cancel
Showing results for 
Search instead for 
Did you mean: 
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
hearsedriver
Intermediate Driver

just LS swap it? i don't think so. for lazy or non-visionary or fast performance folks fine.
only buy NOS or USA parts? there is something to be said for that. try fitting made in china parts (eg sheet metal) on your vehicle, and be prepared to use a torch, sledge, and many bad words. NOS or OEM quality are best because they do something too much modern aftermarket stuff will not. nos and oem actually fit. its amazing!
Kyle
Moderator

OEM parts are my preference if I can get them, but there aren't many OEM parts available for anything in my garage. NOS has its place, but there needs to be a certain amount of caution and responsibility when using those parts. Just like the parts on our cars, just sitting around does no good.
Will
Intermediate Driver

I generally agree with OEM, if they can be found, but I agree with Kyle on NOS. Rubber bushings, brake parts with O-rings and other "soft" parts deteriorate over the years. Can you imagine the time it takes to install some part and have it fail a few weeks later, and find out it has crumbled into pieces.
F360Spider
Detailer

Another negative about doing body work first is that once the body is perfect, you have to be extremely careful with whatever subsequent thing needs doing. Just dropping a single metal part on the surface would cause severe anguish and rework.

I've found the best upgrade that an old car can have is replacing the windshield. The difference is astounding. Your old beater is suddenly transformed into a shiny masterpiece. Even if the rest of the car is horrible on the outside, your view while driving is going to be outstanding. Oh, replace that worn mirror while your at it. Cheap and effective.
Kyle
Moderator

That windshield tip is a good one! Also, windshields can be surprisingly cheap sometimes.
MoparMan
Advanced Driver

One of the problems with buying "all" the parts in advance is that invariably as time goes by, unless you've made a comprehensive list of what/when you've bought, you may end up repeating a purchase for a part that you already have! (Ask me how I know, LOL!!) 🙂
3pedals
Pit Crew

I don't own 60's muscle cars to change them to drive like modern cars. I want the feel and experience of driving the car as it was. If I wanted it to drive like a modern muscle car I'd buy one.
Most 60's cars have front disc and on some you can put wider drums on the rear, an old Shelby trick.
Good tires and well adjusted brakes work fine.
llawrence9
Intermediate Driver

Discs were an option on some of them, and most owners didn't go for the option.
BobPalma
New Driver

Agreed on the drum brakes; good advice.
Buying Parts: That advice needs to be tempered with the reality of buying parts that will likely become no longer available, especially for oddball makes that don't have a strong aftermarket support for smaller and less frequently-used parts.

If you need a certain piece of trim for a project and it will likely never be reproduced and is already rare NOS and you see one for sale, buy it. If you ultimately never need it, it will be that much more salable when you go to sell it.

I recently realized I would never need a small trim part for one of my cars for which I paid $16.23 at the dealer in 1976, when I bought the car. That make (Plymouth) and that dealer (Hoosier Chrysler-Plymouth in Indianapolis) are both long gone. Because that part has been NLA as NOS for some time, I just sold it for $200 earlier this year.

Another piece of internet advice often heeded unwisely is converting 6-volt cars to 12-volt electrical systems. As the Technical Editor for The Studebaker Drivers Club more than 40 years, I don't know how many 6-volt Studebakers have been ruined by half-done "conversions" to 12-volt electrics when all that was needed was to replace lighter-gauge 12-volt battery cables that someone had erroneously installed in a 6-volt car.

Solosolo
Intermediate Driver

When I decided to restore my British 1959 Ford Zephyr 6 convertible I made a point of asking fellow club members how I should go about it. About 50% said mechanicals first about 40% said paint, and the rest, upholstery. So that's the way I did it, fortunately because as I was lowering the engine into the body one leg of the tripod slipped, and the engine crashed down onto the fender which was then beyond repair. Being a bolt on fender it was easily replaced as I had a seperate body to strip another fender from. Imagine how I would have felt if the bodywork had been completed? I think I would have given up the project there and then!
beng2121
New Driver

Couldn't agree more on not buying all the parts at once. Most of us are tight on space, and parts for a car take up a lot of space when they aren't neatly assembled on a completed car. Parts also sit around in a dirty shop/garage and can get damaged before you ever get them on the car. The author noted you can change directions, which I have done more than once, yielding a shiny new part with no purpose left. I'm also a CPA, so the idea of spending some every month to buy parts along the way is much more attractive than a big expense all at once.

