Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Time for a Reality Check - Assessing Your Cars Needs

Now that I have Number 2 permanently situated in my stable o' cars, it was time to take a step back and really look at it with un-biased eyes. This is a good idea to do with any project, especially one that you are going to use as a daily driver. What I do is create a check list of items that the car needs in order of importance. Usually there will be two columns, mandatory and optional. Don't worry if you don't know how to use Excel on your computer. I know how to use it but prefer not to! Nothing on my classic cars will be computerized, not even the check list! (this statement may be rescinded at any time) Here is the list that I came up with for Number 2:

Mandatory - Brake master cylinder; Rubber gas lines going to tank; Upper bushings and ball joints; Rear springs and Shocks; Rear quarter widow guide rollers; Heater core and valve; Oil change; Valve cover gaskets; Timing cover seal; Carb adjustment and/or tune-up; Drivers side door lock; Re-seal back glass; and finally a new windshield. Another mandatory item is that my wife never sees this list...

Optional - Rims and Tires; Dual exhaust; Stereo that you can hear; Recharge A/C and cross my fingers; Paint job; and probably an Interior.

Before you go out and go gung-ho on your parts list, I have some tips that might save you a few duckets. Next to my columns I usually leave enough room for 3 to 4 additional columns. In these columns I write the names of my local parts stores, like NAPA, Kragen, Autozone, etc. I then sit down and call each one to check the prices and availability on the parts that I need. Availability is important because no matter how cheap that part is, if it is not available it doesn't do you any good. Sometimes the price difference between each store is substantial. Let me give you an example from my parts list. I needed a master cylinder and wanted to buy a new one, so I called around and here is what I was quoted:

Carquest - $60.78

Autovalue - $48.25

NAPA - $37.99

Autozone - $29.97 w/lifetime warranty

Naturally I went with the Autozone part, not only because of the price but because it was the only one that offered a lifetime warranty. There is a $30 dollar price difference between the highest and the lowest. I don't know about you but that could buy me either a steak dinner, a lot of beer, or some more parts! I think I'll buy some beer...

I already did a couple of things so I could drive the car safely, like the master cylinder, so I won't bore you with the details. As I do the other items I will post them on here, with pictures, so you can follow along or maybe look at my articles for reference. You never know when something is going to break and sometimes it's kind of handy to see how it is done, so stay tuned for more stuff from Frank's Classic Car Garage.

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