A "born again" Pontiac Fiero! You're not going to believe this, but read on anyway!

"If you can't buy it, build it!" That's Woody's motto, and he's got the skills to back it up (and drive it).

Woody is a 33 year old gear head and steel fabricator from Cranbrook, BC, Canada, who one day decided to build a dream car. What's in that Canadian air? I want some!

MOTORFOOT spotted this project on Hub Garage and had to get the story behind it. I really wanted to see this car in person, but alas, we're here in Austin Texas and Canada is like further North than Dallas. So I interviewed Woody via email and composed the conversation for your enjoyment here. So, close your eyes and pretend we traveled to Canada to get the story on the Woodighini. Well, I guess you have to open your eyes. Nevermind. Read on!

MF: So Woody, what led you to build the Woodighini?

It started before I knew it! In July 2007 I received a call from a friend asking me if I wanted a Pontiac Fiero for only $50, so I checked it out! The only thing wrong with the car was the starter. I felt guilty so I paid $60 so I didn't feel like I robbed someone!

MF: When did you start building it?

That car sat outside my window, until the second week of December, that’s when I saw the most amazing car-the Lamborghini Reventon! Just an unbelievable military style mixed with a true exotic, I was hooked!

I found four measurements - length, width, height and wheel base, tape measure in hand to the fiero. No doubt in my mind that was to be my car! Over the Christmas holiday I ordered the first parts: wheels, tires, glass, transmission, engine parts and steel! I’m not one to mess with fiberglass even if it would be easier. Steel is my gift and I'll stick to it! I cut so much of the Fiero away that many times I was asked if I was building a dune buggy? I always gave the same reply, a smile with a Yes! Working weekends and some evenings on the drive train it seemed to look like a dune buggy for months! In June I started working on it more regularly, with the drive train complete, now on to the body.

MF: Well, speaking of drive train, what's under the hood?

The drive is a 350 ci small block Chevy, Scat crankshaft and connecting rods, Keith Black pistons, Comp cam, roller rockers and topped off with a Barry Grant blow through carb. The transmission is a new GM 6 speed standard, the same one they put in the G6 GT, with a Spec racing clutch and modified G6 axles, twin turbo’s and a huge intercooler. To stop all this I have 11 1/4 vented-slotted-crossdrilled rotors matched up with Camaro front calipers and Cadillac rear calipers.

MF: Do you have an idea about how much it might weigh?

I weighed the car on the way back from a car show and it was just over 2000 pounds without the motor/transmission/glass and some minor parts. It should be in the 3000-3500 pound range for sure, with most of the weight just ahead of the rear tires.

MF: How is the car registered? Or, what the heck is it now?

It is registered as an 87 fiero. I can register it as a custom built with a structural inspection. I can insure and drive it as a Fiero with only a safety inspection.

MF: You have come a long way in just a few months! When do you think you will have it completed?

The car should be completed in a couple more months, and then a road trip to remember! She was built to drive not trailer!

MF: Any interesting stories come from your time spend so far building the car?

When I was pulling the fiero apart I found $43 in toonies and loonies, then a friend of mine pulled $24 out of the center console. For the $60 I paid for it I made money!

MF: Do you have any advice for anyone that might attempt something like this?

My advice to others would be to have a well drafted plan of attack on any project, -parts -price -time -etc. I have learned that it doesn't matter if people think you can't do this or that. If you have the determination nothing can stop you!

MF: We can certainly relate! Any plans for another project?

I have been roughing out an idea with one of the design studio's on the Hub. If you think the Woodighini is a challenge or cool LOOK OUT!

MF: Thanks Woody. We appreciate you taking the time to tell us a bit about the Woodighini!

There are a thousand other questions we could ask, but what about you? Questions? Comments? Post em here or go visit Woody at the Hub Garage!


>> - For more pics you can visit Woody's garage at the Hub.

>> - The HubG Homepage.

>> - The Lamborghini_Reventon.

>> MOTORFOOT Gallery - More photos in the MOTORFOOT Gallery!

>> YouTube Video Gallery -  Photos put to music by Photoshocks on YouTube. - A Unique and Growing SNet for Gear Heads (with Pinups Too!)

by motorfoot 7/21/2008 3:08:00 AM

If you are shopping for a virtual garage then you should put on your list. is a SNet (social network) for gear heads. Although the social network space is pretty competitive we always applaud more choices.

MyRideIsMe has all the core garage features you would expect, such as your own garage to park images, a crew (or buddy list), and ability to browse or search by life styles such as Builder, Rat Rod, Hot Rodder, HAMB, etc. They also have an image gallery with an impressive number of cool rides. But wait, that's not all...if you like pinup models (and who doesn't?), you are gonna dig their pinup galleries!


MyRideIsMe targets specific lifestyles. This gives you the ability to browse or search by criteria such as Builder, Rat Rod, Hot Rodder, HAMB, Low Rider, Exotics, etc. It also helps MyRideisMe improve the relativity of advertising to the appropriate audience, which is just fine with me.

Straight Up

There are several things about this site that I found refreshing. The first thing was the straight talk on site advertising. Below is an excerpt from their "Advertise with us" page.

