Hooniverse Asks: How do you reinvigorate your love for a project?

I haven’t been very good to the Stormtrooper 4Runner lately. Alright, that’s not entirely true, since I installed new suspension recently and did a lot of upkeep/repainting (more on that in the coming weeks). But truthfully, in the last 7 weeks I’ve driven the truck once. It sits outside alone in the cold, staring longingly into the woods wishing for a more eventful life. In the same way that I occasionally stare longingly at the Stormtrooper 4Runner wishing I had more time to spend using it for what I bought it for.

As much as it can suck, projects sometimes fall to the wayside. Life and things of a higher priority simply get in the way of what isn’t your primary vehicle. And not just that, but your finding out that a specific project requires more time, effort, and maintenance than you care to invest at that given moment doesn’t exactly help.

Suddenly you find yourself out of love with a vehicle you once were head-over-heels for. It hits you all at once, and you can’t shake the feeling that you could be better investing that time, money, and effort elsewhere.

That’s the case with my 2005 Toyota 4Runner. The truck I once promised to keep forever, I’ve lately found myself thinking about getting rid of in favor of something I can enjoy more frequently. Since buying a 5th gen 4Runner to soak up my ~100 mile daily commute (introduction coming soon), the 4th gen truck has done little more than sit. And so, I find myself browsing the classifieds ads, hunting through Craigslist and other For Sale sections in an effort to swap it for something else. But it’s not so simple. I bought the truck to be an off-road weekend toy and barely used it as such last year. This year is likely more of the same, possibly even less. Who knows about next year. But deep down I know I’d miss it in some way, shape or form if I sold it. So here I am, at a crossroads.

And so I bid everyone’s help. What do you do to fall back in love with a project? Use it for its intended use (which I sadly cannot do as of late due to the weather)? Modify it in some other way for the sake of spending time around it and bringing up memories? Put your tail between your legs and sell it and move on? For the first time I find myself in such a position of questioning a project vehicle’s future in my life, and am seeking the advice of those who have been in the same position in the past.

Sound off in the Comments… and help me reinvigorate my love for a truck I once loved.

About Ross Ballot

Host of the Off the Road Again Podcast. 4WD and four-wheeling enthusiast and expert. Formula 1 fanatic. Contributor to Hooniverse, ATVRider.com, UTVDriver.com, and Everyday Driver. Usually found getting a vehicle stuck in the mud or on the rocks and loving every second of it.

20 Comments

  1. Lately I’ve been taking the approach that things don’t really keep moving when I try everything myself and there’s no shame in farming out the work. I only have so much time/energy and at this time of year without a garage – daylight.

  2. Go out and drive it a few times more. See if it sparks something again. Just sitting and thinking about it isn’t the best way to go about it.

    1. The snow was quicker than you… I’ll go and buy thinsulated wrenching gloves today, so I can adjust the derailleurs of our two-wheeled fleet, because I have to. [same face]

      1. Funny, I just went crazy in a bike shop that had a 70% foreclosure sale. Most of my bicycles are old and I found a fair bit of semi-obscure parts (like an entire new gearline for my 3-7 Bergamont Fluxus, last proper steel bike, bought of my own money when I was 16).

  3. I’m in exactly the same situation with my E28, so I completely understand. I have a list of repairs I need to make should I decide to sell it in the spring, and I’m hoping that wrenching on the car and getting it back into prime condition will be the spark I need to rekindle the flame.

  4. Fix something that is wrong with it, whereupon you will uncover whatever it is that you must fix next, then convince yourself that it will be enjoyable perfection and/or you will sell it once the next step is complete. Repeat ad infinitum.

  5. Sadly, the MOST effective way to reinvigorate your love for a project is to sell it. Maybe (?) the second is to help a buddy for a weekend on a project that he is really grooving on. Sometimes having a wrench in your hand on a problem that isn’t yours does something.

  6. Step 1: Park it in a garage for a few years, then move it to a different garage, then a different one, then again, sometimes returning to an earlier garage, and so forth. The garages can belong to family, friends, or even perhaps yourself. Pro tip: It’s okay for the garages to be separated by hundreds of miles.

    Step 2: I’ve only been working on the previous step for about three decades with this car, so I’m not yet sure about the next step. I’ll let you know.

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/d7bf21b41ebdf94af2c366782a44ab111492a04c9e8f68514d9bb20482673e68.jpg

    1. Moved my “one day” project car for the first time in about 16 years the other week. Only about 5 feet, to be sure it will roll when I shift it to a different shed next weekend.

      Mind you my fallback plan for when I move it next, which will be soon, is take it to a panel beater. That day might actually come.

  7. 1. Buy project.
    2. Think about starting on the project next weekend.
    3. Repeat step 2. Occasionally repeat step 1.
    4. Commit to project by entering a show/race/whatever will require certain progress to be made before the date of the event.
    5. Think about starting it next weekend.
    6. Repeat step 5.
    7. Three weeks before the sate of the event (or possibly longer depending on the scope of work still remaining), this is where the invigoration begins. Make the completion of the project your only priority. Sleep is for babies.
    8. Show up with pride on event day. After you get a good night’s rest, you’ll think about everything you intended to do but forgot about. But that won’t be until tomorrow.

    1. No power required on down hill stretches, and no brakes required on uphill stretches, so it averages out.

  8. Best way to make sure you keep interest in a project, is to make sure you choose the right project to begin with. Plan, plan, plan. I have found it important to engage in a project that you know you have the skills (and resource$) to complete. If you are great with mechanical stuff, but weak on bodywork, don’t get a rusty car! Starting with a “let’s see” attitude is a huge mistake.

    Another key element is understanding your motivation for choosing a particular project. Is it the car you have always dreamed of owning/driving? Is it just like the one your Dad drove? These are GREAT motivators! If you considering an old, un-loved four-door because it is cheap to buy?…no so good.

    Once work has begun, I have found it important to keep each stage of the project manageable. If any stage goes past a few months, then you are in trouble. In my case, I did body/paint to completion, then interior, then mechanical, and finally, electrical. Yes, there is overlap, of course…so you need to think ahead to put wires in the body, etc….

    I try very heard to keep the vehicle easily movable within my garage as much as possible. Once it is laid up without all four wheels down, or with engine out, it is easier to lose interest. I don’t know why exactly, but this has been consistent in all my projects.

  9. I let my friend drive my eternal project, which I’ve always been reluctant to do, and his surprise and delight reminded me of all the things I like about it. that one ten minute drive really made me excited to get into the big overhaul I’ve been putting off for years. two months later I’m knee deep in parts and can’t wait to get the car back on the road.

    it’s hard to admit that “I want other people to think my car is cool” is a valid motivation, but it’s totally legit once you put aside the cliches about “doing your own thing for yourself” . sometimes seeing others appreciate your car is the motivation you need.

    take the truck offroading with ya bois, let them wheel it around in the mud, and you’ll be reminded of why your truck is cool. watching them have fun with it will remind you of the fun *you* have with it.

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