You're not a professional
mechanic -- what do you do for a living?
I do computer networking.
I do consulting and training and computer networks.
So despite not being
mechanical, it was easy to put together the Rodster?
Oh, I'm mechanical. I've
just never done it professionally. This is my second kit car. I built
one other before this. So I have some mechanical inclination.
My dad's a mechanic. I've
never had any real training in cars, but I've worked on a lot of cars
here and there.
So the kit was easy
to put together?
It was really straight forward,
Would you consider
yourself a car nut?
Yeah, I would consider myself
a hobbyist. I built one kit car, it was a '29 Mercedes. Before that,
it was just kind of fixing up my own cars, trying to save money here
How many hours have
you spent on your Rodster?
I think it took me about
200 hours to get it on the road originally, and I would think 50 of
that would be in addition to what a normal person would spend because
I re-engineered this whole kit to fit on a 4 by 4. I had to make quite
a few changes to it so when I talked to Henry about it, he said 200
hours is on high end, but I had to spend extra time doing other things
that most people wouldn't have to do.
Have you taken the
Yeah. Nothing serious, but
I've taken it on the beach and sand dunes, more recreational, but nothing
You also have a tow
hitch on it. What do you tow?
I tow whatever I need to.
It tows up to 3500 lbs. That's what the S10 Blazer is rated for. Mostly,
I tow a utility trailer whenever I run into town to get lumber, whatever.
I don't have any boats or other toys that I tow. I wouldn't hesitate
to tow anything. A boat, 4-wheeler, jet ski, another car, whatever.
Actually, I did tow my other kit car before I sold it. I had a tow bar
on my other kit car and towed it to a couple of car shows, where I could
drive one car and have two cars there. That's when my other car was
for sale and I just towed it up to a car show.
do a lot of car shows?
When I can. I only do 4 or
5 a year.
You came all the way
from Oregon to Southern California for one...
Yeah, I drove to Knotts Berry
Farm this past year.
Was the car comfortable?
Oh, yeah. I have the hard
top and I have air conditioning. And I have a nice stereo in there.
It's just like driving any other car when I have the hard top on. I
cruise at 75 miles per hour. I have cruise control and all that, so
Do you drive it every
Yeah. I don't anymore so
much. I actually bought a little beater car that I drive into town.
I guess it has suffered a little bit of paint chips and nicks and whatever.
I drove it about 10,000 miles last year. Now I drive my other car except
on warmer, sunnier days. Today, actually, I drove the Rodster -- I'm
out working on some computer stuff. I drove it out today because it's
a nice day.
What are the reactions
I can't take it out without
people yelling at me driving as Im down the road. I don't even
have to stop and they come up beside me in the other lane and yell,
"What is that thing?" I get a lot of reaction from it. My
license plate says S10 KIT on it -- I did that because I wanted people
to know what it was without having to really stop me. But I always carry
around a bunch of flyers, the little trading cards. Henry sent me a
bunch of those and if people stop me at the gas station, I just hand
This car, people have mixed
reactions. Some people really love it, some people think its kind
of strange. But everybody wants to know what it is. Theres no
way that you can really explain it to them out the window. It takes
at least a few sentences to tell them what it is.
So you've been recommending
Yeah, to everybody who wants
to know. Ive been talking to everybody I know about it.
Would you say that
somebody who has no experience working on a car, but maybe has the desire,
could put it together?
Yeah. I think there are a
few tricky spots that youre going to have trouble with if youre
a complete novice. But, definitely, its designed for an amateur
to do. You dont have to pull out an engine or anything like that.
Anybody with any kind of inclination, anybody with a desire, I think,
can do it.
How does it compare
to your other kit that you built?
My other kit was a 29
Mercedes and the Rodster is just much more practical. I couldnt
use the Mercedes as a daily driver. It didnt have a hard top.
It didnt have the convenience -- even getting in and out of that
car was difficult. You had to slide in, wedge yourself under the steering
wheel. So it just wasnt practical. It was fun, a lot of fun. It
was more of a Sunday driver kind of car. You couldnt take it out
all the time.
How about as far as building it?
The Mercedes was definitely
more difficult. I guess with the Rodster, everything was really well
thought out on how it was going to be done. It made it as easy as possible.
The other wasn't well
The other didnt start
out with a single donor type platform. Whereas with the Mercedes, you
had to install the engine, install the brake lines, install the fuel
lines, install all the mechanical stuff, too. The Rodster is just an
S10 and all that stuff is just left there the way it was. Thats
what really made it easier.
How many miles did
you have on the donor when you bought it?
160,000 something. It had
a bad transmission when I bought it, and I replaced that.
What year was it?
Did somebody help you
build your Rodster?
You did the paint and
I had somebody else paint
it, but I did all the prep work for my paint. So, I actually had him
just shoot it. He just masked it and shot it for me. But I didnt
even have anybody to help me lift the body parts on and off. I just
kind of manhandled the whole thing. For the top, I need somebody else
to help me put it on and off. But that whole rear end section when I
was test fitting it, I did it by myself.
How about the quality of the kit compared with your other kit?
The quality of the hand laid fiberglass parts...
I found it very good. There
was hardly any body preparation necessary, just a light sanding. All
the pieces fit. On my other kit, I had pieces that didnt fit right,
like the trunk lid didnt fit right on my other kit. On this one,
theres just a little bit of grinding on the inside of some of
it. The surface of the fiberglass -- just sand it lightly, prime it,
and youre ready to go.
Did you buy the manual
before the kit?
How was the manual?
It was good. Everything was
in there that I needed to know.
So it was clear?
How was dealing with
Caroselli Design? Was Henry available for questions?
He answered every question.
I could call him any time and if he wasnt there, hed call
me back and answered every question pretty clearly. Hed tell me
how he did it. So he was really good to work with. He always got back
Did you get the kit
I actually picked it up myself.
I drove down to Knotts Berry Farm with a trailer a year prior.
I showed up at the shop in El Segundo and we loaded it up on the trailer.
Then I also went to the Knotts Berry Farm Show that weekend and
drove home to Oregon after that. Henry had everything ready to go.
Do you think the Rodster
offers a good overall value?
I think so. When you compare
it to other kits, its a great value. I dont know, the kit
industry is pretty difficult as a whole, because when youre done,
you really just have an S10 Blazer, which isnt worth a whole lot
of money, right? Then you put $6,000 to $8,000 to $10,000 into this
thing and you have something that nobody else has. Its really
hard to say what the finished product is worth. So really, the value
in the kit industry, I think, is excellent, but then theres the
inherent unknown problem with kits in general. You have to build it
because you want it. Not for any other reason. You build it because
this is what you want.
Your car is for sale.
Have you got any takers?
Ive got one guy who
has been teasing me, but he cant come up with the money. I had
it advertised on the Internet for a little bit and I had a lot of response,
but nobody came up with the money. Thats the biggest problem.
A lot of people like it. I found that most of the people interested
in it are younger guys in their 20s. From 18 on up to 30 or so,
and they dont have a lot of cash, they dont have a lot of
credit. They really like the car, but they cant afford to buy
What would you say
is the best thing about the Rodster?
The main thing is the fact
that you get a unique vehicle that you can drive every day. Its
immensely practical, not just a show car. You dont have a car
that has to sit in the garage most of the time. You can use it as your
primary car. That kind of helps offset the expense of it because you
only need one car and if this car can take you everywhere. You might
as well drive it.
more about Kraig Short's 4x4 Rodster®.
check out Kraig's own website.