Fiberglass versus steel bodies. A few decades ago, this wouldn’t have been an issue among street rodders. Original steel bodies were easier to find, and reproduction bodies were still a novelty.
Times have changed. To drive an original sheetmetal car is no longer the norm, but a rare distinction. Repro ‘glass bodies have improved in quality and are accepted as valid street rodding material. But there is still something that makes a steel body, even a reproduction, a bragging point in our hobby. We asked some prominent body manufacturers and rod builders about the pros and cons of ‘glass and steel. As we expected, we got a variety of opinions. Manufacturers promote the advantages of their own products but back up their ideas with valid reasoning. How you choose is a matter of which reasoning best suits your taste and your budget.
One of the biggest things going for steel bodies is the brag factor. There is some measure of pride in being able to say that your rod is the original steel body. Even repro steel bodies are sometimes perceived as somehow being more genuine because, like the originals, they are steel.
The fiberglass body industry has had a bad rep to overcome. Fiberglass repros were once regarded as low-quality knock-offs or as cheesy kit cars. Unfortunately, some still may be, but for the most part, bodies from the leading manufacturers are first-class products and offer a good alternative to original or repro steel.
In many cases, today’s high-quality fiberglass bodies are better than originals, due to the ability of modern manufacturers to correct potential original engineering flaws. Also, the quality of many bodies makes them virtually indistinguishable from steel cars. Shop carefully and ‘glass can be a smart way of achieving your goal of driving a street rod.