After more than forty years in the hobby, and having way more pre war cars passing through my hands than any reasonable person should have, I will pass on this observation.
When aquiring any “new” to you pre war car, almost everyone is instantly ready to take it for a ride. In reality the proper thing to do when one takes delivery is to place it in the garage and go through the entire car, all at once BEFORE one takes it for a road test. The problem is new owners are over excited and in a rush to drive, before safety and reliability checks are performed. It takes a long time in the hobby to get disciplined enough to practice what I am about to outline.
Before any “new” to you car is driven, it just makes sense to PROPERLY go through the entire car. Here is a partial list.........
Remove fuel tank, clean and seal, fuel pump, mechanical and electrical, fuel lines and filters.
Overhaul started, replace cables, new battery, cut off switch.
Overhaul fan, replace belt.
Drop oil pan, inspect bearings, clean sludge, inspect timing chain, ect.
Remove radiator, flush, paint, test for leaks and flow.
Pull water jacket cover and clean block.
Pull the head, lap or do a valve job, and if compression was low, hone and rings.
New plug wires, coils, plugs.
Sort and make ENTIRE electrician system work.
New tires, new tubes.
Replace exhaust if needed, fix all leaks and Mickey Mouse pipes.
Drain and fill transmission.
Pull all drums, repack all wheel bearings, brake job as necessary.......that includes all booster, rods, cables, ect.
Be sure all gauges on the dash function correctly.
Fix windshield wipers.
Fix all doors, hinges, windows, regulators, seat adjustments, visors, ect.
All of the above applies to barn finds, old restoration, or 100 point show cars. The better looking the car and the higher the price, the more work they tend to need.
The above is a short list.....with another fifty items to go over. Fact is it’s much easier to go through the ENTIRE car, and make everything right BEFORE you take it down the road. Being stranded on the side of the road, frustrated with all the “normal” problems puts so many people off the hobby it’s almost unbelievable. Even if it takes a year for you to get it all done, it’s the best way to have a car that is truly enjoyable. Yes, I practice what I preach, and have never regretted taking my time, properly sorting the car. There is NOTHING better than taking a car out for the first time and having a trouble free round trip. Reguardless of time or cost, in the end you going to need to do all the same things anyway, why not make your first few months on the road relaxing and enjoyable? I just finished sorting a MAJOR league pre war car.......a “big time machine”..........it took me three and a half months, on and off to get it where I was happy with it and took it down the road. I left the shop for the first time with NO tools or supplies, as I had an uneventful first fifty mile drive. Since then I have driven it another half dozen times, making adjustments and notes. I think I have about twenty new things I would like to tweak, but overall the car runs and drives fine.
All of thr above takes two things nome of us have enough of anymore.....time and money. Buy ANY CCCA Classic that has been parked for ten or twenty years in a garage or museum, plan on spending twenty grand to get it back on its wheels. Yes, it’s that costly to get a car sorted properly. If you can’t do it yourself without getting frustrated and turned off on the hobby........be prepared to drop LOTS of money making the car right.
For me, tires and tubes more than five years old need to be replaced, but then again I drive my car about ten times more often than the average collector. Ask yourself this question.......can you go out into the garage and take ANY car out on a tour right now? No excuses, just jump in and drive? Currently I have 18 big pre war cars sorted, and ready to go down the road NOW. It’s a full time job keeping them all sorted, maintained, and detailed. Ever try and fill sixty tires to the correct air pressure every month, it’s a time consuming job just keeping the tires inflated. How about keeping battery’s fully charged, all the lights and wipers working, the clocks functioning, again the list of items is almost endless. This year on on my fourth flat tire.........with snap ring and painted wheel. Figure ten hours total time fixing the flat, and the paint. I changed out another twelve tires on drop center rims in the last six months.......I’m getting old, and although I managed to do six start to finish in one day, thr next week afterwards I felt like I just walked all three days of Hershey at once.....everything hurt.......I’m not getting any younger!
Please.....do yourself a favor, make your car right before you let it loose.......you enjoyment and pride of ownership will pay a ten times dividend. And, when on the road and you do happen to has a minor issue, you will be familiar with the car, and it will be much easier to make a roadside repair.