Resto Relapse - Revcounter 396

By: Guy Allen, Uniqie Cars magazine

Presented by

If the resto doesn't get you, the relapse might...

Resto Relapse - Revcounter 396
Angelo with his favourite toy.

TO anyone out there who has succeeded in restoring a car, mostly with their own grubby little hands, ladies and gentlemen (even if you’re neither), you have my undying admiration. I think you’re nuts, but am nevertheless genuinely awestruck by your achievement.

One way or another I’ve had a lot of exposure to the disease over the recent years, in part by having followed the builds on assorted give-away cars. There’s one quote from a builder that sticks in my head: "You can fix anything, so long as your pockets are deep enough."

For most of us, though, it’s not just a question of pockets. I kinda had a rolling restoration going for a while there, and ended up, after three years and far more money than I can count, sold it for exactly what I’d paid at the start. And the reason I got rid of it was because I just got fed-up with feeling that every time I fixed one thing, another three popped up.

What I’ve been studiously avoiding is the mad weekend, "Sod it, let’s strip it back to a shell and do it properly" syndrome. Time and again, I’ve seen people do this, get part way through the actual restoration (the dis-assembly is the easy part) and just run out of time, interest, money, whatever.

So it’s been with huge interest I’ve been following the Thunderbird rebuild by young Angelo, our graphic artist, resident abandoned-car stalker and motoring-trivia world champion. He reckons he’s now mid-thirties, though I’m pretty sure he was 21 when he started on it four years ago.

As is often the case with these projects there have been setbacks. One workshop damages something, or some trim goes missing, or the shed-dweller doing the specialist grease nipple polishing apparently can’t finish any job in under a year – though the task actually takes 10 minutes.

Then there are the victories. Like when he finds some long-lost part on eBay, or turns up a complete dealer sales kit (complete with photo slides and long-play record) for his model T-Bird. Then all is right with the world.

Even as a spectator, watching all this going on can become traumatic. He’ll drag himself in on Monday, looking as though he’s gone ten rounds in a cage fight.

"Neil and I got the front seats in… Well, more or less," he explains, "But there’s still the trim and the wiring to plug in, and one might have to come back out because I don’t think it’s sitting right. Do you have any idea how heavy those things are?" There you go, two-man Thunderbird seat-wrestling – the new blood sport. I wonder how it’ll go at the Olympics?

Still, you can see the project is nearing the finish line and this where you have to admire the patience of anyone tackling this scale of job. Me, I’d be in there with the super glue and gaffer tape, just to get the thing going so I could drive it around the block, park it and never look at it again.

Nope, Mr A and his kin have rightly decided that if you’ve made it this far, you might as well finish the job properly. So they continue the long hard battle to the finish.

I can see there is an ultimate reward. Sitting back with the car done, knowing it’s right and that you did it – something that maybe 40 or 50 years ago took a team of full-time professionals. The level of satisfaction would be huge.

Now what I’m waiting to see is whether it’s habit-forming. Angelo swears he will never touch another resto so long as he lives. Me, I’m not so sure… Anyone want to lay odds on a relapse?

Guy ‘Guido’ Allen

(Editorial, Unique Cars 396)

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