10 The Hard Way: A New Project-Car Series Begins

It has been several months in the planning and our newest project car is officially under construction. I am going to do my best to show some of the small details involved in starting from scratch with a non-drivable car and turning it into a 10-second bracket racer for as close to $10,000 as I can. Thus, the name of the project car: 10 The Hard Way.

There are a few considerations on cost that I will take a minute to explain so I don’t have to go over it later. Most of the parts going into this car are going to be new parts. The primary reason is we have a schedule to keep. A lot of the parts I am going to use on the 10 The Hard Way project car could be found used on Racing Junk, Craigslist (that is actually where I found the Firebird) or eBay. Local swap meets are another great source of parts, but I simply don’t have the time to do that or the desire to spend that much time looking for parts. At the ripe old age of 60, I want to be racing the 10 The Hard Way by July. I actually think you could come close to duplicating this car for about $7,000 if you do a lot of shopping for components.

In this tech series I am very blessed to have some great marketing partners that have decided to join us on the project. You will be able to see us install their parts, tell you how they fit and why we chose them. Remember, we want the 10 The Hard Way project to be something you can duplicate in your own driveway. The only welding or fabricating we are planning is the roll bar installation and some mounts for the fuel cell and rear battery mounts. Other than that, we want this to be a bolt-together car that any of you gear-heads out there could easily duplicate.

Selecting a car

Probably the most important choice is the first choice you have to make as it is a decision you have to live with for quite a while. I had decided I wanted either an ’82-’92 Camaro/Firebird or a ’93-’02 Camaro/Firebird. The reason behind that is simple. Look at a JEGS or Summit catalog; they make tons of parts for these cars and selections are great and prices are far less than trying to build the components myself.

Car just pushed into the shop. Looks HOT with that hood scoop and funky little 14” wheels, huh? OK, maybe not. It will look better real soon.

I started my search for a “roller” by calling local salvage yards. I gave them the range of years and models of car I was looking for. After a couple weeks all I had found was parts and pieces. Anything that was semi-rolling had so much rust on the floor and cowl area it was worthless for our planned use. Then I hit the Craigslist and eBay websites. I looked at about 40 different cars in the model and year range I wanted, ranging from bare bodies to complete drivable cars. The prices ranged from $500 (junk) to $5,000 for a pretty nice looking ’91 Camaro.

Then I noticed an ’84 Firebird listed as a drag car project. It was only 70 miles from my home, so I called. It was fairly complete (in the loosest possible sense of the word), and had a 350 Chevy and Turbo 400 hanging in the front. When I say “hanging” I'm not kidding. It had a 350 Chevy from a motor home and the turbo 400 sitting on front motor mounts but a chain was holding up the rear of the transmission as the cross-member would not fit. The glass was good, the body looked rock solid and it had a HOOD SCOOP! How could I go wrong, right? After some intense negotiations in -10 degree wind chill weather (about three minutes worth), I had purchased the car for $1,000. (Yeah, it was going to take some work to get it where I wanted it but the body looked rust-free and in Iowa that is very hard to find.)