Great article!
JGMan
Intermediate Driver

A CPA!? I think you are needed stat in another Hagerty forum that just started today where some guy asked about capital gains upon selling his MOPAR. I think he’s about to get a lot of bad “tax advice” from non-accountant types.
JackVan
Intermediate Driver

No taxes on used sales.
GRP_Photo
Instructor

There are in New Jersey, and, if I remember correctly, in Tennessee. You pay them when you register the car.
Tinkerah
Technician

You may be thinking of sales tax, true in Massachusetts as well. State collects 6.125% of book value every time the vehicle is registered to a new owner. No matter the condition upon purchase, or the state in which it was purchased. However we sell for cash and....often forget to report.

Zephyr
Instructor

In California when you register the car you must pay sales tax based on some formula or book created by the DMV. No way to register the car without paying sales tax.
MoparMarq
Detailer

In Washington state, 8.7% (at least here in Clark County) excise tax on registering/titling any car to new owner, base on "reported" sale price.
Dinubadave
Pit Crew

The best advice I can give is to map out the project into phases and only do or think about the phase you are working on. For example, the chassis might be your first phase. Obviously if it’s a frame off restoration the tear down, inventory, documentation and storage would be your first phase. But once that’s done, only set your mind to completing say the chassis. Once that’s done, move to the next phase as so on. This way your project is reduced to jobs that are easier to get your mind around and the project won’t overwhelm you.
Dinubadave
Pit Crew

Another piece of advice is sandwich bags.  You may think you’ll remember what every bolt goes but keeping them in a bag, marked to the part will save you so many headaches later on.  Pictures are another great tool, especially pictures of how things were attached!  

qualicas
Pit Crew

I can comment on drum brakes. I swapped in a Chrysler 383 with torqueflite auto into my 1956 Chev.
Yes, really. It was 1968 and 327 engines were not to be found in scrap yard while 383s were plentiful.
I had done lots of work on the car and took it to our local dragstrip. I went through the traps and made sure I went through the top speed trap. Then I took my food off the gas. I looked ahead and there was not a whole lot of straight before a hard left. I touched the brakes. They faded very quickly maybe brought me from 100 plus to 50 and then the faded brakes knocked off a few more mph. I made it around the corner. Lucky for me. Next run I hit the top end and shut down as soon as I could. That was the only time I took it racing. It would keep up with new GTX 440s back then. I also faded the brakes another time just on a freeway. Sadly, that car has been gone for 45 years now. I also managed to fade the brakes on my 1980 Chev crew cab with a camper. We were in Yosemite up high overnight and our infant daughter was sick. I drove that truck like a racecar down the mountain. We got to the town at the base and at the last stop sign I just cruised through with brakes faded out. That truck had 1 ton brakes. Huge disks on front and huge drums at back. They must have been smoking!
JackVan
Intermediate Driver

10 X 1-3/4 on the front and 9 X 1-1/2 on the back. They wouldn't stop it from 100 mph when new.
Tinkerah
Technician

I've the same drag race experience. I couldn't use my drum brakes too soon or they'd be faded before I was below 60 MPH. I learned to let the wind slow me from 100+ to about 80, hit the brakes until they were gone at around 40 and screeched around the last turnout every single pass. If any official ever heard what it took for me to turn that car around I was sure I'd be done for the day.
51Chevytruck
New Driver

Good thoughts. I go to car shows and most everything has an LS under the hood. I've been looking for an early 60's GMC with a V6, everything I have seen at the car shows is an LS with generally a 700R4 automatic. I ran original size bias ply tires for years, sometimes corners and stopping were a little scary. I went to radials, better ride and handling, such as handling is on a 51 Chevy pickup. Radials turned out to be a great decision, won't go back to bias tires again, but now the drum brakes can't handle the better grip of the tires. Going to try a disc brake upgrade. Hoping that combination makes for safe stopping.
OkJustOneMore
Intermediate Driver

Also finding the parts, if scarce or rare, ka-ching.... ive bought parts for my mopar on ebay knowing i was at the sellers mercy for a rare part. Price you pay for a not so plentiful car /reproduction parts .
TimViall
Pit Crew

Finding rust and rot on a classic car is much like the same challenge in classic travel trailers. Rule of thumb: For every spot of rust or rot you can find, assume there’s probably 10 times more hiding underneath interior panels and/or well applied Bondo. Before you purchase an old car, get it up on a lift and carefully inspect the frame, underside, leading edges of body panels and the like. Doing so will often reveal much more of a challenge; better to realize that before you sink many thousands of dollars into a car.
Truax
Pit Crew

