Step One: The Homework
Planning, planning, planning. Cool cars don't happen by accident, so you really need to have a good idea what you want before you start doing a lot of work. Buying a header here, a widget there, this trick gadget, that trick gadget, will end you up with a stupid, unsatisfying project. Anyone with a job can buy parts and stick 'em on- the true art is knowing what parts will serve your purpose. Thus, the homework.  
  First, know your car. Know how it's put together, where components lie in relation to one another, what it weighs, ride height, spring rates, every factoid you can have on hand will help you. Get the most comprehensive, most specific service manuals you can afford. Factory manuals are usually best but very pricey. Also, a hard copy of the dealer parts-diagrams for your car will be invaluable (dealers usually have them on microfiche or CD-ROM but actual books are available). They usually have the best diagrams, so when a fabricator or parts salesman asks you a question, you can get the answer without taking your car apart (or even going outside to look at it).
I have a Haynes manual for the Bomber. It only covers a few models, so the info is fairly specific to my car. There's also a great 'basics' section in the front, which would be most helpful to a novice wrencher. They're readily available (Pep Boys etc.) and cost a lot less than a Honda service manual.  
  Also, pick up a variety of magazines. Not just the mags that cater to your 'niche', like the mini-truck mags or the street-rod mags. Variety is everything, and interesting cars can only be built by drawing from a wealth of influences.

I've been reading a few rice-rocket mags:


As well as a couple of more traditional hot-rod publications (actually, I never stopped reading 'em):

Always check out some of the more race-oriented periodicals. They offer inspiration and tech help that can often trickle down to your ride:

  The magazines are useful in a number of ways. First, the features can show you what other people are doing. Not so you can copy them, but so you can build on their successes and learn from their failures. As outlined on the philosophy page, it's just as important to know what you don't want, as to know what you do want.
The real purpose of car mags is to get you to read the ads within. I hate that everything in the world is marketed to us, but when you're actually looking for a particular product, it's nice to find the manufacturer's ad with a toll-free number, or a mail-order discount retailer's ad with cheap prices.  
  I request just about every free catalog offered in every ad in every mag I read. They're often filled with useful reference info. More information = more inspiration. Unexpectedly useful are catalogs from chassis fabricators, since they often have products you never thought about before. For example, seeing a variety of pre-cut, weld-on tabs and brackets might change a project from an afternoon of fabrication to ten minutes of welding. So instead of pondering the job, you can just do it. Work smart, not hard.


Front Door