For my Buick Project Plan I created an Excel workbook with 5 pages representing the 5 phases of a project build. The template has all the steps one needs to complete a successful Hot Rod project build. The key to this project template is that it should be used as a guideline, if any phase has 20 steps and you decide only to use 10 steps that's OK, because every person and every project will be different.
If you are more comfortable with some other project planning software by all means use it. If you are good with Excel, or any spreadsheet App, you can probably create your own project workbook in less than an hour.
Regarding Phase-1 of the project build. One of my Builders suggest that you start with the Chassis/Frame. If money is no object he suggests you consider a boxed frame which has everything except the motor and transmission. In the long run you'll be much happier. I will provide a list of companies that make complete boxed frames on the Project Resources pag.
If money is an issue and you have access to an experienced Builder the alternative is to modify an existing frame with a new front clip with independent suspension, disc brakes, Coil over springs and or air bag suspension. Another option is to replace an old frame with one from and late model vehicle. Do your research and find a late model donor car with the same wheelbase as your project car and just swap it out. That gives you a new technology frame that you can set you project car body on.
Wheels and tires should be one of the first things you get because this will allow you to determine the ride height and stance of your vehicle. The wheels and tires you put on the car may require drop spindles to get the right stance for the car. The last thing you want to do is purchase wheels near the end of the project and then find out it sits too high or too low.
With Phase-2 these project cars, in my opinion, the creature comforts of good brakes, power steering, air conditioning and heating are a must. If all you plan to do is trailer the car or just drive it in the neighborhood you may not want to spend the extra $$ for all the items. We built our Buick and the wagon to drive and enjoy. When it's real hot we can drive to SoCal with our windows up and be very comfortable. If we're driving locally in the bay area and its cold we have a great heater that keeps us comfortable. Last but not least there is nothing like a good set of disc brakes to help stop my big Buick.
Phase-3 is the fun phase and you need to determine what kind of car you want to end up with, is it going to be a hot rod muscle car doing burnouts on the weekend and sneezing every time you pass a gas station; or will it be a cruiser with enough pep to easily pass cars on the highway with ease.
When I started on my Buick, I thought "Big Car" means "Big Engine" and I was actually thinking of a 454 or 502 GM crate motor. Since we were planning to have a cruiser and take long trips I came to my senses and settled for a GM 350 ZZ4 Crate motor. We connected that engine to a GM 700-R4 transmission, which I purchased from a merchant at the Good guys swap meet. I found a guy down in Covina (SoCal) that built me a nice 9" Ford Posi-traction rear end and it all makes that Buick one fun car to drive
Phase-4 As I mentioned before body work and paint makes all the difference in a real nice hot rod. Some people can visualize color combinations in their head and others need to see something graphically. For me I knew what colors I wanted to paint my Buick but everyone told me my color selection was not good. I had to create a visual image of the paint colors (you can see the examples on the Buick project section) before everyone had an Ah Ha moment.
If you're building a Show car or something very nice I suggest you hire a Graphic Artist to create a concept drawing of what you want the car to look like with sample color combinations.
In Phase-5 you're almost home; if you're dealing with a pre-1960 model car, start with a good wiring harness one where all the wires are labeled every 4-5". If you don't get this right you will end up hating you hot rod. With my Buick I found some gauges from Classic Instruments that complimented the interior. With the Plymouth wagon we went with a set of gauges from Dakota Digital. Do your research, there are lots of companies out there with all kinds of gauges for any hot rod.
With the Buick my wife insisted we have a bench seat, for her wagon we're going with Bucket seats. Then you have to decide on leather or vinyl. I went with Ultra Leather which is a find grade of vinyl. Ultra Leather can cost almost as much as real leather but the difference is Ultra Leather is cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter than leather. Since we build our cars to drive and enjoy, I installed a Kenwood DNX 7100 GPS Navigation/Satellite system in the Buick, so when we get on the road we enter all the GPS coordinates, select the playlist on our iPhone and cruise down the highway in comfort.
Remember this project plan should be used as "guide line" you can add or delete steps to or from the plan.