Buying it all ahead of time?
Another reason not too, as many of us have found. It may not fit or be defective when you get ready to use it years later and it’s been too long to return. Unless you are going for a total 100% concours restoration, most NOS parts will be extremely costly. There are a lot of good new restoration parts available. As far as disc brake and LS swaps; first they aren’t as easy as the 30 min shows on tv say and second think about how your going to drive. You may not need all of that stop or go power!
TonyT
Instructor

The only advice that I give people that ask about a project car is "budget." This has a couple of facets, time being foremost followed by the monetary aspect. Most restorations, modifications and even major repairs will take longer and cost more than anticipated. If these seemingly inevitable time and cost overruns are factored in, then the project won't tend to make one lie in bed awake at night...
blueox76
Pit Crew

Before LS swaps, there was always the 350 swap; just as silly to me. How many times have you seen a beautiful old Ford with a 350 sitting in it. Why? The coolest old rod I've seen locally is a 32 Ford with a 5.0 HO from a 90s Mustang. Even if you're going more modern, why not at least keep it the same make? The 302 can go head-to-head with a 350. As far as restomods go, it's not for everyone. There is the OE crowd, and the mod crowd. I personally prefer fuel injection and overdrive for anything, as long is it's feasible. I just finished a 700 swap on a customer's 71 Chevelle that has a Corvette 350 in it. You'll retain the "feel" of the old car, but have a more reliable system. LS swap? In a Chevelle, why not? Swapping a Ford? Go for the Coyote swap!!
TonyT
Instructor

Dollar for dollar, it's hard to beat the small block Chevy for a swap. Case in point: Three years ago, we had a '65 Mustang with the original 289 and a '68 Camaro with a 327 in the shop at the same time, both in for mechanical and cosmetic upgrades. The engines were sent to the same machine shop for the same procedures (bore, fit and align new pistons, align hone and balance.) Both engines received new aluminum cylinder heads. The machining bill was the same for both blocks, but the parts bill favored the Chevy by $450.00. Money is money, no matter how you slice it.
blueox76
Pit Crew

Good point if budget is the most important thing. But I will almost always spend more money doing things that aren't what everyone else does. Parts for my Fairmont are impossible to find, but it's still better than having another Mustang.
spoom
Technician

Agreed. I've had mostly Fords, but if you aren't worried about family ties it's been hard to beat the SBC for cost and availability of mild to wild parts AND finding folks with the skillsets to work on them anywhere-especially in a one-bay garage in between where you had breffus and where you thought you'd be spending the night. Plus, there's a lot of places where the small block Ford is a hassle to fit in a hot rod build compared to the SBC (oil pan) including a Ford hot rod.
MarveH
Intermediate Driver

I agree I think there are good motors from every make and you can keep it in the family. Several years ago one of the hot rod magazines took a Chevy LS and a Ford 4.6 out of a junk yard and turbo charged them both. The Chevy did make more HP, by 2, and cost $1500 more for the build then the Mod motor. The LS parts are cheaper but it if you believe there is more to an old car than looks, like its original character, then go original if at all possible.
RJ
Intermediate Driver

I visited a friend of a friend to see his very nice '34 Plymouth Coupe - just a beautiful car. I said "Tell me it's not a SBC, please". No problem - he opened the hood and there sat a Small block Ford!
blueox76
Pit Crew

That's pretty funny! A good motor, but if I were a Mopar guy, I'd just use a 318. That's a good motor, too.
garcuri
Pit Crew

Having completed several car projects ( and made a few of these mistakes myself without even being told to! ) I would say that this is good advice on bad advice!
btukwh
Pit Crew

"Remember, if you can lock all four wheels and slide, you don’t need more brakes, you need more traction"

You can add that to your list of bad advice. Brakes are about much more than the ability to lock the wheels.
JackVan
Intermediate Driver

Disc brakes are better at non professional response. Drum brakes require more driver training to race on a course than discs. For drag racing, drums are better. Less rolling friction. Police cars with drum brakes had self adjusters removed to prevent over adjusting under hard use. So did the true muscle cars of the '60s that came ready to drag race. I have 11 X 3 drums on my car, and judicious use of the brake pedal works better than a anti lock system if you know what you are doing. Discs are cheaper and require less maintenance than drums, hence disc.
btukwh
Pit Crew

Yes, that's why I took the discs off my wife's new lexus. Ripped out that silly anti lock brake system. Put in some drums off a '73 Pinto. Wow, such an improvement.

