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Any ideas for funding a restoration?

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It is tough to go through life without a dream to reach for. A run down 40 or 50 + year old car is cheap and the dream can be attainable. Sometimes that old car helps a lot with how you handle important things.

All the cars I bought through sound financial decisions are gone. The impulse buys are still here.

Bernie

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You make a good point. About 80% of the time a forum (not just this one) will happily promote spending someone else's money. However, I think most of the advice in this thread is pretty good. Ultimately our cars are toys and should never be considered a priority over the more important things in life.

To be fair, it's far from hypocritical: judging from posts and pictures, most people on this forum have already spent their own money.

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The advice to start with making the car street capable is one that does not have to cost a lot of money. How many times have we seen people start by rebuilding the engine, when in fact, the engine runs and can use a simple tune up? A clutch job can be a daunting task, but it's not impossible to do. And most rear axles are solid enough to provide service with as little as a fluid change. Brake lines may need replacement but can be bent by hand if need be, although hand tools to make precise bends are not prohibitive. The big cost is the radiator, but just getting the car running does not require that till the end of this cycle. The bigger cost is having someone else do the work.

The thing about the older cars however is their simplicity in construction and if the project is not over engineered then it can be done within a tight budget. And, if you need to sell a car because of lack of funds, it is easier to move one that does so on it's own power.

But I agree with Mitch. Putting all your funds into any non required vehicle is a recipe for disaster. So here's a plan you might consider: Take $2.00 every day. Put one in an envelope for the bank. Put the other in another envelope for the hobby. 50% of your discretionary $ would be earmarked for savings. Deposit the bank money every time you get $10.00 in the envelope. As you watch that bank statement grow you'll also know automatically what you are investing in the hobby. $2.00 a day is only $14.00 per week. One less dinner out. Brown bag lunch. Skip two packs of cigarettes. Leave the everyday car home and walk to destinations when you can. It's hard, but doable.

There is no rule anywhere that this car needs to look physically better than it already does. In fact, there is a good argument for leaving it in the physical condition it currently enjoys. It is living history! And many people would love to see it in it's current condition, just the way it has aged. Do like Mr. Earl suggested. Load it on a trailer one weekend and take it to one or two shows. You'll be energized by the attention it recieves.

And I can tell you this. IF you have come to love this car, you will regret letting it go. If you simply love it because of it's unique historical perspective, then that is a different story. At some point in your life you could probably get another blackout car from somewhere. But think long and clear about the hole in your garage if you sell a car you have come to love.

John D

Edited by JohnD1956 (see edit history)

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Great advice! I love this car for several reasons that would make it very hard to sell. First, it's one of a kind (as far as anyone has been able to tell, this is the only one left) and if you saw my Willys, I have a desire to be unique. Second, this car represents amazing history when the nation was galvanized around a common cause (mechanization for WWII). Third, the car is about the only good thing to come out of my divorce. And lastly, it represents an era that I wish I had been part of. I'm currently working on DMV to provide the provenance for this car from their archives. Originally I was told DMV didn't have records, only to find out through an inside contact that a history on the car could probably be tracked down. I hope to have an answer in the next few months. I love the idea of trailering the car to local shows. Of course, I'd have to get a trailer and truck, but that's doable in the short term. I'd really enjoy putting together an exhibit about the car. I have original literature for the car, an original print block for the advertising, 1942 CA license plates, hood ornaments, etc. I could really do a cool educational piece about the car to show its significance. I think that would be fun, plus it would get me acquainted with the car show circuit!

Regarding it's condition, the motor lost oil pressure in the late 60's, thats why it was parked. The owner before me drove the car after replacing the oil pump, but apparently that didn't solve the problem. I think it has something to do with the bearings in which case I really don't want to attempt the run the car without rebuilding the motor. I would hate to ruin a #'s matching block. I've tried the brakes while moving the car around, I know they work. The tranny, no clue...but the clutch disengages. Electrical is shot, needs tons of body work...I mean, in light of all that I figure what option do I have but to wait until I save enough money to pull the body off, go through the drivetrain, plop the body back on, wire it to run...cruise the block a few times, start electrical and body work. That seems like the logical next step...

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My car has been a long-term goal. When I had my first 55 Buick 2dr sedan Special back in the early 70’s I already new that someday I wanted a 55 Century 2dr hardtop. After raising a family etc. etc. I found the car at a good price and then started a Buick fund. I took all the $ I received from side jobs and stuck it in the account (A real bank account, not in a cookie jar so you can steal it from yourself) I repainted 3 vintage farm tractors and made about $3000.00 I purchased 2 project/junk 55 Buicks and parted them out for a profit of about $2000.00. I picked up an Opel Gt and parted it out and made $1500. This is all over a span of several years. At this time I was just going to fix it up and drive it. Then I realized I had to have a new 1955 Buick. That is also when I realized I did not have even close to enough $ to complete the project.

