I committed the cardinal sin of project cars, and I’m not sorry

When it comes to project cars, best practice is to focus on what keeps your task moving forward, in the direction of your end goal. However, the most tantalizing distraction, the siren song to any garage dweller with greasy fingernails, is doubling the workload by acquiring another project car. And I sailed my already full ship right towards that island.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.hagerty.com/articles-videos/articles/2019/08/15/i-committed-the-cardinal-sin-of-project-cars-and-im-not-sorry

Your girlfriend is a keeper, for sure. But do you warm her car up in winter for her? This, and of course, the practicality of trying to park her navigator in the low carport is what keeps the boy’s corvair safe over winter in the carport, rather than that monstrosity that my wife drives.

@01ksdavis - Thankfully her car has remote start, but I do fire up the snow blower in the morning to clear the driveway when it is needed. She will continue to have inside parking all winter. The motorcycles migrate to the basement and the Corvair will be stored at a friend’s barn outside of town. No big deal.

Good article, congrats on keeping that car in the family.

I think the “cardinal sin of project cars” is biting off more than you can chew resulting in never completing it.

Sure, for some people this is because they get a second car and/or keep adding projects. Other common “sins” include:

-attempting to restore what should be a parts car
-over confidence in one’s ability, time and/or budget
-cutting corners that end up wasting time and/or money down the line
-settling for something you don’t really love because it was cheap/available/given
-not accounting for other life factors

The best advice I was given was “start with the best thing you can afford that you actually want, and make sure it is already a driver. Live with and enjoy an older vehicle before you attempt to bring one back from the dead. This may mean saving some money and waiting a bit longer to buy that vehicle.” --most of my incompleted projects didn’t follow that rule.

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@pepperalls- Good points. I try not to knock those who take on the big projects, because I often play on the “safe” side of working on classic cars. No see through floors or engine blocks enter my garage.

This is exactly what I did. When I was ready to buy a classic car I only looked at examples that ran and drove. I wanted to be able to enjoy it immediately.

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My wife’s car is always in the garage. This is non-negotiable, and I love her for that.
There’s a group in the Holly/Davisburg area by me that drive these old Fords and some hop up the stock motors. I wish I could remember the name of the club, but they are a bunch of young people like yourself. They seem super knowledgeable and have cars very much like yours and they drive the heck out of them. Find them. They will be a great resource.
I think you did the right thing buying it from your Dad. You can’t put a price on something dear to you AND your family. Plus it’s an easy and forgiving car to fix up.

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Couple benefits of the Model-A Ford is that they’re small and ‘simple’. I have a 1929 Tudor and it doesn’t take up a lot of space, much less than the 1972 Chevelle that used to sleep next to it. My Model-A sits patiently, dreaming of a lowered, raked stance and hot rod V8 drivetrain. S-2000 drivetrain would be sweet too.

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I like the look of the Model A. Good starting point!
I’m somewhat fortunate, in that the only car remaining out there that I care to bother with at all is The car I first bought in 1/68, the night before I went to Viet Nam the second time, in Fargo, ND.
All of the others are now consigned to memory, the stories of them will be re-told and perhaps written. The Isetta, the C2 roadster, Yenko Stinger #042, The E-type FHC, the 635 CSi Europspec and the 850i BMWs, and especially the 1978 280Z “Black Pearl” I owned for 39 years - those stories now continue with someone else. There is no relative in my family that owns or has owned a vehicle I feel the least bit nostalgic for.
When I’m done with the 1966 Corsa convertible, that will be it – the end of my doing any more project cars.
So if you’re doing one – or even two – cars with a special appeal to you personally, all the best in that effort. Do it well – you’ll never be satisfied if you don’t.
And at some point, plan an exit strategy from further involvement with project cars so you can enjoy the ones you have.

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@drm101 - I’ll have to find that group. Sounds like a fun crew to get to know!

@johnrealtor - I really do like and appreciate the compact size on this coupe. It is a smaller footprint than my Corvair, which took me a minute to wrap my head around. An S2000 powertrain in a Model A sounds terrifying! I assume you have heard of the Cosworth-swapped 'A from a few years ago? Insanity.

