I'm looking for suggested reading for guides/how to's covering coachwork. Both timber and steel frame. Not so much a repair guide but more if I'm starting from scratch.
I have the set "Antique Auto Body for the Restorer" which has specific volumes for metal work (including building bodies), wood work (same), leather work, top work, and one on decoration. They are extremely valuable resources to me and can be picked up relatively inexpensively. If I were to try to build a custom body that is where I would start.
Realistically, financially I'm a long way off getting a T so getting a rolling chassis and going from there might be another option.
I've just found the those books.
Glascott, Look into making a Depot Hack or Huckster body for your chassis. Easier and will get you on the road sooner.
I think you'd spend more on tools, material and supplies than what you would pay for a complete Model T. That doesn't count all the scrap you'll make while you learn metal shaping. The earlier bodies are little easier since the panels are just nailed over a wood frame but none of the panels are flat. And forming large panels is nothing like hammering out a small patch panel between two pieces of wood like many here have done.
That said, I also think it's commendable that someone would undertake such a challenge. However, learning as you go can create many disappointing parts. It's not only learning woodcraft but also using the tools and how metal reacts to various forms of directional stresses. You can't read a book and do that. I've been forming and repairing sheet metal for over 40 years and I still learn new things. Or perhaps I learned them and forgot.