In 2004 I started a home inspection business. It was a slow start but after the first few years I made enough to start helping fund the Buick project. I put in a lot of hours working as a mechanic at a Bobcat dealer and running the home inspection business. If I had to do it over I think I would have looked for a good solid original car and just enjoyed it. (Maybe) I really enjoy the restoration process even though it can be frustrating sometimes. And as far as a time frame of finishing the car; it will be done when it is done. Mud

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OK Jared: One thing I forgot to mention is the fact that I never had a mentor in the car hobby, that is, someone to take my hand and help me put things in a healthy perspective for myself. I had lots of people more than willing to stick me their piece of junk, and I had a mentor in the used car business from which I had a 30 year career.........but I never had that person to guide me with these old cars.

I could see a 5 year old car come in on a trade-in and I'd know what it was worth, I had a vision for it and I was able to turn it over for a profit. No problem. An old car? Forget it. My emotions are out of control...like a 15 year old boy in a 61 year old body. When a certain cars have come my way I have had a history of struggling to say no, I struggle to put it into perspective and I can easily spend money recklessly.

So.........do you have that special person who can guide you and help you make good decisions concerning this type of endeavor, what ever it may be? Mitch

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My car has been a long-term goal. When I had my first 55 Buick 2dr sedan Special back in the early 70’s I already new that someday I wanted a 55 Century 2dr hardtop. After raising a family etc. etc. I found the car at a good price and then started a Buick fund. I took all the $ I received from side jobs and stuck it in the account (A real bank account, not in a cookie jar so you can steal it from yourself) I repainted 3 vintage farm tractors and made about $3000.00 I purchased 2 project/junk 55 Buicks and parted them out for a profit of about $2000.00. I picked up an Opel Gt and parted it out and made $1500. This is all over a span of several years. At this time I was just going to fix it up and drive it. Then I realized I had to have a new 1955 Buick. That is also when I realized I did not have even close to enough $ to complete the project.

In 2004 I started a home inspection business. It was a slow start but after the first few years I made enough to start helping fund the Buick project. I put in a lot of hours working as a mechanic at a Bobcat dealer and running the home inspection business. If I had to do it over I think I would have looked for a good solid original car and just enjoyed it. (Maybe) I really enjoy the restoration process even though it can be frustrating sometimes. And as far as a time frame of finishing the car; it will be done when it is done. Mud

These stories make me feel a hell of a lot better about my own progress and money. There are so many gorgeous cars on here, with such professional work done and so much money sunk into them that it's easy to feel a little bit out of my league and like the work and money ahead are impossible. It's good to get regular reminders that the job can be done one nibble at a time.

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Jared,

One thing to always remember........Life is gonna get in the way from time to time. I was making what I would consider to be leaps and bounds, working on my 47 RM convertible. Then life decided I needed to stop working on it for 3 or so months because of health reasons. I'm just about ready to head full bore, right back into it over the winter. Hopefully I'll be able to see paint before it gets too cold and snow flies. Little bites are the only way to eat an elephant. Not my quote, but I learned that from an wise old man many years ago. If you can do something well, like upholstery, tune-ups, mowing grass, delivering papers, etc. Let that be your car fund building place and don't take from it unless it's for the car. Just my 2 cents, cause that's all I can afford with Hershey coming up. Gotta have all the money for there............just in case I find something I gotta have for the car. Matt

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Jared, since I'm in the middle of my restoration, I'll tell you what I know. I checked your other thread and you car is in very similar condition as mine was.

First, what level of restoration do you want? To pay a shop to do a high show-level frame off complete restoration will cost $100,000+ easy. If you think it is worth that to you, this is where your question about funding/doing it in parts comes into play. Do you have somewhere to keep it while it's in parts? Do you have somewhere to keep the parts? Believe me, you need more space than you think when it's in pieces. If you can at least take it apart yourself, that would help. Of course many shops would rather take it apart simply because it's easier to put back together when you are familiar with how it comes apart.

I have done my restoration in stages. I am going on 3 years. I have a VERY tight budget (I make 40k a year a support a family of 4). I do what I can when I can, and I'm in no hurry. I took on my project with the intent of having a great show-quality driver one day. Making money was not important to me. I knew my car was never going to be worth much. I have the most important piece though, a father who knows it all, has all the tools and space I could ever need, and who is completely particular about everything. Without him, my car would be in pieces still.

In any case, here are the basic procedures we have done:

1. Take the car completely apart, while organizing all parts and taking tons of photos, tons, you can't take enough. Once that is done you have your frame.

2. Sandblast and paint the frame (along with any other non-body parts that need to be sandblasted)

3. Start putting parts back on the frame (front end, rear end, brakes, other pieces that go on the frame but aren't connected to the engine)

4. Engine and transmission

5. start body panels (that's kinda where I am now)

6. body work/paint

7. interior

8. wheels/tires, etc

Each of these steps have some smaller parts, and every time you think you have what you need for a task, you have to order or clean something else. You have to do everything 5 times. You put on and take off the same parts 5 times. Every time you do, you learn and get better.

I hope this helps. You are young and have time. I strongly encourage you to do as much as you can yourself. It's not easy, none of it is, but it is very educational, fun (usually) and something to be proud of. You have to stay the course. You need someone to encourage you when you get less excited about it from time to time. Every day I work on the car I always think about the people who look at cars at shows and have no clue what it really takes to do it. That's the reward and satisfaction. It's a great hobby with great people.