"At our mission is to be honest with our members and visitors. This site will use advertising to make money. If our members and visitors come to our site and let us make money, we'll only offer ads that might interest them. That's the deal we'd like to make."

As Craig, the owner of says, "We won't carry "Punch the Monkey and WIN" aminated ads. Those are just wrong!" (Although Skully loves to punch monkeys, he's down with the concept)

[You talkin bout me? - Skully]

Novice Friendly

The second thing I liked about the site was their unpretentious attitude toward customizing. It is refreshing to see how-to articles geared to beginners. The following quote from one of their blog entries demonstrates their attitude with this humorous line: "The first step in fixing a problem is admitting you have one. Hi, I'm Craig, I don't know crap about bodywork. (Hi Craig). With that out of the way, I moved onto the next step. That�s seeking help." You gotta love the attitude!

Although the site is relatively new it looks impressive and has the basics of a social community in place. And where they might lack in polish they make up for in passion (and pinups!). Building a kick ass web site, writing cool how-to articles, and building community is no small feat. It is hard work. But their enthusiasm and attitude are paying off. They already have close to 700 registered members and the throttle's still down. MOTORFOOT salutes you!

Now go check out the site!

>> - Cruise to the home page...

>> Falcon Build Update #3- The Roof - Or jump in with one of their "Overhaulin" style how-to articles.


>> On the Make - Our listing of social networks and make specific forums.

The Open Platform Car - Part 2

by motorfoot 5/23/2008 12:11:00 AM

Ford recently sponsored a design contest to reinvent the iconic Model T. But what is really needed is to reinvent the auto company.

In my first article titled "The Open Platform Car", I talked about my vision for a new car company.

The main points were:

1. Open up the design of the car. Only a select few designers ever get to see their designs get to production. How sad for them, and for us.

2. Style changes at a different rate than engineering. Therefore the rate of change in engineering should be decoupled from the rate of change in design.

3. Customers want more choices in visual design. Why have one version of the Camaro for six years?

Enter the unexpected... Local Motors.

I was quite surprised when I stumbled upon Local Motors while reading a car design blog. The vision of Local Motors is very similar to what I see in the future. The Local Motors Mission statement is:

"Lead the next generation of automotive manufacturing, design, and technology in order to revolutionize the industry with game-changing efficient vehicles and an unprecedented standard of customer service."

Whether this company is successful or not, it proves that change is here. The auto companies are too big to handle this kind of change because it is a completely different business model. I will definitely be following this company.

>> Detroit Free Press - Reinventing the Model T
>> - Local Motors Website

  Also on MOTORFOOT:

>> The Open Platform Car - Part 1


The Open Platform Car

by motorfoot 4/18/2008 1:05:00 AM

What if designers could come up with several styling versions of a car, and sell them all?

What if you could drop your two year old car off at the dealership styling center and have it "re-bodied" with a new design?

What if an auto company designed a platform car with fixed three dimensional body attachment points that were guaranteed not to change for ten years? The engineering underneath could change, but the fixed coordinates could not be altered.

With this fixed three dimensional contract, the aftermarket could invest in designing compelling niche body styles. The money they invest would pay off because the product would be valid for a long period. This would open up the visual aspect of auto style to match the pace of demand and give us more choices.

On a smaller level, Harley-Davidson has been doing this for decades, and because of this, has a huge after market for bolt on products because their basic platform design changes very slowly. Do auto companies see this?

There's room for a new auto company. An auto company that will free us from the tyranny of time to market. An auto company that embraces choice and style and engineers its platform to enable this aspect of car culture.

What do you think? 



>> The Open Platform Car - Part 2


2008 Car Night Season Unofficial Kickoff

by motorfoot 3/17/2008 1:11:00 PM

As the trees start budding and birds start building their nests, so too around the country the car fanatics begin to gather in greater numbers to celebrate the ritual of car congregation.

The 2008 Cruise Night season unofficially kicked off on the first almost warm Spring night in Austin Texas (actually Oak Hill).

As everyone knows, the MOTORFOOT World Headquarters is in Austin Texas, so we thought we would share the love with you by sharing a few car night photos.

Austin has two popular gatherings, one up North and one down South. The photos below are from the South Austin Saturday evening gathering.

Do you participate in a Car Night event in your city? Do you have pictures you would like to share? Let us know! 


T-Rex -- My Kind of Smart Car

by motorfoot 12/22/2007 4:56:00 AM

I think the motorcycle companies are missing an opportunity. As gas prices climb upward fuel effecient small cars become more appealing. But most of these new small cars look as they took a front bench seat and built a shell around it. I think there is a market for a motorcycle class three wheeler like the Canadian made T-Rex. The T-Rex is classified as a motorcycle and is propelled by a 1164cc Kawasaki engine. Car guys like looks and performance. The T-Rex provides both. Plus, you can save some fuel too. Problem is, the T-Rex is sold at a price point that not many can afford. The big auto makers will not make anything like the T-Rex. The small niche auto makers will not make anything like the T-Rex at a price point, say, around 20K.

That leaves one solution: the major motorcycle manufacturers such as Yamaha, Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki.

Let us know what you think. Email your thoughts to AutoFREQ at

Close, But No Cigar



Trirod Motorcycles


Volkswagen thought about it, built it, then changed their mind.
VW GX3 Scrapped -

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