Growing up, I always had old cars ($1000 or less), and I twice had a car with T-Tops, or a Sun Roof. If you’ve never had a car with a hole in the roof, you just don’t know what you are missing.
A few years ago, I cut a sunroof in the roof of my $250 pickup truck. It was my first experience modifying a car. While it wasn’t perfect, it wasn’t bad either. I used the lid from a large plastic rubbermaid container as the template for the sunroof. I bought a cheap skill saw from Harbor Freight, and an abrasive blade (made for cutting metal). After outlining the lid in red crayon… I ran an extension cord out my apartment window to the parking lot, and started cutting. Needless to say, I attracted some attention and weird looks.
Later, I took that same truck, and created the unfinished SHO Truck.
Now, I have this cheap $300 Saturn SL1… And, I have wanted to create a car truck for a while. I like cars, they get good gas mileage, and they handle nice. But I like trucks too. Trucks are so convenient. You buy groceries, you just toss them in the bed, and drive home. Need to move a lawn mower? No big deal, just load it in the bed and go… But the gas mileage isn’t good, and they don’t handle that great. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to have one. But I don’t. I have this Saturn instead.
I was first just going to cut off the whole roof, pillars and all, and turn it into a Rat Rod convertible. But, my friend Nate came over to help me. And he had a few GREAT ideas, that have allowed me to keep the car structurally sound, and have opened a way to easily make a decent looking Saturn Truck.
Ok, I’ll stop boring you, here are the pics and some notes.
Step 1 – Remove the head liner.
This was a piece of cake, we both just grabbed loose edges, and pulled… Nate then trimmed it up with a utility knife while I removed the gutter / trim.
Step 2 – Remove the gutter / trim. The top side trim came off with the removal of a dozen torx screws. Piece of cake.
Step 3 – Remove the rear window. I kind of wanted to save this, as I hadn’t decided whether to create just two large sun roofs, or a wide open cab. However, I was pretty sure we didn’t need it. I was working on the trim, when Nate started prying on the rear window… I heard the inevitable “pop” followed by the sound of glass falling.
Step 4 – Remove broken glass from car.
Step 5 – Mark where to cut.
When working on my truck, one of the big things I learned, was remove less than you think you will need to. It is WAY WAY harder to weld pieces back together then it is to cut them in part… On my truck, I more than once removed what I thought I needed to, only to see a much easier way of doing things later, that was now not possible due to removed material.
I decided I wanted to keep all the structural members of the roof in place for now. So, we marked where they were (we got in the car, and using a screw driver as a chisel, and a hammer, created punch marks outlining all the structural members. This produced small, but easy to see marks on the outside that showed where to cut. We then used masking tape to make a VERY clear line as to where to cut (another great idea from Nate).
Step 6 – Check surroundings for flammable things. Once upon a time, I was careless. But, after seeing one too many YouTube videos of flaming fireballs of death… I am now much more cautious of fire hazards…
Step 7 – Man the fire extinguisher.
I may be a crazy Red Neck, but I’m a prudent crazy red neck.
Step 8 – CUT!!!
This is the best part… Armed with a skill saw with an abrasive blade, safety glasses, industrial ear muffs, and welding gloves, we dig in…
(More Cool pictures of sparks flying…)
(See Gallery for more…)
Step 9 – Stand around, and stare at the amazing things you can do in 2 hours with a metal cutting saw…
Next… The metal sheet that makes the roof, is actually between 1/16″ and 1/2″ above the structural members. I am going to cut some small strips of steel from the removed roof sections, and weld the roof to the structural members all the way around. Then comes creating a way to put a cloth top over everything back to where the rear window was. After that, some more cutting and welding to minimize the steel that sits behind the seats between the two rear struts (without compromising structural integrity.) Then, cutting the trunk lid, converting it into a tail gate of sorts, and doing what I can to convert the trunk into a small truck bed. With the seats down, it is almost 6′ of room. From the back of the front seats, to the end of the trunk.
Tags: Saturn Truck