 

I hear a lot of formula 1 race teams have switched to drum brakes. In fact I haven't been to a single formula 1 race this year where all the teams weren't using drum brakes. Of course I haven't been to a formula 1 race in more than a year.

 

You can only bury your head so far in the sand before someone plays with your bum.

 

All in good fun.

Kyle
Moderator

Curious what you mean? It is important to have brakes that can be modulated, yes. The main reason I hear a lot of people declare they need discs is "for more stopping power." They don't need more stopping power though. There are reasons for doing a disc conversion, I will be the first to admit that, but to say everything needs a conversion is absurd.
TRdelux
Intermediate Driver

Not using appropriate safety gear. We've all seen the videos of welding and grinding without gloves,welding helmet,ear protection etc..
56Tiger
Pit Crew

So, I inherited a 1963 Pontiac Catalina convertible from my dad, back in 1990. The Roto-Hydramatic transmission got all of about 5,000 miles from three rebuilds at my local transmission shop- total 15,000 miles and it was a real dog. So a friend says, "Throw a Turbo 400 in it!" So, I bought a "Turbo 400, removed the Hydramatic and son of a gun- after having to cut out the floor and welding in a Grand Prix floor pan to allow the Turbo 400 profile to fit, I bolted it in. What? Where does the starter bolt up? My buddy says, "Tow it to my shop- I'll install your starter..." A $400.00 tow later, he says, "Darn! There's no place to install the starter..." So, now I need a new engine. Found a 1968 Pontiac 400, out of a Grand Prix. Installed it, installed the transmission and the starter. Darn! The drive shaft is too long! So, I get it cut and balanced. Wow! What a difference the engine and transmission made to speed and reliability! So, driving back from San Rafael, Ca. one day at about 70-75 miles an hour, the light near Sears Point turns red- Yep, somebody must have sprayed WD-40 on my brakes when I got down to about 30 miles per hour! Luckily, no one was in front of me as I down shifted, standing on the brake pedal- and sailed right through the red light! I stayed at about 25 miles per hour for about 5 minutes, when my brakes came back. Got home, put the "Cat" up on jack stands and proceeded to convert it to front discs. Now she goes like a Banshee and stops on a dime. My son now has her.

I agree on the LS1 conversion, everybody is doing them. But on the discs, my personal opinion is get rid of the drum brakes, they were always terrible- we just didn't know any better back in the old days.
TimeFixers
Pit Crew

It's usually only bad advice if you blindly follow it and dont' do your own research.
Stradakat
Pit Crew

Good article, Kyle.
Kyle
Moderator

Thanks!
bradleydad
Pit Crew

Two more myths; You have to convert to 12 volt and juice brakes.
The biggest reason folks say you need a 12 volt system is for the lights. They now make LEDs that plug right into the existing socket as easily as swapping out any light bulb. The other reason is for easier starting, but if your starter is OK and you are keeping a stock engine, there is no reason to swap out all the electrical components in the electrical system. I just swapped out the bulbs in a Model A I just bought. They look stock unless you look very closely and are very bright. I installed warm white instead of white so they even look like normal when driving.
Most cars with mechanical brakes are light weight by their nature. Properly adjusted, mechanical brakes work as well as juice brakes and are a lot easier to maintain. Also, if you are restoring to stock, the hydraulic brake conversion really stands out.


Kyle
Moderator

Oh, how did I forget the 6v vs 12v debate! There are two Model A Fords in my life right now, one 12v and one 6v and functionally there is no difference. I'll tell you which is easier to work on though! (hint: it's the 6v car)
warrene
Intermediate Driver

This guy has it right, you do NOT need 12v, nor do you need 'JUICE" brakes, nor do you need them with rotors & 'disc', this is pure nonsense, with say a '30's car, if your engine won't spin good enough, it's time to have the starter fixed, also real 6v cables. Mechanical brakes work just a good as 'juice' but have to be correct, not worn out junk. Most guys now are too young to know this stuff and are into street rod mentality, the fads of 'modern' and 'gotta' have it'.
Thanks,
Warrene
Rider79
Instructor

What are "juice brakes"? I have never heard that term in my 50+ years of car crazing.
Bostwick9
Detailer

Mechanical vs. hydraulic ["juice"].