As car enthusiasts we all dream about finding and building our ideal car—our dream car. We all have different ideas of what our dream car is, and it may change as we get older or our priorities change, but there is always a car. And their best when we get to work on them.
So, how do we go about building it?
Step one is having your dream car.
Whether you already own your dream car or you’re in the process of buying it—it’s the most important part of building your dream car.
There are plenty of ways to come into possession of your car of choice—and plenty of conditions it can be in. Budget will generally play a very large role in this.
Ideally you’ll be looking for a car that’s in decent, solid (not rusty) condition. Hopefully without too many missing or worn parts. The more you have budgeted for the purchase, the better the condition you’ll start with. And, just because you can get a car in worse condition for cheaper, that doesn’t mean you’ll save any money in the long run (the opposite is true more often than not).
Step two is figuring out what you want (and sometimes need) to do with it.
With the car in you possession, you can look it over and figure out what kind of shape it’s in. If it’s in good shape, you do regular maintenance and get to planning any modifications or changes you’d like to make. If it’s not in good shape, you’ll need to figure out what is wrong and what needs to be fixed before you can start making modifications.
To know just how far you’ll need to go, you may need to strip the car down to its chassis. If you can be sure that there are just a couple of areas that need some help, go ahead and just strip those areas down. Unfortunately, you’ll often find more wrong that you originally thought and you’ll find yourself taking more and more of the car apart—a lesson I know too well and am currently working through.
Just make sure to take a lot of pictures of every step along the way if you do strip the car down completely. You’ll thank yourself when it comes time to put it all back together.
Step three is planning, planning, planning.
So, you have your car and you’ve made sure it’s in good condition to start (or at least fixed what was wrong). Now you can start modifying it, right?
You can do that… but I would suggest taking some time to plan out exactly what you want before you begin. It might not sound like as much fun, but you’ll enjoy the end product of your labor a lot more (and your bank account will likely thank you as well).
If you’re building a race car, the organization you’re planning to race with will have a rule book. You’ll want to consult this for every aspect of your build to make sure that what you’re doing falls in line with the rules Rules they’ve laid out for the type of racing and the class that you want to participate in.
You can also look at the modifications you would like to do and see where you fit into, however this could place you in a class over your head if you’re inexperienced.
Step four is doing it.
Getting started is probably the most exciting and most difficult part of the project car experience. There are so many things to be done and you have a ton of motivation (or a metric tonne if you’re outside the US).
Where you’ll run into trouble is that there is often too much to do. When there’s an endless laundry list of tasks, it’s difficult to get stared.
That’s why we spent so much time planning! Because you have a plan, you can break the process down into smaller, easier to tackle tasks and start working your way through them. Before you know it, you’ve finished one part of the project. Then you just move onto the next set of items on your list. How you arrange your tasks is completely up to you and what needs to be done. There’s no wrong way to go about it.
A project car can be whatever you want it to be, there’s no prescribed path you need to take or a specific set of rules for what constitutes an appropriate project car. It’s your dream car and no one else’s.