Is Your Project Car Fully Sorted? (It’s Okay, You’re Here With Friends)

The project car in your garage may run and drive, and you may say it's finished, but the fact that you have to use a piece of wood to hold open the hood and have wires sticking out of the dash says otherwise.

Don't worry, we can be just as guilty, but having a finished project and not just an "it's almost done, I swear" in your garage is easier than you might realize. For the most part, it's often a few smaller, easily overlooked pieces of the puzzle that are keeping it from being something truly great.

Carl Heideman knows at least a thing or two about restoring and renovating cars. And, lucky for you, he's the kind of guy who shares his wealth of knowledge with the rest of the world.

Read about how he took our MG Midget project car from a mostly complete project to a fully sorted restoration over on Classic Motorsports through just a few aesthetic and mechanical tweaks.

Like what you're reading? We rely on your financial support. For as little as $3, you can support Grassroots Motorsports by becoming a Patron today. 

Become a Patron!

Join Free Join our community to easily find more MG, Midget and Project Cars news.
Comments
View comments on the GRM forums
Vajingo
Vajingo New Reader
9/18/20 1:08 p.m.

I once had a project car that was finished. It would randomly shut down sometimes. Fact: you cannot get laid if you have a car that leaves you stranded on the side of the road.

EvanB (Forum Supporter)
EvanB (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
9/18/20 1:18 p.m.

If it's fully sorted can it even be considered a project car?

BlueInGreen - Jon
BlueInGreen - Jon UltraDork
9/18/20 1:24 p.m.
EvanB (Forum Supporter) said:

If it's fully sorted can it even be considered a project car?

Yeah when it’s all done it’s not a project, time to sell it and move on to the next one :)

EvanB (Forum Supporter)
EvanB (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
9/18/20 1:29 p.m.

In reply to BlueInGreen - Jon :

Or time to forget about it and work on other projects until it becomes a project again from sitting. 

Ian F (Forum Supporter)
Ian F (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
9/18/20 1:43 p.m.

I've bought brand new cars that weren't sorted...

The closest I've ever been was the 2007 Cooper convertible my ex- and I bought. Upon getting home, we proceeded to rip the car apart to customize the interior.  Then a few months later I bought a factory body kit for it.  It was pretty much "done" although had I been able to get it when the ex- decided to sell it (long story...) I would have added an exhaust, a WMW tune and probably some suspension upgrades.

Every other project I've owned?  Nope... never.  Hell... I generally can't leave my guitars alone... 

wearymicrobe
wearymicrobe PowerDork
9/18/20 1:53 p.m.

The one I am working on is typically in pieces. 

 

The others I really try to get them so they are 100% usable in traffic with no safety issues. Not the easiest thing but if one of them goes down I force myself to work on it before I get back the the "official" project car. 

NOHOME
NOHOME MegaDork
9/18/20 1:56 p.m.

Nope.

nderwater
nderwater UltimaDork
9/18/20 2:19 p.m.

Edited for the hard-core GRM crowd:  Is Your Daily Driver Fully Sorted? (It’s Okay, You’re Here With Friends)

 

Nope. I've had to line both the door sills on my Boxster with plastic sheets to shed the water that leaks in through the doors when it rains.  Time to try to waterproof the door internals... again.

L5wolvesf
L5wolvesf Reader
9/18/20 2:26 p.m.

Always a work in progress even if it is fast and wins.

Duke
Duke MegaDork
9/18/20 2:34 p.m.

No.

 

z31maniac
z31maniac MegaDork
9/18/20 2:36 p.m.

My S52 E30 was SSSOOOOOOOO close to being finished. 

Just needed to have the custom exhaust rebuilt (the guy who built it turned out to be a hack), get the back bumper back on. But then shortly after running it on the dyno 235/235 at the wheels, it popped the headgasket. I was so gutted I had a friend help me replace the headgasket and then parted it out.

My 91 318is was pretty close to where I wanted it when I decided to sell it (that's probably the car I most regret selling). It had GC coilovers, tune, Wilwoods ready to go on, SSR Comp Type-Cs in 17x7.5 with 215/40/17 RT-615s, black leather interior with the houndstooth door cards. 

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
9/18/20 3:54 p.m.

This so shames me that I need to install those new frunk inserts. In mean, they're already sitting there in the frunk.

dropstep
dropstep UltraDork
9/18/20 4:01 p.m.

Well the carpet is still laying on the shelf, I already started ordering performance parts for the swapped in engine and I have the entire suspension and brake refresh parts sitting on my porch. But it runs, drives and does burnouts

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
9/18/20 5:35 p.m.

Some of this comes to mindset. If you're a shop, you have a finish line for a project. If you're a magazine, you probably have one too - I believe there have been some exceptions in the GRM fleet, but not for a while.

If you're someone who owns a car for a long time and fiddles with it - there's no end. You'll always have something else you could do. Even if it's sorted in someone else's eyes, you'll have something you know you could improve upon. Or, if you don't, you'll drive the car until it DOES need something.

The Targa Miata was pretty freakin' sorted. Then I took a sawzall to the front half of the cage, tore apart the dash and I'm about to drop the complete engine/transmission out. Then I'll re-engineer the HVAC system, probably come up with a custom auto HVAC setup, change the suspension around some, swap out the headlights and add some sound insulation.

calteg
calteg Dork
9/18/20 5:43 p.m.

