Like many gearheads, going indoors can sometimes be painful. "But my car's outside!" we'll whine, hopping up and down and pointing at the door, as sleet and hail beats against the house. There's a few solutions here, but not all are ideal:
- Live outside, sleep under car (not great for hygiene or getting dates)
- Make a car-shaped access hole in your house by driving car into house (may cause some unwanted collapsing issues
- Do what this guy (John Lange) did.
You could, in theory, just get a junkyard car, cut off the front clip, and drag the whole thing in there. But even if you remove the engine, you'd be stuck with a lot of heavy suspension and frame hardware you just don't need. The better option is to use real body parts and build a simple yet functional frame.
Here's how it started for John, in his words:
I had this idea some years ago and started on it last month when a hood popped up locally. From there, I sourced the other parts and started putting it all together. Took a bit of fine-tuning here and there to get it all right, but I think I got her pretty close. I made the wiring harness using low wattage bulbs and a power converter lights it all up. (it seems a bit brighter in the pics, they are actually a nice mellow "bar" type brightness). The hood is factory painted, the fenders and bumper were purchased new and cut up. Instead of painting them, I vinyl wrapped them in gloss black which was my first time wrapping. Hope you enjoy the pics! All of my friends are dying to come over and see it, but honestly, I think they just want to drink all my beer!
It's always something chance that starts these things. A hood "pops up locally" and then an idea's in your head and before you know it you're making crazed drawings on your basement drywall.
John sourced new parts, which is expensive but does guarantee a level of quality. This example is finished to what appears to be a very high degree of quality, but the nice thing about this project is that it could be done on the cheap and still be reasonably effective.
The actual structural work, as you can see in the pictures, isn't rocket science, it's just lots of careful measuring and a bit of welding skill. That's not to belittle anything John did here, which, as I said, is incredibly well done, but I think this could be achieved by people with a variety of skill levels.
There's a couple options when it comes to the wheels. In John's case, it doesn't appear that they're load-bearing, as there is part of the metal box structure that rests on the floor to support everything. It should also be possible to use the wheels as at least partial supports. You'd want to mount them so they couldn't roll,I'd think. An easy way could be to weld on a flat piece of metal to the upper beams of your inner support structure, then drill holes that lined up with your wheel's mounting holes, and using bolts (ideally the same diameter as actual wheel bolts so you can use actual wheel nuts) to mount the wheel and tire directly to the frame.
The lighting makes a big difference, and there's a few ways to go. John used low-voltage lights and stepped the voltage down with a transformer. This works very well. If you're trying this on your own, I'd suggest repurposing a pre-made light fixture from Ikea or wherever's cheap that includes a step-down transformer and the brightness of light you want. Also, if you can't get wall power to where you're doing this (say, for your island cabana or whatever) you can just use automotive lighting equipment and an actual car battery. I've done this for installations before, and the lights last long enough to be useful.
A nice upgrade to something like this would be to engineer the support structure to allow for a hinge to open the hood, revealing, say, a fridge or glass storage or something inside. The principles are essentially the same, just make sure to account for hinge clearances and all that.
Now I'm looking at the old beat-up beetle hood and fenders in my yard, and calculating how much crap my wife can actually deal with before she finally kicks me out.
I better do some drawings.