Plan for Success

A loud groan from the car trailer’s suspension broke the silence as we winched the old Ford truck aboard. The old pickup was once Ralph’s dream, as thoughts of driving his family around the neighborhood or in the local Fourth of July parade fueled his passion. But, like so many other unfinished projects I’ve bought over the years, Ralph’s dream failed to become reality when a lack of resources and knowledge stalled the project. As years passed, his patience and persistence for the project diminished and soon the old truck merely reminded him of the space it took up in the garage.

I’ve always believed that for every car in attendance at the local car show there are at least a dozen more sitting in garages, sheds, and fields. Truth be told, many car projects suffer the same fate as Ralph’s, although with a little planning and honest personal assessment prior to purchasing a new project, many more dreams could become reality.

The scenario always plays out similarly. It starts with the proverbial “great deal.” You know, the $500 Chevelle that’s only a little rusty, or Grandpa’s Buick behind the barn that’s only missing a few parts. Before laying down your hard earned cash for that “great deal,” take a moment to consider what needs to be done and whether you have the skills, time, and resources to get the job done. The time and cost to complete a car can escalate quickly. Rare parts, replacement panels, and unforeseen problems can all take the steam out of your progress if you’re not prepared.

Ask questions before you buy! Not only from the seller, but from other car enthusiasts as well. There are many cars that have unique problems or simply have parts that are unavailable. Knowing what to expect and how to deal with it before you purchase will help keep your project on track.

Once the decision is made to buy, planning the progress of the build is key to ensuring a successful completion. Keep your expenses within budget and your progress expectations conservative, while leaving ample time to spend with friends and family. When all is said and done, you’ll want them to enjoy your new ride as much as you do.

A friend and fellow enthusiast once told me, “Nothing happens in the garage after nine o’clock that can’t wait until tomorrow.” His message was clear as it related to cars and life alike: it’s not so important how quickly you get to the end, but rather that you enjoyed the journey.

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14 Responses to “Plan for Success”

  1. Richs

    Here's a "tip" I'd like to share to every and any car enthusiast - if you love old cars/trucks/hot rods etc. get one that you can drive on any day that you choose, enjoy it! If your desire is to be a mechanic/auto body enthusiast - then by all means buy that piece of rust and work on it for the next 20 years. Life is too short for all the "I'm going to's - my plan is to.." My brother bought the car of his dreams - 68 Camaro - sat in his garage for over 20 years - he had more invested in clips - quarter panels - torches - compressor - welders - etc - he died of cancer as the car sits on jack stands and is completely tore apart... just saying....

  2. Alex Scott

    As a car mechanic, I also have the same opinion as you. Think twice to make a decision again.

  3. Jason McDonald

    Good story

  4. Bill

    I am into old British cars,VW Beetles, and one 1942 Dodge Pickup

  5. Patrick

    I found the truck of my dreams a couple of years ago, 83 jeep Honcho stepside J-10. 1 of 1263 built. In the time I have owned I have rebuilt the engine (out in the driveway) and ... well not much else. I figure when I'm 126 I'll have her ready to show!

  6. Blake S.

    As a car mechanic, I also have the same opinion as you. Think twice to make a decision again.

  7. John courtright

    I know a lot of “want to work” on my car folks who need a place to work on their cars. I know there are some places out there, but my concept would be a monthly fee to store & Work on your car. How many people would take advantage of this idea & how much would it be worth to you to not have to move projects around & have the resources to work on a car.

  8. Marlon Fannin

    I just inherited a 1951 Ford F1 that belonged to my Father-in-law. I've tried to get him to work on it together for 14 years.( It sat next to a 65 Mustang GT convertible.) I just recently got it home & starting to determine what needs to be done to get her running again. The body is in decent shape and someone has replaced the original drivetrain with a SBC. This will be my first attempt. So... looking for any help I can get!!

  9. Tim

    I always wanted to restore a 54 - 56 Ford F100. The problem was I realised I did not have the place, money or time to complete such a project. I was lucky I realized this before I sent the 500.00 bucks on that deal of the century! This is a great reminder I made the right decision.

  10. william

    LOL...I'm guilty! I bought a 1982 Mercury Cougar II (fox chassis, favors Ford Fairmont) for $100 when I lived in Houston TX in 2010. I've dragged it around the country a little over the years with the promise that I'll get back to it someday (street rodding it). Now I've finally gotten her home, as I finished building my house and 30 x 40 workshop last year. Got the wood stove in the garage and ready to hit it hard this winter....but yes, very easy to push it aside and a few months turns into years!!