* Here is a note sent in by Brian Nunez, a regular contributor to this site and podcast. Brian has recently completed a project and along the way, picked up some helpful tips he wanted to share. Thanks Brian! *
HOW TO BUILD AN OLD CAR
All it takes is Time, Money, and Space. It’s that simple. However, the catch is; most of us only have 2 of the 3 items.
Let me explain:
- If you are young, let’s say around 20 years old you likely have the time and the space BUT you have no money.
- If you are middle aged let’s say around 40 years old, you likely have the money and space BUT, you have no time.
- If you are older, let say around 60 years old you likely have the money and time BUT you have no space. This is where sacrifice comes into play… the key to building a car is that you must sacrifice to gain the missing item.
- If you are young and lack money you must sacrifice doing what most your buddies are doing to gain the funds. Most times that's buying beer and partying. Are you ready to get up early and somehow make some extra cash?
- If you are middle aged and lack time you likely must sacrifice sleep after the kids get to bed or before they wake to work on your car.
- If you are older, it might be sacrificing the junk in the garage and/or getting the boxes that have been pilled up on top of your failed project. Start building shelfs to take up that wall space and make some room. Now, in all situations certain variables mean sacrificing a little more or a little less in some areas. My
point is that before you commit you must have that honest conversation with not only yourself but those it will affect.
Now that we covered sacrifice, lets cover some reality check items. Because we all get this new project high were it all seems so simple and easy.
1. Budget – what ever you think its going to cost … double it. If that number shocks, you…keep saving. It’s easy to budget to big items but those $20 trips to the auto part store add up, the $7 sanding disk… you are going to need a few. The case of beer you incentivized your buddies with all comes from your wallet.
Speaking of buddies…
2. Help & Discounts – We all have a friend who knows how to weld, a friend who builds engines, a buddy’s dad who used to … yeah, we get it. Truth is… if you plan on completing your car with other people’s free “help” AKA “labor”
you are in for a rude awakening.
3. Think small accomplishments not big picture – it’s only natural that we all have this grand vision for our build. What motor, paint color, wheels, etc. – just know that your “grand vison” can also be the reason your project fails Truth is, you need to plan for the small accomplishments that will keep you energized to
continue with the build. My suggestions would to be focus on brakes, suspension,
steering then powertrain. In between those tasks you can fill them with small task like wheels and tires, interior cleaning, part polishing, driveshaft maintenance etc.
4. Significant others - Although you will be doing all the above, your significant other needs to be in the loop. It’s your responsibility to give them the confidence that the sacrifices that you are making and more importantly THEY are making are going to be worth it. After considering the reality check items above now you are ready to build a timeline. Once you do, double it and then ask yourself what major life changes can/will happen during that time. Are you planning to move out, get married, or get a new job? All those things are not only going to potentially kill your project, but you bank account as well.
Lastly, I’ll cover some quick tips for you:
1. If you need to borrow a tool a 2nd time… go buy it instead.
2. We all know people that have started projects and never finished them… the only advice you should be taking from them is what not to do.
3. Take pictures! Not just for documentation but for future instructions! You think you’ll remember… you won’t.
4. Label / Organize everything – the time you spend organizing will pay it self-back double instead of trying to find the bolts and nut digging through buckets.
The last and final MAJOR TIP I have is to clean up your mess EVERY SINGLE NIGHT! Trust me – most car guys are procrastinators and not organized. The single thing that kills all projects is your own mess that leaves you unmotivated to go into the garage in the first place. That work bench filled with trash, tools, and scattered bolts. The boxes, tools and extension cords you have to hop-scotch over to get to the other side of the car. Yeah… something that simple keep will keep your project from ever being done.
So, how you feel now after listening / reading this is going to be an indicator as to how you should proceed. Building a car is just as much mental and emotional as it is physical. Completing a project car can be one of the most rewarding things you can do, it’s truly a balance between, "If it were that easy everyone would do it," and "people less capable than you have done it."
Now get to work!