Thanks for the comments guys, I appreciate the time. I've discovered that there is absolutely no way I'll have this finished in time for class deadline in a week, but I'm going to turn this into finished asset, place it in a little environment, and do it right.
Laurens, thanks a bunch - I did my first high poly model over the summer (an m1917 revolver) while going through your hotrod tutorial on cgtuts, and it was incredibly clear and helpful. That's specifically why I challenged myself with a car of this type, and I refer back to it often when I'm wondering how similar parts were done.
I've been modeling all day, so I threw everything into one of my render scenes to grab a couple beauty shots. I'll try to update regularly as I work on this.