man re-creates two popular automobiles.
Times-News Staff Writer
a "Rodster," a play on words that combines "roadster"
with "rod" to create the description of a "Classic
Replicars is a hobby turned business and the Rodster, created from
a Chevrolet S-10 Blazer or S-10 pickup truck, is one of two models
Cumberland native Jim Crabtree re-creates. The other is a Shelby
Cobra which uses a Mustang engine, transmission and rear end.
was selling new homes in the Martinsburg, W.Va., area when he built
his first classic replicar, a 1965 Shelby Cobra.
was a stress reliever," he said of his first and subsequent
a kid I built dune buggies," he said, noting that tinkering
with the cars helped him relax.
his first Cobra for himself but then sold it when someone offered
a price he couldn't turn down. "I did it for fun," he
I built another one and sold it on the Internet to a man in Massachusetts,"
Crabtree said, adding that it's still fun.
traveled into the Martinsburg area on business and when he saw the
car advertised on the Internet he decided to stop in and take a
look, Crabtree explained.
rode a bus down to take delivery," he said.
a couple more sales, Crabtree said he decided he could make a living
out of his hobby. He gave up his real estate business and returned
to Cumberland where he has opened a shop in the rear of an auto
parts store on Henderson Avenue.
recent customers, a couple from Austin, Texas, took delivery of
their Rodster Wednesday, flying in to drive the car back.
the things that makes the cars special is the finish. In the Rodster
that went to Texas the paint finish is "Tangelo," a pearlized
finish that appears orange, gold or yellow, depending on the viewer's
perspective while looking at it.
is the only part of the process Crabtree does not do himself. That
is left to Eric Broadwater of Stringtown, Pa.
Rodster in the shop is finished with Dupont Chrome Illusion, a paint
made by Dupont with prismatic chips as opposed to metallic chips,
Crabtree explained. The result is a spectrum of color change from
lilac and lavender to blue and gold as one walks around the vehicle.
also features a removable hardtop. "The Rodster idea came from
a man from California, Henry Caroselli," he said.
that Caroselli was a design engineer who had worked at Disney Studios
for a while and helped with the release of the Mazda Miata when
it came out.
said the S-10s are proven models and by using them as the basis
for the Rodster, there is more reliability. "It's kind of like
a rod without all the spaghetti wiring," he added, noting that
the S-10 wiring harness is one of the assets of using it as a base.
"You just clip and reconnect," he said of the wiring.
Howell was one of the first people Crabtree met when he returned
to Cumberland and it was he who introduced Crabtree to a lot of
the local street rodders.
followed me down Route 40 to the shop when I was cleaning it out
and that's how we met," Crabtree said.
is restoring a 1938 Ford Coupe.
another local auto enthusiast and traditional restorer, said he
really likes the results Crabtree gets with his recreations. He
said he doesn't really like "kit cars or glass reproductions"
but changed his mind after seeing the Rodster and Cobra.
looking for a Willys station wagon to restore, said Crabtree.
said he uses the S-10 models from 1983 through 1994 for the Rodster
and Mustang models from 1987 through 1993 for the Cobras.
his first Cobra four years ago and to date has completed 13 of the
cars. He has completed four Rodsters in the last 14 months.
transformation includes removing the front of the Blazer or truck,
shortening the frame and cutting off the top.
an easy cut from the back bumper," he said of the shortening
result is a 10-inch shorter vehicle but the wheelbase remains the
off the glass and metal the vehicle is also reduced in weight by
about 800 pounds, thus making it more efficient to operate, Crabtree
is three inches lower when completed with new shocks and coils for
a softer ride. The vehicle is then refashioned with Fiberglas panels.
he usually keeps two finished cars and two cars in process on hand.
said his profit margin is about 15 percent on the reconstructions
which take about six weeks.
he also likes for his clients to provide their own S-10s because
then the customer knows the car is "mechanically healthy."
don't change how it works only the cosmetic makeup... then I charge
a fee for the panels," he said.
the base also can prove to be a cost saving as well. The couple
who just returned to Texas with their Rodster saved $1,000.
of a recreated Rodster is $18,000. The Cobra is $20,000 but Crabtree
said he believes it's time for an increase in the cost of the Cobra.
can be reached at his shop on Henderson Avenue at (301) 722-0740.
More information about the Rodster can be found at www.rodster.com
on the Internet.
can be seen at the next Cruise-In at Wal-Mart in Bedford Plaza on
May 6 and on May 7 at the Church of God in Cumberland.