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Hagerty
Hagerty Employee

5 pieces of terrible advice I've been told about project cars | Hagerty Media

Thanks to the advent of the internet, automotive enthusiasts have never had it easier. Finding project cars, parts, and how-to details is downright simple and allows just about anyone with an inkling of passion for cars to join the community. However, it also allows just about anyone to declare themselves as an expert and spew advice far and wide.
https://www.hagerty.com/media/maintenance-and-tech/5-pieces-of-terrible-advice-ive-been-told-about-p...
133 REPLIES 133
TG
Instructor

My well plugs leak on both of my Qjets - i love them anyway. If i leave the car sit for more than 3 days, the bowl is empty - oh well. I took the Holley off and put the Qjet (back) on in one case. I've always said, if your car has a tag on the back, you should be running a spreadbore - if you have a parachute on the back - squarebore
drjim
Detailer

What year Q-Jets are these with leaking well plugs? Were they leaking "Back In The Day" when the carbs were new, or nowadays, after years of use and abuse? I've rebuilt probably a hundred Q-Jets from 1969 through 1980, and never once saw leaking plugs. I keep hearing "The Well Plugs Leak", but I've never seen it. When I was just getting started in this, I ruined a perfectly good Q-Jet body by trying to remove the factory plugs and install a kit "Just In Case".

I'm not doubting you guys or anything, but I swear I've NEVER seen leaking well plugs.

I know, this is an extremely popular "rant topic", but I'm not trying to start anything. I was either very lucky, or else the combination of gasoline and environment back in the 70's when I was doing this prevented it from happening.
Kyle
Moderator

Oh, this is a good one!
TA76
Intermediate Driver

I have repaired several carbs where the well plugs leaked. That said love QJets and agree with you.
Zeissmaster
Pit Crew

Love Q-jets been running them for years. Every time someone walks up and say's "running a Quada Junk huh! I want to slap them upside the head. But then I just think to myself.Yep this guy don't know jack about carburetors.
stevecobb45
Detailer

Some of the things that make sense to convert on older cars are:
1. Generator to alternator.
2. Points to electronic ignition.
3. Bias ply tires to radials.
4. Power glide or TH350 to 700R4 automatic overdrive w/lockup convertor.
5. Front drum brakes to disc brakes.
6. Incandescent headlights to Halogen or LED.
7. Rubber control arm bushings to Poly urethane.
8. Power steering slave cylinder to power rack & pinion.
I mention these because they make your ride more reliable, safer & more economical to operate. Who car argue with that?
Rider79
Instructor

As a previous owner of a Powerglide (28 years), I would say that, unless one drives their classic car a LOT, drag races a lot, and/or wants to install a low rear-end gear but still keep RPM down on the highway, a Powerglide works just fine.

I can't argue with most of the other points, but I never had a problem with the power recirculating ball on my low-miles 1968 Impala; the steering even had at least a little feel. How would rack-and-pinion have really helped? Nor did I have any problem with the 4-wheel manual drum brakes; they were easily modulated. As the author says, if one can lock the wheels and slide the tires with drums, discs are not really going to help much, unless one plans a lot of mountain driving - or puts on much bigger tires.
TA76
Intermediate Driver

Your logic on 6-8 does not hold up. Led lights on an older car in some states is illegal. halogen's are expensive. robber is still used and works as good or in some case better than pu. Again rack and pinion is ok but not cost effect,
pS works great. jmho



ps
DT
Detailer

Same old things as always. A guy has been waiting his whole life to get The Family taken care of and finally get his piece of heaven out in the garage. You spend years at car shows looking and hopefully learning a little about what YOU really want out of the hobby and Drop The Hammer. It's easy to get overly enthusiastic and want to put all of that time studying into something you can actually touch/feel. Knowledge is Power, You are Drunk With Power. Enjoy yourself. You earned it 🙂 Take everything else with a grain of salt .
TG
Instructor

