Jeff Rankin
Camarillo, California

Bob Condie
Milpitas, California

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What are Rodster® owners saying about the Rodster® Street Rod?

A few words with Kraig Short

Hillsboro, Oregon

Winning a trophy at Knott's Berry Farm.
Kraig Short, his trophy-winning 4x4 Rodster®, and Henry Caroselli, at the Knott's Berry Farm Car show.

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, yeah.

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 and there.

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.

The world's first 4x4 Rodster!

Have you taken the car off-roading?

Yeah. Nothing serious, but I've taken it on the beach and sand dunes, more recreational, but nothing heavy duty.

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.

You 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 it's nice.

Do you drive it every day?

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 you get?

I can't take it out without people yelling at me driving as I’m 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 them out.

This car, people have mixed reactions. Some people really love it, some people think it’s kind of strange. But everybody wants to know what it is. There’s 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 the Rodster?

Yeah, to everybody who wants to know. I’ve 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 you’re going to have trouble with if you’re a complete novice. But, definitely, it’s designed for an amateur to do. You don’t 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 couldn’t use the Mercedes as a daily driver. It didn’t have a hard top. It didn’t 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 wasn’t practical. It was fun, a lot of fun. It was more of a Sunday driver kind of car. You couldn’t 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 thought out?

The other didn’t 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. That’s 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?

Not really.

You did the paint and everything?

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 didn’t 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.

That's impressive.  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 didn’t fit right, like the trunk lid didn’t fit right on my other kit. On this one, there’s 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 you’re 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 wasn’t there, he’d call me back and answered every question pretty clearly. He’d tell me how he did it. So he was really good to work with. He always got back to me.

Did you get the kit on time?

I actually picked it up myself. I drove down to Knott’s 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 Knott’s 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, it’s a great value. I don’t know, the kit industry is pretty difficult as a whole, because when you’re done, you really just have an S10 Blazer, which isn’t 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. It’s really hard to say what the finished product is worth. So really, the value in the kit industry, I think, is excellent, but then there’s 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?

I’ve got one guy who has been teasing me, but he can’t 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. That’s the biggest problem. A lot of people like it. I found that most of the people interested in it are younger guys in their 20’s. From 18 on up to 30 or so, and they don’t have a lot of cash, they don’t have a lot of credit. They really like the car, but they can’t afford to buy it.

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. It’s immensely practical, not just a show car. You don’t 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.

Read more about Kraig Short's 4x4 Rodster®.

Or, check out Kraig's own website.