Monday, July 21, 2014

Restoration Lesson #1: Do not believe in magical pixie dust



With our restoration mainly behind us we decided it would be a good idea to share some of the lessons we learned when restoring our Dino. While these lessons can be transferred to a number of different projects, they are the product of our observations and experiences in dealing with a multitude of vendors and workers in the restoration and automotive service field. Our experiences have been diverse but certain constants seem to continue to pop up over and over again and it is these patterns that will serve as the basis for a series of posts aimed at helping fellow classic car owners. With that said I shall introduce our first lesson:

Do not believe in magical pixie dust

I can already sense the looks of confusion but allow me to explain. The classic car service and restoration industry is inundated with mainly self-proclaimed experts who tout their services as being special and not available anywhere else. Spend any time at a car show and you will hear stories of a mythical mechanic who is 'the only person I trust my car to'. This is normally followed by some tale of an iconic mechanic he trained under, or some special connection he has to the factory, or how he only tunes engines at dawn, etc., etc., etc.

We have come to call this indulgent self-promotion 'magical pixie dust' where owners very much believe that supernatural occurrences take place while their car is being serviced or restored at the hands of their perceived vehicular savior. Of course I am glorifying things a little here but we have met a countless number of vintage car owners that speak of their chosen service facility with a reverence normally reserved for a magician or sorcerer.

The reality is that a vintage car was built by human beings and will be repaired by human beings with the goal of this lesson being that it is most important to judge ACTUAL RESULTS rather than be blinded by the reputation that a particular person or shop has. Reputation has some value but it is the result YOU get and the quality of service YOU receive that truly judges how competent a particular technician is.

We fell foul to this on a number of occasions during our project falsely believing tales that ended up being as founded as a handful of magical beans. In the end we learned to not get wrapped up in elaborate stories but to coldly and methodically judge results in a vacuum devoid of over hyped emotion. As soon as we started doing this the quality of our results really increased as we began working with REAL professionals who would tackle problems methodically and would reference proper technical texts to ensure the correct results.

In the end a car is nothing more than a machine with a large number of numerical specifications to its many parts. Assembling to these specifications using good mechanical practices is where the real experts shine and there is no magic about it.

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