Should you remember watching the sitcom Home Improvement? In this show Tim Taylor, played by Tim Allen, hosts his own show called Tool Time and is a true “Man’s Man” with a bevy of macho sayings, grunts and activities. “More Power” is his claim to fame and infamy as well as most of the ideas he comes up with to add more power to seem to blow up in his face. It almost seems as if the Binford tools he uses are as bad as the Acme items the Coyote buys in the Looney Tunes cartoons, but the problem isn’t with the function of the tools, but in his need to improve them with more power.
While this show was funny and a great sitcom, the one thing the Tim Taylor character always seemed to be doing and eventually was able to get moving was a project car he had in the garage. This was his labor of love that spanned the series across different seasons. The garage was a place he could find sanctuary and give lesson to the sons on the show as well as work things out with his wife.
If you think you would love to have a project car to work on and pictures of Tim Taylor in the garage come to mind, stop and don’t even get started. The simple reality is restoring an old car or building one from the start is a difficult, long process that takes patience, tools, the right parts and a lot of work. Building and restoring any old car is a true labor of love that should have some connection with you, such as restoring a car you once drove in your teenage years or a car you dreamed about for many years, but even if you love the car it doesn’t always love you back.
Here are some rules to follow before you make the decision to build a project car:
- Dream – Is this the car of your dreams or just a car that was a great barn find? There are many cars rotting away in barns around the country that were at one time or another a project car but the person performing the restoration didn’t have their heart in it. You want the car you have dreamed about for many years; even if no one else can understand why this car is your dream car it only needs to connect with you.
- Budget – You need to have a budget to follow. Whether that means you can invest a specific amount each month into the car or only at the time when you receive your tax return, this project should not break your bank or cause you to go without eating for a month. If that were to happen you would soon become disenchanted with the project and find yourself ready to move on. If the desire to build or restore a car outweighs the desire to take a vacation or keep on saving, go ahead and start the project, but have a budget in mind before your start.
- Guidance – While your budget should be your guide you need to look at ever variation of what it will take for this project to actually take place. Doing this job right is the only way you will be happy with it, but the overall cost will most likely come out to be ten to twenty percent more than what you initially think of, even if you consider all the parts, services and tools you will need up front. Inevitably you will find something you didn’t originally see that needs to be replaced or rebuilt.
- Inspection – Have a pre-purchase inspection done on the car, regardless of the condition. If the car is an older model you might need this to be done by an expert on that model vehicle. This will help you know what you should expect during your restoration project so you can have all the information needed to get the job done the right way and have a much better idea of the overall costs. You can walk away from the project if you deem it too expensive for you to handle on your budget.
- Logistics – Now you need to plan the logistics of the project. What can you do? What do you need someone else to do for you? Where will you get the parts to get the job done and where can you find the advice you need to make this project work well for you? Now that we have the internet you will have more information at your disposal than those who did project cars before the dawn of the internet. This can be both helpful and dangerous, be sure you are using only reputable and trustworthy sources by reading their reviews.
- Patience – Now that you made the decision to buy the vehicle and it looks great sitting in your garage, even in its rusted out and beaten down state, have the patience to execute the project and see it through. This will be the time that tests you more than any other but you can find it rewarding to learn more about yourself and how much patience you can have. The tenacity to actually restore a vehicle to an original state, or in some cases better than original, will give you a vehicle you can be proud to own and drive after you’re done with the project.
These may all seem like logical steps to take in the process of rebuilding a car, but when you see that dream car of yours in the barn covered with rust, there are time the heart takes over where the mind should be. Be sure to take a step back, think about your decision overnight at least, and if you are married, include your spouse in the decision. You can end up with an awesome and perfectly restored vehicle or you could end up in a far worse situation than you started if you don’t add some thought and common sense to the idea of building a project car.
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