JUNE 7, 2012: ASK ANY VETERAN CAR GUY WHAT REALLY MATTERS IN A PROJECT–THE LAST 10%

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Last week I had a conversation with a guy named Fudd Fjallman, an old school car guy.

 

He’s one of our local legends in the hot rod world.

 

Fudd has been twisting wrenches on cars since the post-Elvis and pre-Beatles days and he knows his way around a car project.

 

One of the things Fudd brought up was the completion time for a project.

 

Fudd reminded me of one cold hard fact about a project: the last 10% of the project will take 90% of the time spent on the project and he is absolutely right.

 

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Fittingly, another local car guy named Butch Henry was there when Fudd made his very accurate assessment and he could not have agreed more with Fudd’s statement of fact. Anybody who has ever taken on a project knows what Fudd said was true of every project that goes to a higher level.

 

By the time most car guys get close to the finish line with their projects, they can get so ornery that even their own dog will start to hate them. Every car project is like a long road trip because the closer you get to your home, the longer it will take to get home; and patience will not be your strongest virtue. Not even close.

 

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The devil is in the details when it comes to a car project and that last 10% is all about the details. You may have forced a big block into a small engine compartment or you may have rebuilt a ride back to its factory specs, but the job is far from done for you.

 

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The body may be back together and look shiny and new, but have you put the wiring harness back together and is every little piece of trim back in the right place? Do the wipers work and have you got brakes on that car?

 

Fudd was right because it probably looked a lot closer to completion before you started address the finishing details. He and Butch both agreed that one of the biggest barriers in that last 10% until completion is that it will take a lot of time, probably much longer than you think would even be remotely possible.

 

That is the curse of the last 10% and the two car guys know there is only one way to complete the project: you have to stay on it. Butch and Fudd both know you have to keep the pedal to the metal for the last 10% until completion.

 

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Walk away for any period of time and suddenly it is five years later, plus you still face that same merciless 10% until the car is on the road.

 

It is a thankless, loveless and joyless task that will seem longer and less fun than a visit to a proctologist but, when you whittle down that last 10% and you are on the road, it will all seem worthwhile, even if your dog has left you by that time.

 

Jim Sutherland

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