I too have to clean off and warm up my girlfriend’s car in winter because of my dad’s 1930 Model A. I am in the process of getting it running and having it safetied which doesn’t entail too much because my Dad really looked after his A. We have a garage that would fit two cars but the other side of the garage is full of tools that I have been accumulating over the years. I have learned one thing in this life. NEVER get rid of a tool. As soon as you do you’ll need it. Good luck with your A. the last two years has been a real education in car design and where my Dad got his worries about cars from. He always had a little advice that seemed strange at the time but now that I’m familiar with his A I know where he got those ideas.

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I know the feeling, I pretty much retired five years ago and jumped into restoring nine old Corvettes I had acquired over the years, yup all nine at once. Add a ‘57 VW, a 550 Spyder and a ‘57 Chevy panel and I have a lot of projects; yet they’re all moving along. Oh I forgot I also jumped into filling in the roof and repainting my ‘36 Ford Coupe.

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Awesome story, have fun…
Sounds like a similar story, my dad has a 1929 Tudor coupe. It was his first car, and the car was actually purchased in 1929 by my Great Grandmother. She had bought it as a repo, so technically we are the second owners… It was painted in the mid 1950’s, but it has remained unchanged since then. It literally sits 20 feet from where I sit in a heated building where I work with my dad… Yes the car has been in the family for 90 years, I think we still have the sales receipt under the back seat… but I have yet to actually go look for it. My plan was not to restore it, but leave it be, and just make it road worthy for some car shows… I have 3 other show cars, so this one will go nicely with my collection…

I have the same garage deal with my wife - her car gets a spot in the garage in the winter. It means I have my long-dormant Alfa GTV6 project and my 1915 Model T speedster crammed in one side of the garage, and my modern car sits out in the snow. Harbor Freight car dollies are great! Just starting a project to fix the problem - two more good size garage bays with ceilings high enough for a lift.

@okfoz - That is an awesome story!

@csl5 - Neither I nor my favorite passenger intended to live at this house forever, so this experience has underscored why the next house we purchase will be one WITHOUT a garage. I would like to build a new space that fits my needs and sets a realistic cap to my capability as a home shop. High ceilings and a two post lift are a must, along with a clean room for engine assembly, upholstery work, and storage.

Well, I;'m 86, just finished another one, took me 1.3 years. A ‘56 IH 3/4 ton S-120 4WD pickup, a rusted up pile of junk, got it free. Took lots of body tDSC03449 in and welding, copper patches soldered on to fix the gas tank, the wife did the seat. It’s painted and done, you can drive it most anywhere, good heater, radio, the works. We have a farm so plenty of room and buildings, 6 old cars total on hand but have restored many in years past. I know every nut and screw on any Model A, same with the T. Set a goal, do it and get it done. Pic’ taken at the Fifties in St.Paul.

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Kyle sometimes the journey is just worth the effort. Life is short and the satisfaction of getting the A running and taking your Dad for a ride will be a life time memory for both of you. Just call if you ned a set of hands to help.


I subscribe to this also “start with the best thing you can afford that you actually want, and make sure it is already a driver." Knowing my history of starting projects and never getting them done I used the above motto when purchasing my first ‘classic’ car a 42 Plymouth. Still have it many years later and 3 other classics all drivers when purchased. However that is not to say that they don’t need some work done over the years. Fortunately not big projects, one needs a new gas tank and trying to decide if I want to do it or have the mechanic I use do the work. Probably best to pay him to do it and know that it will get done. LOL

@bdldo44 - I really enjoy that so many folks are offering help. Thank you for the offer and don’t be surprised if I take you up on it!

So I am in a similar situation…maybe worse. My 1970 Chevelle SS is mid-project with the chassis and powertrain completed in a frame-off process with every part new (including the hardware fasteners) except for the chassis itself and a professionally rebuilt engine. This assembly is sitting next to the stripped body on a roller cart. I find myself in need to selling it, but no one I have spoken to (and I’ve spoken to a lot of people/shops/etc.) has zero interest in buying it. So if anyone out there can point me towards a source, I would be extremely grateful. Thanks in advance for your attention!