I recently got so fed up with my 1992 Galant VR4 that I sold it. Not just sold it, but completely rebuilt it, fixing everything mechanical that was conceivably wrong with it – up to and including replacing the entire engine and transmission. When I got it all back together and ready to deliver to the new owner across town, I was blown away at just how nice “my” car really was. So why do we get fed up with our cars and move on?
Today is Forum Friday, the one day of the week I’m supposed to have a handful of neat threads to share with you from all over the web. Unfortunately, I’ve been so busy the last few weeks, I’ve barely been able to get to my own home boards, and I don’t want this series to be my favorite discussions from GalantVR4.org, 4x4wire.com, and ExpeditionPortal.com. I mean, that’s all fine and good and all, but this is supposed to be about variety!
There was, however, one conversation – on GalantVR4.org – which stood out to me and inspired this post. It touched on something very important that I think nearly every gearhead who has to slowly build his project over time deals with once in a while; that feeling that it’s time to get out of one project and start up a new one.
The #1 reason why we buy new cars is…
We are tired of the old one. Hardly the revelation some might have expected from the headline, but what I think is so important is the underlying reasons why so many of us get tired of our old cars and get rid of them before they’re completed.
Some of our brothers and sisters are fortunate enough to reach a point where they complete their projects to the letter. They can step back, look at their vehicles, and consider them done. These vehicles are maintained, maybe driven to shows or raced for a couple seasons, and then the thrill is gone.
At the other end of the spectrum, some of us seem to never make any progress. It’s as if each step forward is matched by two steps back. How did my once running car become a gutted, dust-covered pile of steel and plastic in my garage? We laugh about being JSB (jack stand baller), but we’re crying on the inside. At once, we are reminded of our dreams and our shortcomings. Negative progress sucks!
The #1 reason we get tired of the old one is…
We don’t take the time to properly plan in the beginning. This, too, is hardly a revelation, but this is where I think the majority of us Regular Joe Gearheads run into trouble. When we don’t stand for something, we fall for anything. If I haven’t determined I only need 300whp in my bullet-proof, reliable daily driver, so I can still run with the big dogs at the race track every other weekend, I’m susceptible to peer pressure to build the fastest, most powerful car I can. And we all know there’s a lot of pressure to do that sort of thing.
But I had a plan. I had a goal. And I STILL got tired of my car.
Hey. I’m not suggesting it’s a black-and-white deal. It’s just that it’s far too easy to think of arbitrary numbers as meaningful goals. Know thyself, gearhead. It’s perfectly normal to want a race car – most of us do – but few of us are willing (or able) to live with one on a daily basis. Do you really want to depend on a finicky bitch of a machine tuned right to the bleeding edge to get you to work every day? I don’t.
Remember this episode of Top Gear?
Clarkson was in a Lamborghini, Hammond was in a Porsche (of course), and May was in a stripped-down, race-spec Aston Martin. It was brilliant in the end, but for the majority of the episode, he was miserable. There’s a lesson to be learned there.
Seriously. It sounds counter-intuitive at first, but can bring us rich rewards. In the Top Gear episode, above, Jezza and the Hamster drove 100% stock vehicles. Granted, they’re super-cars, but they’re stock. And though Captain Slow’s Aston Martin never broke down on him, as many of our relatively low-budget machines have done, the no-expenses-spared performance build turned the majority of the experience into a nightmare.
The trick, then is to set specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, timely – SMART – goals for our projects based on how we use them most often. When we turn our daily drivers into race cars, we have to expect to lose comfort and reliability. There’s a reason why just about every purpose-built race car out there arrives and leave the track on a trailer. Why do you think that is?
In the end, I probably spent a good 80 hours and $200-$300 on my old Galant. When I was done and the rage subsided, it was better than I ever thought it could be. I mean, it was really, really nice. I look back at these pictures now and feel a twinge of regret at selling it, but I’m also fortunate to have another one in the garage and can use this experience to motivate me to make progress on it.
- Why did you buy your current project?
- What does it take to daily drive a race car?