I am a solid YES on the drum to disc conversion... being in the process of one myself.
In addition from converting from drum to disc, you are usually converting from a single circuit brake system to a dual circuit system. The safety benefits of front discs and dual circuit brakes are worth the <1K price tag. And me personally - I HATE changing drum brakes
On the NO side - DO NOT TAKE THE BODY OFF THE FRAME. unless you are a professional restorer - leave the body alone. you can change body mounts without removing the body, you can change 90% of the body panels, so on and so forth. I know three people who removed the body from the frame. Only one got it back on again - 15 years later
ConfuciusRacing
Intermediate Driver

I guess I'll be "that' guy...on the subject of: brakes...NOT necessarily. Here's why:
I owned a 63, 64 GS and 65 Buick Riviera, not all at once but successively, basically the same car...they had the most amazing drum brakes, gigantic aluminum fins for cooling about a billion square inches of surface area...this was a right heavy car too folks, like 4500 lbs and these cars could accelerate.
Totally didn't need discs...newer for the sake of it isn't better, if the original is engineered properly.
audiobycarmine
Advanced Driver

My Dad had a '67 Buick Electra 225; a heavy car if ever there was one.
I was learning to drive at the time, and usually drove my Mom's car.
The first time I touched the brakes in the Buick, Dad and I both almost went through the windshield. Drums not good enough? Hell yeah, they are.
petersalt
Intermediate Driver

Well-engineered Drum brakes can stop ONCE or twice just as well as any disc setup. Disc brakes are far superior in dissipating heat from repeated hard braking such as on a high-speed road course with many speed straights and hard corners between them.
CraigCopple
Pit Crew

When I initially purchased my 68 GTO a few years ago, my immediate plan was to do a drum to disc conversion. Instead, I installed a booster along with a drum brake overhaul kit and they work great. No longer feel like I’m trying to stop a semi.
Ajakeski
Intermediate Driver

Let an old car be what it is, an old car. That is what makes it interesting.
If you want new, modern tech, buy something newer.
DT
Detailer

Let your car be what you want it to be and don't let anybody else tell you what it should be. Some like survivors, other resto's, drivers etc. just try to enjoy it as much as you can whatever your passion is. Sometimes that is as simple as just pulling up a seat in front of it and contemplating lifes little mysteries 🙂
farna
Detailer

Along with "put an LS in it" is "put a Mustang II front end in it". I'm an AMC (early 60s Rambler in particular) fan. and people don't understand trunnion front ends. Most have dealings with the 64-69 rubber bushed trunnions as used in the American/Javelin/AMX of those years, which are a bit harder to deal with than the earlier varieties. They aren't ball joints, so they must go! Most of the cars have been badly used and abused, and 50 year old parts need replacing, and AMC/Rambler parts aren't available just anywhere (there are 5-6 specialty vendors that have most anything, at least mechanical). Trunnions are a bit costly now due to the low numbers sold, not because they are "bad". It's still cheaper to rebuild the existing suspension rather than remove it and replace with a Mustang II, and in some cases you have a better overall suspension. The 64-69 (actually 62-69 in the big cars) uses a lower ball joint and strut rod, very similar to the Mustang II, so you're only replacing the upper trunnion! I've heard "better choice of springs", but Coil Spring Specialties will make anything you want as far as spring rate and height at a reasonable price. Hoe many times do you change out springs? "More brake options". There are three disk brake upgrade kit providers -- Willwood, Aerospace Components, and Scarebird. If drums are ok you can swap between any AMC -- they used a bolt-on spindle with the same bolt pattern since at least 1952. I've put bigger drums from a 64 Classic on a 63 American -- another 1/2" in diameter and width makes a huge difference! It's not as easy owning something that's not a popular collector car now. You have to do more research and sometimes be a little creative, and realize that some small parts and body parts will never be reproduced -- it's used or find a substitute. But it's more rewarding/fun provided you like being just a little different. So don't put an LS and Mustang II in it... at least do something a bit more creative/interesting!
Kyle
Moderator

Interesting. I can't say I am familiar with the AMC trunnion front ends. I'll be reading up on those in the coming weeks, sounds interesting!
livemeyer
New Driver

