I’ve had my share of project cars, most of which didn’t run when I got them and several more still didn’t when I sold them. Time and time again, I’ve let the spastic and unruly thought of, “Must have _____!” overcome the harsh reality that I already have too many projects. The car guy side of my brain is quite the salesman, easily burying any rational thoughts such as: “When will I find the time to work on this?” “What about the other three cars in the driveway?” and “She’s going to be mad at you!”
Time. That is really what it all comes down to. Every year I spend more hours behind a desk, stuck in traffic, or on an airplane. Painfully, that means less time in my garage and less occasion to work on my cars. The once abundant shop time of my youth has all but dried up—an inevitable fact of life. Honestly, I’m OK with that, and rather than putting down the wrench—something I doubt I could do if I tried—I’ve instead changed the way I approach project cars.
When you only have a few hours to enjoy a hobby, you best make the most of them. For me, that means slipping behind the wheel and going for a drive in one of my old rides. Currently, my 1970 C10 is the only one of my many projects that can do that since it actually runs—a state of being I intend to keep it in. Because of that, I have developed a new appreciation for projects I can accomplish in a heavily constrained timeframe. Whereas I used to look at the finished product, what the car would be overall on that far off day of completion, now I see the beauty in weekend projects. A disc-brake swap, suspension upgrade, or go-fast goody that I can enjoy the next day (rather than when the entire car is finished) has become an enjoyable escape.
While I have far too many cars hidden under tarps, living in driveway space borrowed from friends, or squeezed into comically small spots of backyard, having one that is a driver is paramount to preserving my love of old cars. Every time I slip behind the wheel of the C10, I’m instantly transported into a world of nostalgia. The sound of the small-block barking to life, the smell of the sunbaked vinyl, and the feel of the thin, cracked steering wheel in my hands is chicken soup for this gearhead’s soul. It never ceases to reinvigorate my passion for what I do. In a sense, my one driveable project car provides the motivational fuel for the others.
While my Nova gasser project sits on a homemade roller dolly with no front end, suspension, or interior, who would have thought a tired, old C10 would be my motivation to finish it. A running car has a personality that no project on jackstands can ever match. If you have a deficiency of hours to enjoy our automotive hobby, a running car is simply more fun.
Craigslist is a dark place, filled with affordably awesome things that I can’t/shouldn’t buy.”