I know, I know. It's been two years. I should be ashamed of myself. Werl, other things have been happening. I'm still wheeling around in my Datto and generally making people smile. It's running full EFI now and doing daily duties which brings me today's topic.
Nut & bolt restorations. (NBRs)
To the uninformed, what this means is the follow...
1. Completely dismantle the car to every nut and bolt. 2. Sandblast the body, fix every panel and repaint. 3. Completely reupholster the interior. 4. Rebuild and/or redo all the mechanical parts. 5. Probably, rewire the car along with all the rest.
I was at a car show on the weekend and got talking to a guy about my age. His current plan is do all of that to an early 70's Ford Falcon. It's a car that has original complete paint, interior and a working V8 already installed. Ie. he could easily get running and driving much like I have with my Datsun 1600/510. A friend in the trade told him it would cost...
$140,000 Australian Dollars by the time it's finished.
I want you to reflect on that figure for a minute. Because we both agreed that was a lot of money. So the conversation went as follows.
Me: 'Mate, don't paint it. Just getting it running as is. Save your family $120k. Take them on holidays and enjoy some time with them.'
Him: 'Blow the family. They can look after themselves. Holidays are just wasted money. 10 grand for four weeks and you never see it again.'
Him: 'I guess I should buy one that's already finished.'
Me, to my daughter, 'Did you hear what he said?'
Him: 'Yeah, you save about 50% by doing that. Letting someone else do the hard work.'
Me; 'So do that.'
Him: 'I couldn't help myself. I'd have to start fixing things on it anyway. I'm like a cat. It's got to be perfect.'
I sort of gave up trying after that. This fella was talking himself into throwing $140k at a car he would only get $70k from if sold. Now, that is just one dimension of the problem with NBRs. In fact, the money is just part the danger of them.
A. Finding the funds.
I dunno about you, but I can't put my hands on that sort of money easily. Tying it up in an old car is equally silly. Car's are made for driving. The less you drive it, the worse it is as a financial proposition. Don't talk about "investments". It's a crap shoot at best even with known favorites.
B. Time scales.
Most people take a LONG time to complete a NBR. If they finish it. It took me 18 months to do a light mechanical refit. A serious mechanical refit on another one took me 3 years. Once you strip the paint off a shell, you may as well as add 5 years to the time scale. In fact, I'd say the average NBR takes 10 years. That's 10 years of throwing cash at something. 10 years of a messy shed. 10 years of paying for that messy shed. 10 years of time away from your family. 10 years when you can't drive the car as a car so you need another car to drive. Everything costs more money as the time goes on. Worst still, the decent factory paint that stopped the rust is stripped off and good
straight panels rust even faster than they had while they wait. This is not "Overhauling".
C. Modified NBRs take even longer.
Modified cars often take a lot longer. You're never happy with your first go at modding the car. You will muck things up and your loved ones will lose more and more patience with you. Cars have destroyed marriages and families. At the end of it, the car will likely be worth less money than you spent on it.
D. Impatience and more projects
Most people with one car project often end up with more. My wife has been a stickler for the "one play car" rule and I'm glad of it now. Many of my mates have bought and sold multiple unfinished projects that they never, ever finished. They lose more money on every one of those projects. Which brings me to the last point.
E. The tragedy of unfinished NBRs
Pretty much the worst thing that can happen to most complete old cars is a nut and bolt restoration. I hear a few guys say this and I think they're right. The car is blown into a million parts and often, never put back together. My wife's uncle died with a completely disassembled MG TF in his garage roof. His son has lost interest in it too. A lovely old car that would probably still be driving if it hadn't been a failed NBR. Amongst all this, parts go missing and more often than not it's sold over and over until it ends up cut up for parts or crushed and scrapped. Often that's 50 years of wasted money, a messy shed and a useless car. Facebook market place is FULL of cars like this every week. It's a disaster. Even a very well done unfinished project will only be worth about 35% of it's completed value. Sometimes a lot less.
Reality: most nut and bolt restorations are never finished.
So, open your eyes and think hard. If you've got something old, mostly complete and easily roadworthy, make it roadworthy and drive it. Thankfully, factory paint is now more valuable than resprays. So, fix the rusty bits. Wax the rest of it. Tune it up and drive it. Let your wife and kids enjoy it rather than have to take it to the tip when you die. Do worry about what it looks like. Drive it and enjoy it. If you have to have something "shiny", buy a completed restoration. Just be aware it won't be perfect either.