Jim’s Blog: Share Your Projects

If there’s one takeaway from all these weeks of stay-at-home recommendations and/or orders, it’s this: Projects are a lot more important than they once were.

We all need stuff to do to recharge, and if you’re the kind of car person that likes to work with your hands, an old car is a great focus. Now, with the rest of the world on hold, your projects can get a lot more of your attention — and your days at home won’t just blend together.

Now, when I say “project,” I don’t necessarily mean a complete restoration. When I bought my first house, people said “every house is a project. Even the new ones. You just don’t know it yet.” Well, old cars are the same way. From a simple polishing job all the way to an engine rebuild, every car can be a project — from 100-point restos to barn-find stinkers. You just have to sit back, assess what that car could use, and get to work. 

Making that car better — even if only marginally — is pretty fulfilling.

Here in my shop, I’ve spent a bunch of time detailing the C10 I built for my book, and made a couple hoses to complete an R134a conversion. I also added in a high-speed cutoff relay to shut down the new a/c compressor above a certain RPM — the LS V8 likes to rev to speeds that kill a/c compressors. Next up for that one is a slight adjustment of the passenger’s side fender — I need to bring the rear up slightly to match the body line better.

Beyond that, I spent a couple of hours with ACC’s Mustang as well — I washed it, adjusted the carburetor I rebuilt a few issues back, and dove into the passenger’s door to adjust the glass alignment. People out walking in my neighborhood loved seeing it outside in the sun — at least judging by the number of at-a-distance conversations I had about the car while I was outside working on it.

What have you been up to in your garage? Share it with us below.

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  1. I spent the winter installing a Studebaker 289 V-8 and 700R4 automatic transmission in my 1949 Studebaker pickup. Currently doing an interior upgrade with sound deadening material. Also, restoring a 1963 Avanti R-2, 4 speed car for a friend. This car needs a lot, finding parts has slowed the process.

    1. Brian, I wish we could pass pics. I love studebakers and I don’t run past that many of them now. When I was in high school, I had a 67 mustang that I was always working on. So my folks found a 61 Lark for my dad or me to drive when our project went to long. Well, all of the work I did on my Mustang never drew the attention I got when I took the stude out cruising. My friends dubbed it the Stud Maker, so glad to hear that you are keeping them on the road.

  2. Jim, I started the COVID season in AZ where I was able to do some work on my LS3 1L680 powered 61 Buick Bubble Top that I am getting ready for market. I also worked on peeling off some blistering peeling paint from a cheap 80s repaint of a 77 Cherokee Wide Body to show some patina. I am currently back east coordinating efforts to complete both now.
    Since being back east, the daughter and I have been spending a lot of time in the garage where we did a deep dive to detail the undercarriage of my 04 SRT-10, to include a heavy polishing of the rims. We are now using that polishing knowledge to polish out my 79 nickle plated mongoose and my chrome 84 kuawahra laser lite. We are hoping that one of these can still make some shows later this spring/summer/fall this year.

  3. I’ve been reviving a 1-owner, 1970 Volvo 145 Station Wagon with manual transmission. The Volvo followed its original owner, Sally O., from Massachusetts to London, England then Palo Alto, California, and finally back to Wellesley, Massachusetts when Sally left the Volvo in the care of the shop she was using at the time. Thirty years past before it enjoyed sunshine again so when I referred to it as “reviving”, I wasn’t kidding! The whole story is here with pix if you are interested. https://flic.kr/s/aHsmHMHpZF