Old rides come in all shapes and sizes from stock to wild enough to question the sanity of the builder.


The question for most car guys is what is a good fit for them?


Think of this question in terms of Goldilocks when she broke into a house and helped herself to the best food/lodging fit while ignoring the obvious dangers of bears.


The biggest issue on the table for car guys is what combination of comfort and style will suit their needs. Sometimes style will trample comfort and sometimes comfort will blow up style when it comes to choices.


The choices are personal for each car owner. The first question is whether the owner wants to drive the car after the build process so owners need to figure out whether their finished project is built for the road, show, or a balance between road and show.




For instance, how much roof chop can you put on a custom ride before the view through the windshield looks like the view from inside a slightly cracked coffin lid? There is a fine line between cool chops and somebody take that metal cutter away from that lunatic.




The size of the owner also plays a big role in the chop. If a 5-year-old kid is hunched over when he gets in an excessively chopped ride, then his 6 foot 3 father may have an even bigger challenge when he tries to squeeze in behind the steering wheel.




A custom chop gone too far will lead to a finished project that can’t be driven very far by its overzealous owner. Unless they learn how to drive scrunched over with a 90 degree tilt to their head.




What about a pavement-scraper? The slammed look has been a fundamental part of the custom ride movement for decades because it is a cool part of the custom hobby. The low riders will continue to be an important part of the hobby and are responsible for some of the most amazing custom rides ever built, but are they right for every owner?




A more flexible air ride system will eliminate some of the issues such as roads that are more pothole than pavement, along with tough climb-outs for passengers, but a car guy who plans to drive his slammed custom ride will have to consider these factors.


He or she needs to ask whether their custom ride is actually built for an aging road system and body. Can they drive these cars on a long trip and arrive at their destination with an intact exhaust system, and without an urgent need for a chiropractor from a custom ride exit gone wrong?




The polar opposite of a slam job is a jacked-up ride, usually built from a 4×4 pickup truck. These high riders have a built-in application to tackle every mud bog challenge available to owners who also enjoy long walks in the wilderness when things go wrong.




They are easy to spot in traffic because they ride right up next to the cumulus clouds on the road. The big question is how high is too high for these rides? There is a point where these top-heavy rides become a big adventure in turns when they provide plenty of on-road adventures for their owners.




The jacked-up rides also require a good memory and awareness because passengers want to be cognizant of that first step when they exit these four-wheeled giraffes.




There are many decisions to be made along the way to a great build.


The biggest question is whether the finished project is really right for you and Goldilocks. 


Jim Sutherland


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