The most important thing you need to do is to put a plan together to manage your project. When I built my 1954 Buick Special I used an Excel Spreadsheet but you can use any project planning tool but it’s most important that you document your plan. Even with my spreadsheet I managed to get side tracked with changes that caused my project costs to increase.
Depending on your mechanical skills, available time and funds, a hot rod project can be done in as little as 6-12 months or up to 3-4-5 years or longer. If you’re really into cars you’ve probably seen some of the shows on the Velocity Channel TV e.g., Dave Kindig's Bitchin Rides, OverHaulin, Unique Whips, West Coast Customs or American Hot Rod where they build a car in as little as 7 days up to 2 or 3 weeks. If you have a team of 15 or 20 people and a lot of cash to burn anything is possible. For the average Joe or Jane what you see on TV is not realistic because the cost would be too much.
I broke my project down to 5 phases starting from the bottom going up and out.
This plan and the sequence of events worked for me but I have talked to others where they start with the body first. Leaving the body and paint to the 3rd or 4th phase can be risky if you’re not really sure about the condition of the body. If the body is full of bondo or plastic fillers and or has a lot of rust areas it could cost you a significant amount just to get the body in good shape to accept your new paint job.
Now if you would like to see an example of the template I used for my Buick and Plymouth projects go to the Projects -> Project Plan Template section.