Hooniverse Asks: Why are you stalling on your project car build?

I’ve owned my 1984 Mercedes-Benz 300TD for over four years now. In fact, I think we’re arrived at year five of ownership. I’m not sure though, because every day the calendar turns over and I am reminded that I haven’t driven my wagon in hundreds and hundreds of days.
Progress is about to occur. There’s news ahead. Change is coming to The Wombat. But it’s taken a very long time to get here and I have a lengthy list of excuses as to why it’s taking so long.
I know why my project car is taking so long, but that’s not what this post is about. I want to know why your project build is taking so long. What’s your excuse?
Sound off below…


  1. Well, my 1977 Corvette has been off the road since 1996. I have moved houses and garages a couple of times. If I do have time to work on it (unemployed), I don’t have any money. Even when I am employed, I really don’t have that much extra money. At this point it needs an engine rebuild (jumped timing at about 125k, that’s why it got parked), transmission rebuild, new mufflers (blew out with a back fire due to off timing), and probably a new interior. I did buy a complete 400 small block, that had a bad block, for it a couple of years ago that I can use the crank to make a 383 and use the intake and carb. I’m hoping that maybe my daughter will be motivation to get it running. Maybe for when she turns 16. She turned 7 this month.

    1. I have two daughters 10 & 7, and once they are of legal driving age, I think proposing that they drive the T/A will be more useful as a threat than an incentive.
      “For punishment, you will smell like a poorly run refinery upon arrival at school until further notice.”
      Mine tend to get into irreconcilable conflict with each other (and Mrs. Neight) precisely when I finally get my hand wedged into position to get a tiny nut or bolt started, but before actually being able to start threading it on.

  2. Wife. Kids. Life.
    When we were house shopping 11 years ago, my priorities were a sizable bit of land and either a big f’ing garage or a barn. My wife wanted proximity to good schools, sidewalks, and a cul-de-sac. Guess who won?
    I have two minor restorations and two full-blown restomod projects on hold in storage, and one classic daily driver sitting on the street in need of some attention. My garage is full of bicycles, scooters, basketballs, sleds, and my wife’s Volvo. Yes, life is good, but damn, is it tough on the car hobby.

    1. Also, I’m glad to hear the Wombat is warming under new fire. I need to live vicariously through someone’s project!

          1. What are your requirements? Both are pretty amazing vehicles. On the Volvo front, I am a bit contrary to general internet wisdom and prefer the older ones to the newer ones, so much so that 140 > 240. There’s not much to do wrong with those though.
            /cubist car lover that drives a drop shaped minivan for recognizable reasons

          2. Wow, I guess there’s good reason for that – these are keepers! I’m still angry with myself for not getting a decent 145 Ekspress a couple of years ago…maybe the local Volvo club will know of a few fitting vehicles?

        1. Interesting that I can see Jeff’s text comment on the mobile version of the site, but not on the desktop. Not sure if that is a Disqus glitch or some sort of double-nought ninja edit or somesuch.
          Sounds effing awesome if I am interpreting it correctly. There’s considerable charm in these vehicles, none of which is attributable to the lump of iron between the fenders.

          1. I’ve had similar issues. I’ve found I have to manually refresh my desktop page if I want to see updates. If I just bring up the page (even anew), it might not be current.

          2. Oops, looks like I forgot I was logged into my “professional” Disqus account. Guess my secret identity is out. 😛

    2. Yep. This. I would love to go home every night and head into the workshop. But there’s something else I need to address first if I have any hope of considering myself a responsible adult.

      1. Exactly. My bachelor days of devoting evenings and weekends to projects ended with the sperm-egg union. The opportunity cost was ultimately worthwhile, as I love being a parent and husband, but I sorely miss the freedom of my workshop garage.

  3. Project house and maintaining a bunch of fully depreciated shitboxes consume the time I’d allocate to my three project cars. It’s not going to change soon. I’ve decided to build a shop after I dispose of project house. Maybe then I can get to the business of restoring cars.

  4. Raccoons. When we bought the house, the inspector told us that our detached garage was a teardown. For some reason I still parked the 928 in there and broke the engine down to pieces, and now the raccoons have taken over. And a mortal fear of baylisascaris has kept me out of there. Luckily the engine is in the basement.
    I still check the interior every once in a while to make sure they haven’t gotten in, and the engine bay wire harnesses are with the rest of the engine in the house. One of these days I’m going to wheel it out and put it back together, then finally burn the garage to the ground. It’s the only way to be sure.
    Asking for a friend, how long could I theoretically keep a 50/50 mixture of xylene and ethanol on an enamel paint finish before it’s trashed?

