Rodster® owners saying about the Rodster® Street
A Few Words With JIM DRUKER
Larchmont, New York
about Jim Druker's Rodster in Kit Car Magazine.
was built by Bob Venezia.
How did you hear about
Through Bob Venezia, whom
you already spoken with. I was actually looking around for another car.
I was looking at Chevy Corvairs, or Karmann Ghias, some other stuff.
Then Bob told me about seeing something in Kit Car magazine about
this guy in California who's making really high quality kits to go over
Chevy S10 Blazers. So he got me the literature and I looked at it and
we talked and then we started calling Henry and spoke to him a lot.
It sounded great. I gave him the green light and we went ahead with
What attracted you
to the Rodster?
The simplicity of it. Just,
you know, the Chevy S10 Blazer. That was one of the things I wanted
-- a car where there were engine problems, transmission problems or
whatever, I could just go to a dealer. I wouldn't have to wait for things
to come from foreign countries or other states or specialists and that
was good about it. The looks of it really attracted me. And the cost
of the project seemed really reasonable.
shot of the Rodster in the paint shop as it turns into a beautiful candy-apple
I hear you're known
for you exotic cars.
Yeah, I like different kinds
of cars. Bob made a beach buggy for us out of a Suzuki Swift. I've gotten
a SAAB souped up and custom bodied and everything. I like driving. I
like cars. The Rodster would be something I could drive around every
day. Not something to just take out for a drive on Sundays for an hour.
Do you drive it every
Bob Venezia's having a convertible
top put on it now, but I was using it to commute every day and enjoying
it. Next year, we're going to take it down to Florida and probably keep
it at our Florida house.
It seems like a good
Florida cruising type of car, California kind of car.
Yep. As a matter of fact,
that's what we're looking for because our beach buggy doesn't have air
conditioning and has a top that is very, very difficult to put on. So
the Rodster also fit those requirements of air conditioning and a top
that's easy to handle.
What are the reactions
when you're driving it on your commute every day?
I was just telling my son
about it. Every time I stop at a light, you see out of the corner of
your eye people rolling down their windows, you know, yelling. They
want to ask you what it is and tell you it's beautiful. Truck drivers
hit the air horns and wave. You go by schools and the kids all start
yelling, "Cool car! Wow!" And even driving on the road, people
will pull up next to you and honk, roll down the window and ask you
about it. People love it. Absolutely just love it.
That must be fun for
It is, but sometimes you
just want to listen to the radio or something. I pull up at a light
and I've gotten to the point where I try to avoid making eye contact
with people. I just don't want to answer the questions. A few weeks
ago, we had it. My wife was going into a store and I was sitting
in the car waiting for her. People kept coming over and asking about
it. I finally got out of the Rodster and just walked down to the corner
so I wouldn't have to answer any more questions. Whenever I come out
of a place, there's a crowd around it and again, you've got to answer
questions. It's funny, I said to my wife, "This must be how movie
stars get after a while, where you just kind of want to be left alone
and people just keep hammering at you, "Oh, it's beautiful. It's...
wow!" You really do. It's nice to have people appreciate it, but
they're all over you.
How does your family
They love it. My kid when
he first saw it said, "This is the coolest car in the world."
They all love it.
In a traditional
touch, cool side pipes were added.
I hear you're a real
driver. Bob Venezia was telling me you like to go fast. How does the
It handles better than I
thought. It handles better than a Blazer would. I don't have any problem
with it on cornering, but I'm not going to drive it the way I would
drive a SAAB or a BMW or a Porsche. I like driving it. It's quick; very
quick 0 to 50, or 0 to 60. But I don't run it hard. That particular
car seems to be happiest between 60 and 70 miles an hour. It's running
2200 to 2500 rpms and it's just purring. I like driving it on the road
with the top off and some music blaring and feeling the breeze.
Where do you commute
I commute to Long Island,
New York from Westchester every day. It's a 26 mile commute and I do
it mostly 60 miles an hour. It's almost all highway driving.
How was it dealing
with Henry and Caroselli Design?
Henry was a pleasure. I know
Bob did most of the dealings with him, although I spoke to him from
time to time. Whenever you needed something, he came through. I think
Bob actually gave him some design improvement tips that Henry was very
appreciative of. I had absolutely no complaints and I know Bob didn't
You had no interest
in putting the car together yourself?
No, that's not my forté.
Although Bob wants to do one with me sometime in the future. He spent
a good year working on this. A big part of it was the standard Rodster
package is a two-seater and we wanted a four-seater. It took Bob a long
time to figure out how to do it, work it out. And now we have a four-seater
Rodster that doesn't give away anything in the looks department.
And you wanted to put
in a manual transmission as well?
That was a must. I don't
like driving automatic transmissions.
That's the mark of
a real driver, somebody who prefers manual.
Uh huh. I want to have control
over the car and I enjoy shifting. In traffic, I don't mind it.
a couple of views of the special custom upholstered rear seat (out of
What kind of cars have
I had a turbo Porsche for
awhile. I've had five SAABS, all turbos. We've got that beach buggy
that I told you about. A 5-Series BMW. And that's pretty much it. When
the Rodster goes to Florida, I'm probably going to get an M3 convertible
to use on my commute up here.
Those are serious cars.
How much do you have invested in the Rodster now?
Probably about $20,000 -
$25,000 including the purchase of the donor car and everything else
that was done.
How about the Rodster's
bang for the buck?
When people ask me what it
runs, they're shocked. I've had a couple of inquiries about it. I've
given people Bob's phone number and I gave one friend of mine, who's
seriously considering it, a brochure. To me, for what you're getting,
just in terms of the enjoyment and the uniqueness of the car and everything,
it's tons of bang for the buck.
Would you recommend
the Rodster to other people?
What do you think is
the best thing about it?
The looks. And I think it's
just a kick driving it, every time I get into it. In a way, it's going
back in time a little bit, just because of the looks of it. I get out
of my car when I get to my office and I'll just stand and look at it
sometimes. It's just so great looking. He did an unbelievable job on
the paint, too. The color is part of it. It's just beautiful. It's Cherry
Red with gold underneath it that kind of changes a little bit. It's
not wild looking, but it changes a little bit in the light. But that's
it. Bob had a '61 Corvette that he loaned me a few years ago for a month
and it's the same feeling. Every time I'd get into that car, it was
such a pleasure and so much fun to drive it -- I get the same kick with
Anything else you want
to say about it?
If anybody thinking about
it getting one gives me a call, I'd be glad to talk to them. As you
can probably tell, I'm just in love with it.
custom touch is the special upholstered trunk.