Are you trying to convince your wife to let you buy a Miata? Does the phrase “built, not bought” sound like a pipe dream? Let’s help you. Buying a project car was one of the best financial decisions I’ve ever made.
A few years ago, a friend of mine was selling his 1994 Mazda Miata. At the time, I had a new WRX, but I was intrigued by the idea of a small, affordable two-seater with rear-wheel drive.
This example was in good condition, but far from perfect: the airbag light was flashing, the right door and fender were dented, the rear window hood was broken, the HVAC fan selector did not work, and the clutch was activated. when it came out
By this point in my life, I had changed my own oil and rotated my tires, but that was it. I knew this car had potential and as long as I did the work myself, it could be very cheap to own.
So I bought it. In the last two years, I have learned as much about this car as I did in college, met many wonderful people and found great stories to tell.
9 ways your project car will pay for itself
#1 – You will know your machine inside out
I removed almost all the components from the engine bay without rebuilding the engine itself (although I plan to do so someday). I replaced all fluids and changed all exterior seals, and I know the mileage behind every serviceable part.
If a problem arises, I go ahead to the place to look because I wasn’t there a long time ago and I remember how it was put together.
#2 – You will learn to be independent
It’s easy enough to take your car to a dealership, give them a blank check, and fix the problem… but you won’t learn anything if you ask someone else to do the work for you.
By doing the work yourself, you’ll have unparalleled pride and accomplishment, and you’ll be confident you can solve any problem that comes your way.
As an added bonus, you may find that what you learn in the garage transfers to other areas of your life, such as home maintenance or furniture assembly. Hey, I bet you can put together a comfortable sleeper in no time after changing your own clutch!
#3 – You will learn great problem-solving skills
What is this noise? Why is my slow motion difficult? You’ll learn how to troubleshoot these types of problems by diving into the factory manual to learn how each system works, then run diagnostic tests to determine which parts are working as expected and which need to be replaced.
There are few emotions bigger than that “AHA!” time to solve a problem you’ve been searching for hours, days or even months. The more time you spend investigating the problem, the better, even if it was just a simple mistake.
These problem-solving skills can even transfer to other areas of your life and can greatly enhance your career. everyone wants to hire the guy who can fix anything.
#4 – You will understand how the various vehicle systems interact
How is ignition timing related to idle speed? How does my car run without the mass air flow sensor plugged in?
These are the types of questions you’ll be able to answer right away because you’ve spent time studying them, correcting them, fine-tuning them, and praying that they work as intended.
#5 – You will overcome your fears
There is a lot of work on a car that scared me. Working on cars can be dangerous, but if you take the necessary precautions and use common sense, you really have nothing to worry about.
When I started worrying about breaking something expensive, I remembered that you could do it yourself three times for the same price every time you hired someone.
#6 – You will save money!
It’s much cheaper to learn the basics of how a car works on a $500 project car than it is on a $50,000 sports car. Parts are generally easier to find and there is a lot of information online, as cheap old cars are usually mass-produced and widely known.
Many people hear the words “project car” and think they mean “money pit.” The line between the two is often blurry at best, but I think a lot of it comes down to attitude. If you approach your project with the mindset of “I’m going to do this again!” You’re probably safe to continue.
Sometimes it takes a little more money than expected to solve a problem, but you come away from the experience with knowledge and wisdom that is hard to estimate and will help you on your next adventure in ways you could never have imagined. . When you finally save up for the car of your dreams, you’ll know how to get into the engine bay.
#7 – You will meet amazing people
Car enthusiasts love to help each other. When someone posts a thoughtful question on a forum, many people offer advice and some even offer to help you do the job in exchange for a six-pack of beer.
They are people who love cars and will celebrate your personal victory with you. They will make sure you are ready for the next automatic crossing or car.
#8 – It takes character
Working on cars is about: work. It can be a lot of fun, but I’d be lying if I said it was always easy when I got into the garage (in fact, most of the time it’s not easy at all).
Sometimes there’s no room to get a bolt out, sometimes it takes a lot of force to get an old part out, and sometimes it seems like the engineers who built the car didn’t expect to dismantle it.
Doing the same job again because you made a mistake teaches patience, perseverance, and maybe even humility. I appreciate these qualities, but they are rarely nice to have.
#9 – They make great stories
If everything went well, life would be boring, right? Sometimes things don’t go as planned.
I had to redo my timing belt four times because the intake cam came off the pin. The timing marks were perfectly aligned, but the intake was too far forward and very rough at idle. After replacing half the parts in the engine bay, I realized my mistake.