AACA – SHould you restore your car?

Enjoy this editorial by AACA's West Peterson, published in the January/February 2019 edition of Antique Automobile.

Don't Do That

I’ve seen and heard it a thousand times. Someone ... not always  a novice ... will seek advice on what to do with a project car they’ve either discovered, inherited, or have been thinking about purchasing. Almost without fail, a person who feels they have influence will quickly chime in: “Don’t restore it. You’ll end up with way more money in your project than it’s worth.”

Do not restore your car. Your costs will far exceed the value of the finished product.

I often wonder if similar situations occur outside our antique car hobby. Say, for instance, a group of friends are standing around and out of the blue one of them declares, “I’m thinking of taking up golf. What do you all think?” Taking a page from the book of the influential advisor above, the first response would be, “Don’t do it. Your costs will far exceed the value of those score cards at the end of each round.” After all, there are clubs to buy, special shoes to wear, appropriate (or inappropriate) outerwear, country club fees, tee-time fees, caddy fees, golf cart rental (or purchase, along with a trailer), 19th-hole spending, etc. The retail value of each of those items is practically nothing once they’ve left the shelf, with little or no possibility of them being worth anything within our lifetime. 

Here’s my take: It’s a hobby. For as long as I’ve been in the antique car hobby — six decades now — it’s been just that ... a hobby. Hobbies contribute to the benefit of not only the person involved, but the people around them. Fellowship is enriched as individuals are fulfilled, have more to offer and share with family, friends and colleagues. It’s not about the end result, it’s about the journey, the friendships, the camaraderie, the relationships, the pride in craftsmanship, and most of all, the memories. It’s also about spending time with family ... twisting wrenches and sharing the driving with sons, daughters, grandparents, and your spouse. 

Just as golf is for the majority of those who commit time to it. Should we even try to quantify the enrichment received in having a hobby? In my opinion, no. With our cars we spend years restoring, maintaining and cleaning our pride and joy, taking it to shows and/or tours all around the country, constantly trying to make it look as nice as possible if not trying to improve its appearance. In fact, as we’re raising a glass with great friends at the end of a fun day on the road or on the show field, our spirits are raised as well. Priceless.

In my opinion, the pursuit of any hobby is not worthwhile if the only goal is to become better off financially.

Think of the relationships forged through AACA as you consider donating to the AACA Building Fund. The Antique Automobile Club of America is a club devoted to help you enjoy your hobby in ways in which you could never do on your own. It’s well worth it, both for you and the hobby.

 – West Peterson


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