    1. Raccoons in the wild are kinda cool. In your house or garage, they suck. We had one in our attic last year and it was a pain to remove.
      Are you asking about xylene/ethanol as a paint stripper? If so, it might take an hour or more. In “the old days”, methylene chloride would eat it up in 15 minutes.

      1. Some lab figured out that the xylene and ethanol combo immediately kills the roundworm larvae. I want to dip my car in it.

  5. I’ve definitely stalled out on several projects, but the “why” is both simple and complex. The simple is that I procrastinate. The complex comes in that I’m not directly procrastinating on the projects, but rather the myriad “more important” things I have to do. There is a psychological roadblock to working on what I want to, while there is a “have to” that I am ignoring. I’ll never clear my to-do list, so waiting until I have nothing more important to do will ensure that I never finish a project.
    While it hasn’t borne fruit yet, I’m experimenting with a reward system allowing me to do some of what I want when I do some of what I need. Hopefully, this results in more progress on both fronts.

    1. I’m in sort of the same shape. I can’t imagine the hell I would catch from the spouse if I spent a whole day working on the Corvette instead of: fixing the hole in the drywall, cleaning the junk out of the garage, installing the new bathroom faucet, fixing the door thresholds, fixing the paint on the doors scratched by the dogs, pressure washing the back porch, washing the car, completing the reassembly of the pump house, fixing the light bulb in the chandelier, filling in the holes that the dogs dug in the yard, fixing my daughters swing set, etc, etc., etc…….

      1. I allow myself to have no more than three projects at a given time, usually just one or two. For any project that I elevate to current status, I have to put in some time each day, even if it’s only ten minutes. It helps me feel better if things are moving forward, no matter how slowly.

  6. kept buying third cars, then sold all but the Volvo project (it’s a perpetual rolling project) and moved to LA. now I’m finishing up a few-months build of my new NA Miata DD/track toy, and that will be my only car as I begin work on the Volvo again.
    in fairness to myself: after buying one of my third-car follies, I did the work I’d *thought* was needed on the Volvo. turns out that wasn’t it. I have no excuse for what happened after I sold that and bought another third car. my garage here is smaller and shared with another person, so I may explore reconfiguring it a bit, but I’m renting and not sure the landlords will be okay with it.
    but this time there’s a hard deadline: I have six months left on the registration and there’s no way in he’ll the car is passing in its current state (billowing clouds of oil smoke, aftermarket intake, no catalytic converter, 3″ stainless turbo-back exhaust). so I’m hopeful there’s sufficient motivation here.

  7. My project wasn’t supposed to be much of a project, I thought my tinkering would be largely limited to fixing stuff that breaks and modifying when convenient while driving and enjoying. It ran not great but ok when I bought it, but the initial tune-up revealed a locked out distributor with no advance that when replaced revealed an engine that would not live on pump gas alone unless you liked the issues associated with 12 degrees of distributor advance and no more. This cascaded through a band aid fix until I budgeted for a set of aluminum heads for the 428, which have sat in the trunk for the last three months waiting on shop space to open up. Theoretically, my original plan is but a few months from fruition, but I’m pessimistic.
    Life intervening between critical path steps was another concern, consistent with others’ experiences.

      1. Potentially, but the hour round trip to the nearest station that sells it along with its long-term availability ultimately steered me away from that option. I had a water/methanol injection system on it for a while, but tuning that was a faith based exercise.

  8. For the short version, poor prioritisation and some decisions that would be different with hindsight, and some good old life getting in the way.
    The big issue at the moment is the impending loss of storage, which should have been on my radar when I bought my place over 10 years ago – not a big enough garage and no space to build one.

    1. My attitude to life is so cheap, that, when we bought the house, I didn’t even consider I’d own a ‘fine enough’-classic precipitating the need of a garage. Now that I don’t fix cars myself, really, I’m getting nowhere trying to find out what to do. Our garage would hold a smaller 60s classic, bur it’s always full without any car in it.

