Let’s assume that you are not Jay Leno, therefore you probably do not have a giant mountain of disposable income to throw at a restoration project.
Let’s assume that you also do not have a well-paid world class team of builders and fabricators on your personal annual payroll like Leno’s team.
Let’s assume that it is highly unlikely that you will live to be a hale and hearty 465 years old and acquire a serious list of valuable automotive restoration skills along the way.
Let’s assume that you are destined to live an average lifespan and are not naturally talented enough to tackle a major rust-oration along the way.
Many car guys tend to ignore these hardcore reality checks as they become bedazzled by the sheer beauty of another major car project that is well beyond their limits of skill set, income level and lifespan when thrown in with their current car crop.
My brother called a long row of old cars and trucks that needed major reconstruction his healing line. They represented a source of endless dreams and boundless optimism for him as he envisioned the future world where his vehicles would one day get their groove back in life.
It was an honorable goal that gave him plenty of peace of mind and contentment when he took his strolls through his healing line, but it was totally unlikely that he would have been able to convince his patient and realistic wife that all of his vintage cars and trucks were destined to be saved by him.
I carry that same gene, so I understood why it is so hard to pass up an opportunity to breathe life back into an old vehicle. At the same time I am well-schooled in the reality of a project where things will take longer and cost more than any car guy ever believed was possible at the start line.
My simple advice to any car guy is to take their addiction to old vehicles in dire need of repair one day and one vehicle at a time. Tackle one project, finish it, and enjoy the ride when you have finished your car project.
Avoid a hoarder philosophy because eventually too many rusty vehicles will only devalue your property, the vehicles and probably your marriage, unless you were lucky enough to marry a girl like my brother’s wife.
The second best option if you simply cannot pass up a smoking deal on an old ride is fairly valuable: make sure it runs and is in reasonably good mechanical condition. If you buy a running and drivable vehicle for a reasonable price, then you can enjoy a placeholder while you work on your project vehicle.
Do not, I repeat, do not bring out the wrenches and begin to tear down your newest acquisition before you have finished Project A. This will bring you right into the Valley of Tears because your brash and foolish game plan will only double your heartache when a running vehicle is quickly reduced to an inert and lifeless mass with plenty of missing parts.
The vehicle will look as sad as you will feel when you finally put down the wrenches and fight back the tsunami-sized waves of utter remorse.
I cannot repeat my earlier and final point enough: do not buy too many cars projects for more than one lifetime and a non-Leno income.
That means one vehicle at a time in almost every case for the average car guy.
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