Great advice here. I bought a 1951 Chevy 3100 5-window in 2016, and have pretty much done what is said here. Though the body is rough, with a cowl piece missing (cut out by PO due to rust), I decided I wanted to know what this truck was like not when it was new, but when it was last on the road, which according to the license tabs was 1987. Apparently, in the 70's or 80's the truck got a transplant of a 327 and a Powerglide, along with lots of other stuffs donated by a mid-60's Impala. I found the brakes to be serviceable even though the master was gone and the lines needed to be replaced. I was shocked to find I needed to buy seatbelts immediately because even though they're "just drums" a light touch on the brake was enough to send driver and passenger through the windshield. Mabel (my name for her) will eventually get disc brakes as part of an IFS kit, but for now she's a running and driving truck and I can decide day-to-day what upgrades I want to do next, how much I want to spend (so I don't break the bank), and how long I want to take her out of service to do so.
edddurst-gmail
Intermediate Driver

I think you also missed a valid point in the explanation of NOS parts. Metallurgy has come miles and miles from the 50"s and 60's and even the 70's. Some of the replacement parts being manufactured now are much more rust resistand and stronger than the heavy original parts. Technology does have its place in restoration.
Kyle
Moderator

Great point!
JeffH13
New Driver

The other comments I see increasing now are about converting to fuel injection. Replacing an entire fuel delivery system creates a much larger scope to projects.
After that comes the electronic power steering. Sure it's nice to have but it's another case where others around the web are happy to spend your money.
DT
Detailer

I attribute so much of this as a sort of keeping up with the Jones type of thing. High Tech new things are great and I always try to do a good comparison of Old/Original/New style ? Disc Brakes may be one of my pet peeves. They are great and I really can't say anything horrible about them. My thing is I have found that if the Original Drums are working correctly they are generall adequate for me. Don't push a car that was designed to go 75MPH to 120 MPH and you will probably be ok 🙂 It just kills me when I hear 2 guys talking at a car show and the new owner of an old car says, Yep, First Thing, Disc brake !!! First thing, Is it really necessary ? and 2nd thing, Have you missed out on one of the really important lessons of old cars? How to care for and repair a simple drum brake system. Isn't that part of the fun and satisfaction of this hobby. I talk too much, Sorry 🙂
hyperv6
Gearhead

Use caution buying parts too early for what you are working on. Often projects bogged down or stopped.

This leads to people buying and trying to return parts years old that will not be accepted. Same on warranties.

Companies don’t want your old parts when they try to keep inventories fresh.
jaysalserVW
Detailer

I usually try to start people onto the right path BEFORE they even buy a car "to restore". I tell them to research the car that has their fascination. Now--build a "war chest" to purchase that vehicle. Don't begin a project by going into debt. My formula for restoring a given vehicle is simple--there are 3 aspects which MUST be present before beginning a restoration. I've seen thousands of restoration projects which have been sitting in pieces for years because these 3 factors were not followed. They are, in any order: Money, Place-Space, Time. Put them into any order. If one is missing, the restoration project will fail. If ANY one of them is missing. Most of us are not Lenos or Carinis. But, even these seasoned restorers do not begin a project in the backyard on the grass!
71Mustang351C
New Driver

“You gotta do the whole car at the same time as seen on all of the MT tv shows.”
The most amount of fun I’ve had is doing the tranny here, rear end there, top end, bottom end, etc. My “project car” has been enjoyed this whole time.
When I finally get to the body, it will be the last thing and will be beautiful. However over the life of the car I will have many memories of DRIVING it instead of my kids saying “that’s dad’s project car over there.”
71Mustang351C
New Driver

The other thing I’ll add: if you’re gonna commit to a Concours-level restoration, your progress will be slow and painful. If you do it over time, you’ll be in the driven class.
If showing your car is not important, then utilize all of the modern auto parts resources so you can get your car on the road and enjoy it.
I will highly suggest: keep all of your original rusty parts in a box. It’s easier to sell an OEM car than a custom. Your idea of a custom dream can be a really hard sell to someone else. I see it all the time at the auctions. Cars that took 100k sell for 40.
Ragtop69
Intermediate Driver