  9. My garage is big enough to work in, but it takes planning. The main problem is that the driveway is short, downhill and turns into an alley, and steep enough that you can’t easily roll a dead car out. Parking is limited in my neighborhood as well, and it’s getting more scarce with development. So, it’s mostly running restorations for me, but rather than stalling on a long-term inop project car, it’s stalling on the next thing that needs attention in my herd of three.
    On that note, my Volvo 240 turbo wagon is really coming together nicely, and is making a great daily driver. But, I do need to have that patch panel welded in on the rear floor before winter sets in. Yeah, yeah, I’ll get to it.

    1. PS: Not having a back forty or pole barn for vehicle storage is what keeps me from amassing a bigger herd, joining the vast legions of the Beached Whale Club. But I can dream.

      1. Yeah, I currently have 3-1/2 acres. Occupying the yard right now are the following non-functional motorized vehicles: A Massey Furgeson tractor (my parents, last ran in the late 1980s/early 1990s, would have to cut down trees to move it.), a 1996 Polarix SL1050 (blown engine, need to part out.), a 1980 something bass boat with a 140HP Chrysler outboard (rotting under the barn siding that fell down, my dad’s old boat, last run about 2003), a 1960 something Craftsman lawnmower (last run in 2001), a 1977 Corvette (last run in 1996). Not to mention a double axle flat bed trailer for the tractor that probably last moved in 1985 and a camper top for a 1973 Chevy pickup truck. The Corvette is the only one that the wife doesn’t complain about.

    2. Is there a way to follow your 240TW build, or could you post occasional updates here? I’m getting little opportunity to turn wrenches lately, so I need a digital fix.

      1. I posted some comments amounting to a build thread on my wagon several months back, usually in the “last call” open comment posts (can’t remember what those were titled). I suspect they’d be easy enough to find through a search.
        But lately? Let’s see… I installed a genuine Volvo ambient road temperature gauge last week, which is helping me remember my Celsius scale. Mostly useless, but quite cool. I now have Bluetooth in the car, along with four nice door speakers and a hidden amp (though it didn’t bother me to just listen to the engine before). I finally polished the rest of the black finish, it’s all shiny again still but retains that patina that a veteran car should have (I love single stage paint). And, new reproduction window scrapers on all four doors to keep the rain out.
        The real work on the car was done last year and the fall prior to that, now I get to indulge in making it nice and tinkering over the details. But, the rear suspension bushings will eventually need attention, so that will get me back under it again, probably later this fall.

  10. I have a single parking spot in a condo garage, and limited storage.. Also, I’m a horrible procrastinator. I did recently finally get around to disassembling the bike (and throwing a drop cloth over it so I don’t piss off the neighbours too much), but right now I’m mostly simultaneously struggling with both getting the carb reattached, and getting the rear fender off (to figure out why one of the turn signals doesn’t work.

  11. I had my 65 Elan off the road for many years. The first time I started to work on it I moved to Texas. Then years later I started to work on it again, added up all the money and bought another Elan and almost identical twin . Mean while the first one went on to it’s new owner and reborn in much better form than I could ever do.

  12. This year… no excuses. I’ve taken a year off sports and other extra curricular activities. No football (soccer for you North Americans), no squash (similar to racket ball for you North Americans), no Mountain Biking… And, I married well. My wife has no issues with me getting into the garage most weekends. So my Lotus 7 Kit Car having been on a slow burn for six years should be on the road by this Christmas. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/f0a6e5549666ba49bf1f925868697850d574247aa07d2aeb9d0b60c65fceb96f.jpg

  13. I’ve been working on an off on a ’58 Sunbeam Alpine. I bought it as a basket case and it’ll be getting a half-bridgeported 12A rotary. It didn’t have most of the brake system, so I’m converting it to Mustang II spindles, Granada rotors, and GM metric calipers up front, an Explorer rear disc axle, and a C3 Corvette master cylinder. I disassembled the front suspension to swap spindles and found out Series 2 Alpines don’t have lower ball joints. There’s a guy working on a Mustang II conversion crossmember, but he hasn’t put them up for sale yet. I have some ideas to get the project back on track, but I had a large maple tree fall in my back yard, and I’ve spent a lot of my free time cutting firewood and running brush through the wood chipper. Then both my sons wrecked their cars this spring and they didn’t have the money to have them fixed, so I took them each to Pull-A-Part and we rebuilt their cars ourselves. Now I’m trying to get my 24 Hours of Lemons car in competitive condition.

  14. One way to keep activity going on a project car is to make it your daily driver. The RSX gets worked on because I need it to get to work on Monday.
    Of course that, and house projects, means that the T’bird doesn’t get much love.

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