photos by: the author and various sources
Knowing When to Cut Ties with a Project Car
Have you ever found yourself at a crossroads in a relationship, whether it be with a friend, a girlfriend or a car? Where you have to weigh in whether or not the relationship is just as rewarding and fruitful as it had been in the beginning, or if it were getting to a point that it was time to severe ties?
I’m sure most of you have, as have I, and although it can sometimes be a tough decision to make it’s usually for the best. In this instance I’m referring to cars, obviously, though those same circumstances can be applied in our personal relationships as well.
Over the last year I was forced to make that decision, twice, with a couple of vehicles that I had owned. The first was my short-lived, daily-driven Saab 9-5 Aero, and the second, was a ’95 Trans Am that I had picked up for basically nothing. The T/A was initially destined as a cheap project car, but then once I realized it needed more work, attention, time and money that I was willing to lend it, I ultimately cut it loose.
The Saab on the other had, was an inexpensive daily driver I picked up to get me through the Northeast Ohio winters, that also lent double-duty; giving our current project vehicles a break from commuting while we tended to their maintenance, upkeep and performance upgrades.
It became one of those deals where the initial outlay was modest and all seemed well and good, but mechanical problems progressively started to arise and it eventually got to the point to where I was basically making a car payment on a car that was paid for — leading me to fix it, and sell it outright before anything else broke. I ultimately replaced it with The Mule.
These were the two most recent vehicles that I had to part with. I’ve probably owned nearly 20 cars since I’ve started driving; other examples include a 2006 CTS-V, 1998 Grand Prix GTP, ’79 Camaro and ’85 Grand Prix. Those, along with my ’92 Blazer, I sometimes wish I had kept. They were packed with loads of potential, and I sure wish I had still had the old Pontiac G-body for an LS swap candidate now.
The sad thing was, I actually quite liked all of these vehicles but the financial burden to maintain and/or endlessly repair them far exceeded their worth and my passion for their ownership. It was bittersweet letting the ’95 T/A and the Saab go, as well as some of the others, but I knew that my wallet would thank me later. I suppose it leads me to the next question; when is it time to cut the cord and part ways with that tired daily driver or a project car that’s too far gone?
Based on my experience, there really isn’t a “best time,” it’s only when you feel that you’ve reached the bottom of your bank account or the love is lost.