In a fun-filled, often tragic, lifetime of buying, selling, restoring and racing 50-some automobiles since I bought my first car (a 1951 Buick Straight Eight) in 1964, you might say I’ve learned a few things.
Or you might not. The smart money says I haven’t, and so does the guy who checks the gas meter in my workshop. Nevertheless, I have come up with some hard and fast Garage Rules over the years, and any day now I’m going to have them chiseled on stone tablets in some classic script— Roman or Hebrew would look good— and mounted above my workshop doors. They are as follows:
- Never buy any car that was disassembled by someone else.
- Never buy a used race car that wasn’t driven off the track and straight onto a trailer after doing fairly well in its last race.
- Avoid any old road car that doesn’t start and run, but “should” or “used to.”
- Don’t, under any circumstances, buy a car you haven’t personally inspected and/or driven.
- Never let yourself feel pressured into buying a car.
- Don’t ever leave a half-full coffee cup or bottle of Guinness on your workbench for more than three weeks. If you do, check it before you take a big swig. Particularly in hot weather.
Okay, those are the rules. Now the reality of what’s actually in my workshop at this moment:
Exhibit 1 is a 1973 Lola 204 vintage Formula Ford. I bought the 204, fully disassembled, in a collection of rotting boxes that had been in a barn for about 10 years. I had to resist the impulse to load this car into my van using a Bobcat with a scoop shovel. Nearly four years later, the project is almost done, but I’m still trying to figure out why the shift linkage hits the bellhousing and why there are three different sizes of banjo fittings for the brakes.