Despite the fact that the current miata runs a tad warm, both the Singular hood vents and my super awesome DIY ducting solution have sat on the workbench for the last two months. 

Am I lazy? Yes

Am I a gigantic Bob Costas because I'm scared to take an angle grinder to my hood? Also yes

Thus far, my solution has been to drive it only in 20 minute increments. 

Snowdoggie
Snowdoggie HalfDork
9/18/20 5:52 p.m.
Keith Tanner said:

Some of this comes to mindset. If you're a shop, you have a finish line for a project. If you're a magazine, you probably have one too - I believe there have been some exceptions in the GRM fleet, but not for a while.

Sounds too much like work for me. I have enough deadlines at the office. Time spent with my car is time off for me. 

Error404
Error404 Reader
9/19/20 8:30 a.m.

Even assuming that my project Mustang could take a trip around the block or, better, was track ready.... I definitely wouldn't call it anywhere on the same continent as even partially sorted. Heck, my motorcycle isn't even fully sorted. Which reminds me to go order some parts....

GIRTHQUAKE
GIRTHQUAKE Dork
9/19/20 8:55 a.m.

No. I have never been able to sort why my AW11 just became progressively harder to start, and the forums and fanbase really didn't help much. Like... there's only so many ways I can explain that I've repeatedly checked the spaghetti mess of vacuum lines. Its not them. It got progressively worse. It would run on starting fluid, and fuel pressure was in spec. And without fail...

"bUt DiD yOu ChEcK vAcUuM???? I DONT THINK OP CHECKD VAC LINEZ"

It's honestly why I haven't worked on it in a year.

Error404
Error404 Reader
9/19/20 9:03 a.m.

In reply to GIRTHQUAKE :

Is fuel making it all the way to the cylinders in sufficient quantities? Of course, that doesn't matter if you haven't checked your vacuum lines. C'mon man, that's the first step.

GIRTHQUAKE
GIRTHQUAKE Dork
9/19/20 9:11 a.m.
Error404 said:

In reply to GIRTHQUAKE :

Is fuel making it all the way to the cylinders in sufficient quantities? Of course, that doesn't matter if you haven't checked your vacuum lines. C'mon man, that's the first step.

Ha, yeah. I've even swapped out the injectors, since it was running the OGs and their caps were cracked. Good spray and everything on the bench! Best I can figure is something like the intake gasket is letting go and screwing with Air/fuel mix, and I bring that up. And what do I get?

"DED YU CHEK VAC-CUM LINES?????!"

 

jmc14
jmc14 Reader
9/19/20 9:37 a.m.

NO!!!  smiley  Over 20 years ago I started on a quest to build my own car.  I've built a number of them but was never 100% satisfied.  I couldn't afford to keep every car so I would sell one to be able to build the next.

My last build, my Cheetah Tribute, is the first one that I'm 100% happy with the looks, size, comfort, and performance.  I know that it's built to my taste and not every one will share my opinion. 

It's still not done though.  I have to find wheel center caps or make my own.  I need to finish the interior.  Maybe I'll paint it.  It's in Gel Coat now.  The fuel gauge isn't working.  I need to detail it out.

I also have a freshly built LS1 in the shop.  Do I switch out the all iron SBC over the winter?  I would gain about 80hp and lose about 100 lbs. That would bring wet weight to 1812lbs.  Or, do I build another one as a coupe and put the LS in it?  

My projects are never done.  I know that I have a sickness.  I can't seem to stop!

I've put over 2000 miles on my car this summer.  This picture is from last Saturday while on a great drive in VT.

Having fun!

 

gearheadE30
gearheadE30 Dork
9/19/20 10:09 a.m.

It's ironic that you posted a picture of the 318is project....my 318is went boom at a track day 3 years ago now and I still haven't gotten to it. A bit too much timing with all the long straights on the Indianapolis road course seized the rings on all four pistons, with the same tune I ran at multiple other track days with no problem. That car was SO close to "done" before that.

That triggered a bout of automotive frustration that I'm kind of still in the middle of, and why I've not been on the forums here as much the last year or two. Bought a 944 LS1 project, sold the Caprice to get the Tahoe (supposed to not be a project but is really just a different kind of project...), bought a 951 parts car, then another E30 fell in my lap, followed by a third E30. Obiously I should have just fixed the 318is and carried on with my life....

The backup car (Silverado) is pretty well sorted, but otherwise, everything has a to do list. Hoping that I can get to the "sell car" part of the list on 2 of them before the end of the year so I can get the ones I really care about closer to "done".

Anyway, better get back out to the garage to finish patching up a rusty rocker and wheel arch.... cheeky

 

 

Vigo (Forum Supporter)
Vigo (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
9/19/20 10:47 a.m.

Or time to forget about it and work on other projects until it becomes a project again from sitting. 

Story of my life lol.  I used to have a literal drawer full of electric fuel pumps for this reason. I think i am down to 2, but none of my projects have stopped being projects!

 

noddaz
noddaz UltraDork
9/21/20 9:07 a.m.

I don't have my life sorted out yet.  And you want me to have projects sorted? cheeky

MrFancypants
MrFancypants Reader
9/21/20 9:35 a.m.

I always keep my toy car running and able to move under its own power. If I let it sit immobile for too long I'd probably lose interest and momentum and thr car would just rot in the garage.

Our Preferred Partners
PZAfRhMRcBaf9bfQyuNmKTzkmMF9df0iGPvMxB4AqKfadH30oA2UQwubF7EH4tse