The Smyth Performance Ute Kit Is so Simple, Even a Child Can Help Build It

This has become a true family project.

Justin Hughes

Most kids play with Legos or Erector sets to create cars, spaceships, or whatever else their imaginations come up with. But as we enter the construction phase of our Smyth Performance Ute kit, we're finding that the young ones in the household have been able to transfer their building skills full scale as they take a more-active-than-expected part in the project.

After making the rough cut and removing the top rear quarter of the body, the next step was to attach the aluminum braces to the back of the B-pillars where the back doors used to be. This is a major structural component of the Ute, providing rigidity for the back half of the car now that the roof structure is gone. Like the other aluminum components, it is cut to shape on an automated plasma cutter to fit perfectly into the opening, complete with starter holes every few inches to mark where to rivet it to the B-pillar. After fitting it into the proper position, it's a simple matter of drilling many holes and inserting many rivets.

At this point my stepson came to the garage, bringing me a beer without me asking. Of course, it would be rude to refuse, so I was forced to accept and consume his gift. He asked what I was doing, so I showed him how I was drilling the holes as marked, putting in rivets, and then locking them into place using the tool my friend loaned me from his shop. He wanted to try it, so I let him squeeze the riveter a few times. He quickly got the hang of it, and the next thing I knew he was drilling and riveting the rest of the brace into position by himself while I sat back, drank beer, and supervised. I've never aspired to have children of my own, but I'm beginning to see the benefits of having them around for free labor, not to mention beer delivery.

I'm still handling the more critical parts of the build myself to make sure it's structurally sound. But I'm going to have to rethink my plan to give him the opportunity for more hands-on kit car building experience. With more and more schools reducing or eliminating shop classes, this kind of education is becoming more difficult to come by.