Would you believe that this project all started because the seat was broken? I had bought the mower from a friend's mom and it sat in the carport for a year before I decided to fix it. The only thing wrong with it, come to find out, was the belts needed to be changed. I mowed a time or two then realized that the seat just wasn't going to cut it. (No pun intended) Enter "TOOL TIME" inspiration on riding lawn mowers. I'm sure we've all seen that episode where Tim customized his mower.
Now I was thinking a car seat would be a lot more comfortable but to my dismay it was to big so it was back to the drawing board. So the longer it sat the more I studied the shape of the mower. The sleek lines, the dire need for help it was saying to me. Now, the year before I had made a Dale Earnhardt push mower complete with Goodwrench decals and the #3. At first it was going to be a #3 mower to go with the push mower but it was like ''Well I've got one, I want something different." Then it came to me. What is my favorite car? The SUPERBIRD!!!!!!!!!!!! The shape was perfect and so it came to life.
Now, first I washed it and took pictures of it as it started life. Let the project begin. I completely disassembled it down to the frame. Wire-wheeled it big time, then painted it, and put it back together so I could roll it around. Now along the way another friend had a go-cart that wasn't doing anything and he just wanted it gone. It had my mags, a racing steering wheel, and a seat frame. COOOOOLLLLL. I also needed some sheet metal for the nose and wing, so while out riding around I found an old furnace out by the road. I know, it sounds bad but hey, we're talking low budget project here and it had the metal I needed. By this time the carport looked extremely messy and the wife is ready to KILL the husband. I gutted the furnace and cut out the good metal. I first used cardboard for my templates making the cardboard the same size as the metal so I knew what I had to work with. First the nose was hand shaped tracing the template to the sheet metal then using a pair of snips to cut it. No power tools except a drill was used. The nose is 3 pieces all pop riveted together then bolted to the frame. All of which fitted together like I knew what I was doing. No prior experience with metal working. Now the wing was another story. The metal was too flimsy so now it was a step backwards. So I thought for a while then it hit. The body panel which surrounds the engine and with its angle would work perfect but at this point there would be no turning back if I decided to scrap the idea and put it back to original condition. What the hell. The wing is also 3 pieces and pop riveted together then bolted to the frame. The gas tank is mounted under the seat so I couldn't just bolt the seat to that frame. I needed to give it a little height in order to fill it when the time came. An old hacksaw I had with chrome tubing would be the ticket. Four pieces would make the 2" lift kit complete. Now at this point the mower was looking awesome put back together. Now time for the paint job. When I had painted the underside, I used regular spray paint in the can and it was rather expensive. Hey, my friend works at a paint and body shop. He is none other than Dave Beede who now manages Econo Auto Painting. He thought I was crazy and by now so did my wife but my dream will come true. I decided on Plum Crazy with metal flake. We pulled it into the paint booth, taped it up and shot it. The mags were also painted to match. Now we're talking. Grunt Grunt. Remember the car seat? I had found one of them by the road too. Now being it was too big, I decided to use the foam and cut it to custom fit in the go-cart seat frame. This took some time. My wife by now was starting to think that maybe this mower is pretty cool. She picked out the vinyl material and I covered the seat using snaps. Now the front mags fit perfectly, no problem finding tires as someone else had given me some that they had had. He raced go-carts for awhile and had two to donate to the project. I tried to find tires that were big enough for the back but with the same diameter as the mag. No such critter exists with a 4" inside. Here we go again. I had already tried to pull the rear wheels off and had to drill holes for the pulley puller. No luck. I ended up getting the same size tires and mounting them. The holes that were drilled in the one hub looked pretty cool, so I drilled the other side to match. When we painted the mower the original hubs weren't painted because they weren't going to be used. I used chrome and regular purple paint which matched sort of but close enough. It's only a mower. Once I had finally got it back together minus the mower deck, it was time to fire this baby up for a test drive. Fired it up, put it in gear, nothing. I ended up having to pull the rear end back out and getting the spider gears welded to the axles. Now we have a posi-trac rear end. Grunt Grunt Grunt. Let's try this again. Fire it up, put it in gear and away we go. Hell Yeah!!!!!! After 7 long months of hard, aggravating work, it all paid off. Now for the details. I had the headlight decals made at a decal shop from a picture in a magazine. I wanted the Road Runner made too but due to it's size I needed, it couldn't be done. Well now what? Tried to get original birds but they were kind of high and I wanted them yesterday, not in a few weeks. While at the flea market there was a guy that I had worked with sometime ago that was air brushing. I asked if he could paint my bird and showed him the picture. We loaded up the mower and away we went. While he was doing it, being from Tennessee and the Vols being National Champs, I had him put an Orange T on the helmet to give it a little style. GO VOLS! To complete the mower, real cars have carpet. So again carpet was found (dumpster this time at a carpet store) and installed with metal trim to finish it right. Put the mower deck back on and got to mow with it 2 times before it was time to put it up for the winter. This project went from April to September and it is all worth it BIG TIME!!!!!!!!
As for all my time and money spent, I have a total of over 413.5 hours, give a few I'm sure for being too tired to write it down and roughly $500.00 including the $50.00 I paid for the mower itself . This thing has had a complete overhaul from the ground up. It looks faster than it actually goes but then again, I'm in it for style and comfort not speed, and the looks I get from cars passing by. " It's Awesome Big Time!!!".
I want to thank all my friends for their help and donations on this project and my loving wife who put up with not having a carport to park in during this time and my crazy idea for the mower of which I didn't tell her what the transformation was going to be till I was ready. To Tim "The Tool Man" for my creative power to come out, Grunt Grunt Grunt Grunt!!!! Would also like to thank MTD lawn mowers for building this mower and giving me the shape to work with, although I don't know how old it is. But most of all the Mopar engineers for having the most awesome car ever built. I may not have a real one, but this is as close as it gets!!
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