Time to get back to earth. "Automotive Equity" What is it and how do you achieve it? Pretty simple, just build on your foundation and each improvement will pay off in a car in better condition and will allow you to amortize the costs over a longer period. Some investors buy stocks this way, they invest maybe five hundred bucks a month over the years. Dollar cost averaging I think it's called. Of course we all do the same thing, we try to squeeze a little money out of our monthly budget to keep our project cars moving forward. Figuratively and literally! No extra money, no work on the car. I read a post on the H.A.M.B. (Hokey Ass message board, check it out), discussing their project car budgets. Most of the responders are regular working or retired guys. One older guy said that he usually limits himself to 25.00 a week. He saves up week to week to make bigger expenditures. During that time he will do the labor intensive projects like disassembly, scraping and cleaning the motor and chassis, minor bodywork and sanding and painting, In this manner the car progresses steadily. Most of these guys are wheelers and dealers also, buying and flipping old parts and cars to help generate a little extra income.
Taking the long view is not something I'm very good at, at least when it comes to project cars. I have kept some cars, like my first '66 Riviera for many years. Once I got it into running condition it became my Daily Driver. I kept that car in good mechanical shape and trusted it enough to drive to Klamath Falls Oregon and down to Santa Maria. Unfortunately my stand on cheap paint jobs had not evolved and it looked like crap during those years.
Building on a good foundation is important. I have spoken with many older guys at car shows who own early hot rods, customs, and muscle cars and they have told me the same thing. " I've had this car for: ten, twenty, even thirty years" Then they add " I couldn't afford to buy this car now." It has taken them years to achieve the finished project, I salute their dedication and financial acumen, especially if their current car is now worth a small fortune. But this really applies to any car, even my poor little Mustang. I've had this car for about a year and a half and I've brought this car up to a acceptable level of functionality and appearance. There's still a lot more left to do. I've been pretty good on keeping the costs down, for a good reason. I don't have a lot of money to throw at the car and it would be a poor financial choice. If I can keep the car for at least another year I can improve the condition of the interior, detail it out under the hood and make some final low buck improvements to the appearance. But that's the point, I've got to keep the car. I've got to maintain my interest and enthusiasm. My interest is wavering. I've decided that I won't be swapping in a V8 or upgrading the transmission or chassis. It will be a good reliable base car that can be driven and enjoyed by myself and the next owner. I'll let the next owner decide how much further he wants to take the car. And I'll buy something else.