A Rotisserie for a 2002

When planning this restoration, I knew that somehow I had to have easy access to the underside of the car. I plan on doing my best work on every other inch of the car, so why settle for some black undercoating on the bottom? So how do you repair and paint the bottom of a car? Put it on really tall jack stands, and do the cleaning, welding, and painting while lying on your back? No thanks! Roll the car on to its side, using some old tires to cushion it? You've gotta be kidding! These methods have been used with varying degrees of success by others, but I knew there had to be a better way. The more I thought about it, the more I came to the conclusion that a rotisserie was the best solution. I'd seen ads for body rotisseries, but I was sure that I could build my own. I turned to the Internet for the answer.

Rotisserie 1

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After wading through numerous web searches that seemed to turn up nothing but chicken recipes and fantasy baseball leagues, I finally uncovered some plans that fit my requirements. What I wanted was a proven design that would be adjustable, mobile, portable, and most of all, safe. The design that I settled on traces its way back to an article written by Jeff Lilly of Jeff Lilly Restorations, and published by Muscle Car Review in May 1993. It has proven itself to be sturdy, portable, and easy to use. Plus, it tends to impress visitors to my garage. I may not have much restoration progress to show for my efforts so far, but I do have a 2002 shell supported about four feet up in the air!

Rotisserie 2

Not only does a rotisserie make it really easy to work on the bottom of the car, putting wheels on the rotisserie makes for a handy way to move around a stripped-down shell.

Construction was pretty straightforward, requiring a couple solid weekends' worth of work. The time and cash outlay was moderate, considering the benefits. And if you really shop around for your materials, you could probably build one for less than $500. When it's all done, you won't believe how nice it is to be able to work on almost any part of the body shell while standing up or sitting on a stool.

I have created my own plans and drawings, but if you would like to read the original Muscle Car Review article it is available here (pdf).

Heavy Lifting

To raise and lower the car, I use Massdam Pow'r'Pull winches with "notch-at-a-time" lowering. These can be found at Home Depot for about $30 each. Put about a foot-long piece of chain around the Rotating Tube (#11), then hook one end of the puller to the chain, and then hook the other end of the puller to the top of the Upright (#1). Unfortunately, the length of the puller itself will make it impossible to lift to the upper holes on the upright. So to solve this problem, I use a two foot length of 1" square tube bolted through the top hole of each Upright to make an extension. I find that this approach works well enough for me, but it is still impossible to lift to the top hole on the Upright. So far this has not been a problem.

Rotisserie Hoist

Although a little slow, these winches do a perfectly fine job of lifting.

PTG M3 Rotisserie

Obviously this is not my car or my rotisserie, but an M3 race car under construction at the Prototype Technology Group shop. I chose to include this picture because it shows some really good ideas that you might wish to incorporate into your design. Note how the hydraulic ram is used for lifting. Also, check out the infinitely adjustable mounting arms. Photo source unknown.


I mounted pneumatic casters on all four corners. The casters are mounted using large U-bolts. This is probably not the best solution. I always have to make sure that the nuts are not working loose. A better approach would have been to weld some 1/4" plate or angle to the Wheel Bases (#6), and then bolt the casters to the plate. One day I'll get around to this.

Now The Hard Part

The most challenging aspect of this project was not the actual construction of the rotisserie, it was figuring how to hook it up to a 2002. Pictures of other applications using this rotisserie made it look easy. The bodies were just bolted right to the attaching arms. It's not quite that easy on an '02 - especially a round taillight car. I have seen pictures of a square taillight 2002 attached to a rotisserie using the bumper mounts, but the bumper brackets on pre-'74 cars are definitely not strong enough. Trust me, I tried it! My solution to this problem was to reach under the car and pick it up by the front and rear subframe mounting points. This involved a lot of trial and error, but it works pretty well. Mind you, I haven't tried to spin the car upside down. I'm not sure how well my system will support the car when it is inverted. I think it'll work, but I haven't felt like pushing my luck. Turning the car on its side is no problem at all, and I don't really need to spin it all the way over anyway.

The mounting adapters (as I call them) are made from scrap industrial shelving hardware. It's much like the shelves that you would see in a warehouse, or one of those large home improvement stores. It is available in the Denver area for a buck a foot in 10 foot lengths. This stuff is cheap, rigid, light, and easy to work with.

The front adapter is very straightforward, as it bolts right to the front sub-frame mounts. The rear adapter is a bit more tricky. The long arms bolt to rear subframe bushing studs (just ahead of the rear fender), while the mounting adapter cross member is bolted to the differential mounts. Plans are included on the the drawings page.

Front Adapter

The front adapter bolts to the shell using all six subframe bolts.

Front Adapater Detail

Close-up of the frame rail and the front adapter.

Rear Adapter

The rear adapter was much more challenging.

Rear Adapter

Both front and rear adapters are bolted to the rotisserie arms with two bolts per corner. Note the blue colored material the adapters are made from. It features a box section within a box section—sturdy stuff.

Rear Adapter

The rear adapter bolts up to the differential mounts.

Rear Adapter

The rest of the rear adapter bolts to the rear subframe bushing studs. Bushings made out of 1" pipe actually support the car, not the subframe studs.

Front Adapter

Front adapter—a diagonal brace made from 1" square tube helps to keep things from shifting around.

Rear Adapter

Rear adapter—the long arms bolt to the rear subframe bushing studs, the cross member bolts to the differential mounts, and diagonal braces hold it all together.

Rear Adapter

When putting it all together, I have found that it works best to attach the mounting adapters first, then hook the adapters up to the rotisserie.

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