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Corvair Car Restoration: Why Many Fail

Updated on October 5, 2009

Inspect. Assess. Repair. Surprises.

Any car or Corvair car restoration will inevitably involve all three words after you find the classic or vintage car you want. Inspection has already happened to a certain degree on a more cursory level when you considering the car to buy. Assessment also had occurred, again on a cursory level as you just don't have the time for a thorough examination. However, based on the info available, you buy the car you want to restore. You either drive it home, tow it home or it is shipped to your home.

Now, it happens all once again but thoroughly.

This becomes the revelation time, the price you pay for making only a cursory look. This may be the first of many considerations that makes you think, "I am over my head" or, "Shit, how did I miss that!" well, heck, it's too late now! You continue inspecting the critical parts of the car making a list. These are elements that need immediate attention to make the car operational at a basic level, after all, the reason why you bought the old car is to restore it to when it was in its prime, sort of like, turning an old man into his shining prime again. After your inspection, you assess the costs in parts and in your time to make the repair or will you have to let someone else do it who has the expertise.

It is the assessment stage that can kill any restoration hope before they begin. Maybe the repairs are way more extensive than you thought, AKA, one thing leads to another! Maybe you thought your own expertise was sufficient but now it is "maybe not". Then, there is the time issue. If you are like most, this "car restoration" is a project to keep you busy on weekends, maybe involved your teenage kid, and the car is parked on the driveway or in a field waiting for TLC. Making time assessments on old mechanical things is laughable. What the "book" states in the amount of time it should take to remove something, sometimes is made complicated by rust, which makes everything harder and more expensive. What should take only an hour, ends up taking all day! Another part of assessment is car parts. Do they exist? where do you find them? how much of a hit in terms of money will it be? How long will take to get them?

And then there is real life. Many car restorations fail because things change over time and restoring a car to its prime takes a lot of it. Soon, if you have spent every weekend on the car, your girlfriend, wife, lover, kids, neighbor will start a rant about, "all you ever do is work on the old car". The sad thing is, it is true. So, you take a break from it, and if you do it enough, soon, the appeal and motivation that sucked you into the noble effort, fade. Fade away, until you begin to look at the old car in a more negative light. Now, it is only partially restored and there remains so much more. You sigh and reassess the whole damn project. Now you think in terms of what you are trying to accomplish, or, is the effort worth it just to have a classic car you drive once a week around the block to keep it going. What happens if you have to move? lose your job? cannot find a critical part? Hey, it only takes a missing critical part to make the car just sitting metal amongst the weeds and home to raccoons.

Even cars that are partially restored take time and money to complete. Usually these cars cost more, but you at least have one where it is operational and needs only non-critical restoration. Even these will present you with enough problems and consume your time to be subject to rants and complaints from loved ones.

But really, car restoration fails usually because the buyer has lost motivation and interest that once sparked their life. The hurdles to the goal have become simply too much for the buyer's own personal situation that the best option is to sell. It maybe be a lack of funds, personal relationships, unavailability of parts, or poor assessment of the car's condition. Usually all of these reasons play a role.


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