I'd have to agree with most of what you had to say but, if you've never had to try to install a part that was made in China on a vintage ride, you can't be so critical of those who advise avoiding foreign made parts. Additionally, the upgrade to disc brakes is hardly a frivolous or unessential modification. I have a '69 Mustang convertible that came to me in stock form with 4 wheel manual drum brakes. The car was a nightmare until I converted it to front wheel discs. BTW, having owned two LS powered vehicles (2000 Z28 LS1 and a 2009 Corvette LS3) I can attest to the "goodness" of those Chevy small blocks, but I too am repelled by the number of hot rod builders who seem to regard the installation of an LS power plant as the performance solution to all vehicles.
Mike_B
Pit Crew

"...you are going to sink a lot of time and money into a car you aren’t even sure you enjoy driving."

^THIS is the most important piece of the article!

The first thing I tell anyone I know that has bought or is considering buying a project car is: Get it running and driving first.
Anyone who is new (or new-ish) to project cars should get the car running and driving safely, and then take it out and drive it. It doesn't matter that it looks or sounds or drives like cr@p, when you are cruising that ratty old thing around town you are going to figure out if you enjoy the experience or not. If you don't enjoy driving it then why would you ever spend more money trying to restore it?
Sure, you might decide that it needs upgraded power brakes or power steering, but if you can't picture yourself cruising around in it after it's finished, they why continue with it? Find something else that does move you.
Besides, a running, driving car is much more fun for the rest of the family than a stripped down body and stack of boxes!
BobV
Pit Crew

I have found that one of the most important parts of car restoration is documentation. This includes taking copious amounts of pictures during teardown. You can't take too many pictures and now days it is so much easier with digital cameras where you can see how the picture turned out immediately as opposed to the old days of film cameras when you had to wait for the film to be developed to see how you did. Another thing is to bag and tag small parts with notes on where they go and to label each wire of the old wire harness as to what it hooks up to and copy those labels to the new harness so that months or maybe years later when you start putting the car back together you don't have to rely on memory. Again here, just like pictures, you can't have too many notes. These are some of the things I have learned over the course of many years restoring over a half dozen cars.
Foxlovescars
New Driver

Kyle has posted another superb story about classic automobiles. He is right about all five of the
myths surrounding automotive restorations: especially about painting the car before you finish the entire project. Another great job.
RW68RSConv
Intermediate Driver

“It just needs a quarter panel and all new sheet metal comes with it”
Technically, not advice but the implication is you only need to swap a couple of panels and boom! You’ve got a great car. Unless you know what the heck you’re doing, new quarters or other structural metal is not for the faint of heart. I’ve seen too many projects bought on dreams, not skills. I know this because that describes my first 3 or 4 purchases when I was young and dumb (and tool & skills poor). — and if your thinking 3 or 4?!? yes, it took a awhile to get through my thick skull.
jaysalserVW
Detailer

I, on the other hand, would advise beginning with the body--which includes metal and paint work. Why? because it IS the most expensive part of many vehicle restorations. If a person cannot afford the restoration of the body--why go to the trouble of restoring the chassis and engine, etc. What's he going to do with those components if he can't pay for the body? The better advice would be to begin a project by banking money over time (even before buying a restoration project vehicle). Have the money in hand rather than trying to work on a part of the vehicle--set it aside, gather more money--endlessly repeating the process. That's why so many advertise their projects as "10 year Restoration Project"--as though it took 10 years to do the restoration. No! It did not take 10 years of labor--it took 10 years because the restorer did not have the Time, the Place or the Money to do the restoration the proper way.
leftent
New Driver

NOS parts aren't always good parts.
There may have been a reason that part sat on a shelf for 50 years rather than being installed.
I bought an NOS speedo for my 1955 MG-ZA Magnette and made the mistake of just installing it. Turns out it was siezed and broke the almost as rare NOS speedo cable. I learned a lesson that even an NOS part should be rebuilt or at least serviced before installing. I have also run into NOS brackets that were originally welded together backwards and other parts that were mis-labelled decades ago which I couldn't resell as I had no idea what model car they actually belonged to. Live and Learn!