Monday, February 3, 2014

Building on a Budget

I am a firm believer that investors ruin everything. From buying items like records to cars to keep for investment purposes, they make prices go up on items that the average person would love to get their hands on. What’s worse, they keep these things locked up in their personal treasure troves. One of the greatest atrocities I ever witnessed was a garage in Malibu stocked with old muscle cars and motorcycles in pristine condition. When inquiring about the last time any of them were driven and to where, the response was that they were for show purposes only. I’m sorry, but keeping a fully restored GTO in a garage, and not on the streets where it could be doing burnouts, should be a ticketable offense. 

So is the life of investors, who see cars as money-making commodities; a means of winning prize money, or selling for profits only to buy more cars, all the while, changing the rules of supply and demand. Soon enough, the Average Joe is now finding rusted piles of junk with no engine, no side panels, completely gutted interiors, and a family of feral cats living under the hood on Craigslist for $2,500 and up. What’s worse is some people are actually willing to spend that kind of money! 

To that I say, thank you for ruining cars, investors. You can go home to your Scrooge McDuck McMansions, jump in your money vaults, and laugh at the fact that you have destroyed project cars for teenagers, hobbyists, and people who just want to put cool old cars back on the streets again. The only thing worse would be to see an investor leave from a Barret Jackson auction after dropping $125,000 on a ’69 Camaro and leave in their Prius. I’m willing to bet that scenario wouldn’t be far from the truth.

So why all the hate on investors? Why not? Actually, this detest of investors has fueled the concept of the Satellite project. Because of the rising costs of project cars, it has become common to see articles about “budget” project cars where the budget actually is about the same as if someone were to just go out and buy a new car. Most of these so-called budget projects are simply buying new parts and dropping them in. Sure, all the shiny new parts are pretty, but spending over $15,000 isn’t really what comes to mind when I think of budget. But somehow, the idea of a restored car costing around $15,000 is considered to be budget by industry standards.

Let’s just say my standards differ grossly. 

When I think budget, I think working on a section of the car in amounts not to exceed $200 at one time. The average person doesn’t usually have $3,000 lying around to drop on a new engine, but they probably can muster up a few bucks after bills and expenses to buy parts to build one. Sure, you can always save up for new engine, but where’s the fun in that? The idea of getting dirty and scavenging junk yards for blocks seems like a more fulfilling experience. Paired with trips to auto supply stores, working in the driveway with a beer in the sunshine with 80’s metal and LA Punk blaring, definitely is a plan for a good time. When looking at a budget build section at a time, where parts cost no more than $200. The game plan is doing as much restoring and rebuilding old parts. In the end, I hope to have a cool car that may not be shiny and a 4-wheeled equivalent an airbrushed supermodel in a magazine, but it definitely will be a good looking average car worthy of driving around proudly. And you can bet I’ll drive the hell out of it once I do finish!

I know, I have a romanticized vision of restoring a car, but that’s not to say it’s unrealistic. I’m sure it is possible to rebuild an awesome car for under $5,000. Essentially, that is the plan for the Satellite: restore it for under $5,000. So far, this is looking like a very obtainable and realistic goal. 

As of now, the game plan will start with the body since it is already disassembled and primed. There is more work needed to clean up some ugly weld jobs and patch up a few holes here and there. That will be followed with another primer job, just to ensure a good working surface. We’re doing it ourselves and relying on some youtube tutorial videos on building paint booths and Hot Rod Magazine’s DIY Backyard Paint Job for tips. I have some friends who are offering to let me borrow some professional painting equipment, so when it's ready to get to that stage, it'll be done fairly cheaply. After that, we’ll start with a simultaneous planning of mechanical, electrical, and interior workings. From what Jesse has said, there’s a lot stuff happening under the hood that will affect how the layout of the interior will go, but I think as soon as we get all that situated, things should start to come together nicely. And so begins the start of what will be a very long, drawn out, but satisfying project.

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