Edited by 39BuickEight (see edit history)

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Blackout, this might be a stretch but you could run a kickstarter project and offer rides in the car or free movie set time for production companies or unique 8x10 photos of the ol girl as rewards. I successfully did a kickstarter campaign to fund my art studio construction in my backyard and offered various pieces of art as rewards. PM if you are interested and I can give you more info and ideas or visit kickstarter.com. I've been going on 10 years with my junked '53 and it's just now seeing the light. I agree with others, spend a little on it to get her roadworthy and enjoy it while you periodically fix other things here and there. Don't give up!

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Jared,

I had another thought. Maybe you can go to the local high school and see if they need a project car to work on in the auto body shop. Perhaps they will perform some of the body prep and rust repair work for a minimal investment, or gratis. They usually need donor cars and yours would be a unique item for them to work on. Hey, it's worth a shot!

With all due respect, this can be a good option, but it can also be a very problematic option. My observations have been that high school auto shop situations are very highly dependent upon the instructor and the amount of control/motivation they might have over their students . . . a key thing. I've also seen some really nice, original cars donated to these programs, for instructional purposes, which ended up being ready for the junk yard in a few years. NOBODY cared about the car or keeping it nice as they took things apart and put them back together, it seemed.

Perhaps a better option would be to yourself enroll in a local junior college auto shop/body program. After a few semesters with your "class project", you could have an operational vehicle! I've known of guys who enrolled in these classes to learn how to do their own paint and body work, for example, going to night classes while keeping their normal "day job". Not all junior colleges have these programs, but some of the more vocational-oriented ones do. Otherwise, you might find something like one of the automotive-specific schools, where you could take night classes . . . but these might also be more oriented toward late model vehicles as they usually try to train their students to work on what they might work on after they graduate from school.

I knew of ONE high school auto body/shop class that was excellent. The instructor kept his students motivated, which was important. They did some "customer" work and also some class projects, too. In this situation, the fact the instructor was into Chrysler muscle cars (which they got to work on in class) helped, too. The first time we saw the instructor was when he and a student brought a '63 Valiant convertible to one of our yearly Mopar club shows. It was a rolling chassis that was well on its way to a full restoration, having been rescued from a chicken coup. Next year, it drove it, with several students walking beside it. They were proud of what they'd done, which was great. The instructor demanded complete excellence in what they did . . . and they did it. If not, they did it over until he was satisfied with their work . . . no matter what. I suspect that program took a big hit when the instructor retired a few years ago. These successful programs are very much about the chemistry and related motivation of the instructor and the students, typically.

Just some observations,

NTX5467

Edited by NTX5467 (see edit history)

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Blacktop,

You are getting lots of good advice here. There is one small piece I would like to offer. It seems obvious that you would do an engine rebuild first since yours does not run. I would wait. It will be expensive to do it properly, even if you can do the work yourself. Then the freshy rebuilt engine will sit in the car as you try to find the time and the money to make the rest of the car driveable. If you want to keep it, consider buying a used running engine or engine/trans that will bolt it to your car from a car someone is rodding out. These sell on ebay for next to nothing. Usually the rodders can't give them away. (Something like this little $350 gem currently on ebay. I don't know if '50 263 will bolt up to a '42 trans, but you get the idea.http://www.ebay.com/itm/Buick-motor-straight-eight-263-/190733820350?pt=Motors_Car_Truck_Parts_Accessories&hash=item2c689f21be&vxp=mtr) Then, carefully store your original/numbers matching engine until you are finished with the car. Then have it rebuilt. In the meantime, you will have your running, driving blackout '42 you can enjoy.

Have fun!

Dwight

P.S. Spend an afternoon sanding the car's finish smooth. Don't try get rid of the rust. Just sand it real smooth. Wash off all the dust (water is OK) Let it dry and use a brush to apply two or three coats of rust converter. Buy a gallon of satin black paint (tractor inplement paint at a farm supply place $29.95 + some reducer. Read the label for how much for spraying), buy a $29.95 HVLP gun, some masking tape and respirator (not a dust mask) and go to it! $150 and a week end's work and when you show your pride and joy to your friends they will start saying COOL! instead of UGH! You can get the $20,000 paint job after you install the $5,000 rebuilt engine!

Edited by Dwight Romberger (see edit history)

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You have received some pretty good advice from people with lots of experience. Off the cuff there are a few more you could try.

(1) start a successful internet business and make millions.

(2) marry a rich woman

(3) get a fake PHD, get a much better job.... when they catch on quit and get another better job.

Hope this helps.

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Well since I dont have any of those 3 I just went out today and purchased tonights winning lottery ticket. Thats the only way I will ever finish all of my projects.

You have received some pretty good advice from people with lots of experience. Off the cuff there are a few more you could try.

(1) start a successful internet business and make millions.

(2) marry a rich woman

(3) get a fake PHD, get a much better job.... when they catch on quit and get another better job.

Hope this helps.

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