Dec 13, 2011

Rat Rod Build Off No. 8 - Californication - A 1951 Western Flyer

First off thanks for the existence of this site, the mods and the opportunity for this build-off! Secondly, on to the story of this build! So, you all know about hot rod restorations, the ones where a rodder finds an old hot rod like a 1932 Ford in a barn circa 2013 and decides to restores it, but not to it's original style of 1932, but to the style the high school guys did in 1965! So the restoration needs to be period correct as it would have been driven and raced circa 1965 - Well that is what I was trying to do here, take a classic styled bike from the pre-hot rod era and do it up as if it was a streets of Los Angeles, Southern California dry lake racer built in 1965 or so! Candy metal flaked paint, cheater slicks and some chrome along with some low budget looks, that were cool, but all you could afford in high school.

Start with an over painted, but solid 1951 Western Flyer balloon tire bike and run with it. I decided to do a crazy multi-stage/layered paint job. Start with a heavy white primer, spray it with a metallic gold base coat, then lay on some gold metal flake, drop on some clear tangerine orange and cover it all up with a heavy clear. This took me about three weeks to accomplish in my back yard. Now, start buying/gathering parts..... Towards the end I realized the only parts that were original to the frame were the seat post clamp bolt and the bottom bracket bearings, somehow I managed to replace everything else and do it with a vintage BMX look.

Parts include:

Modern Chrome Forks, Super Wide Motorcycle Bars
Vintage BMX Tuf-Neck Stem, Sugino Chainwheel assembly & Tange Cranks
Leather Brooks B72 Seat and Leather Grips
Modern Wheels, Shimano Nexus 7 Speed rear-end and a Revo Shifter
And the infamous Jerald Sulky Square Tread Tires

This thing runs and looks great! Too much fun to build and source parts, but I'll tell you my wife almost kicked me out of the house before it was all over!

thecat - jon

PS: Here is a photo from Day 1, as found :wink:

Keep in mind, that is not the same paint I ended up with :lol:

You can follow the build at the hyperlink below.
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: mick5cents


I build stuff.
Jul 1, 2010
Roanoke Rapids, NC
Such a clean bike! I love the .gif you made, I scrolled down and saw the headers in the "tank" and scrolled back up, then back down quickly to have a closer look and they were gone! haha

Love it, love it!