Project Laguna got a weekend makeover last year. I peeled off most of the NASCAR graphics, swapped the 15-inch steelies for some 17x9 YearOne Five-Spoke Rally wheels, and converted the side-exit no-muffler exhaust to Flowmaster Super 40s with turndowns. It’s like having a completely different car, and it cost way less than a new project.
Hot rodding is based on the three-part concept that you obtain a neglected car in need of some TLC, you spend an indeterminate amount of money and time love rubbing it back to life, then you ride off into the sunset in its golden years. End of story, right? That sequence sounds like a pretty good plan, but it’s rarely the way it happens. You see, guys are scumbags. Just ask any woman. Guy meets girl, they fall in love, then months, years, or even decades down the line, the guy gets a case of the stink-eye for the cute cashier down at the Piggly Wiggly. He may act on that, or he might not, but let’s be honest; whether we’re talking about women or cars, men just aren’t terribly faithful. In the course of hot rodding—and it’s true that most hot rodders are guys—we tend to wander off the reservation way too often. (Disclaimer: This is not necessarily an admission of guilt on the part of the author!)
We get midway through a project, only for another fancier one to come rolling along. Look at your local Craigslist and you’ll see a ton of abandoned projects that have hit the bricks unceremoniously. In another scenario, we finish a car, only to promptly get bored with it. This riding-into-the-sunset-with-the-perfect-car business is a universal ideal all hot rodders seem to hold in high esteem, but very few guys actually pull off. I don’t think it’s for a lack of money or time either. I’ve seen a lot of guys finish some great cars over a 10-year period while spending only a few hundred clams at a time. It really is possible to accomplish something great on the most meager of budgets. No, something else is at play here. The culprit is an automotive wanderlust—the desire for “strange” iron.
When it comes to automotive unfaithfulness, a lot of guys go big. I know guys who own dozens and even hundreds of cars. “Car hoarders” come in two flavors—rich guys who can afford to restore ’em, and everybody else who just likes to collect jalopies. (Ever notice how most of them are Mopar guys? You ever met a Mopar guy who owned “just” four or five? That’s what I thought.) At the risk of mixing metaphors, these guys are like the cat ladies of the hobby who for all their good rescue intentions just ignore the plaintive mewling from the starving classics rotting away in their backyards. Oh, the humanity. There must be a better way!
But back to the unfaithfulness. Obviously, a car won’t care if your eye begins to wander, while your better half will probably slap you upside your head if you look at another woman. There is one other big difference between women and cars, and it’s a biggie. You can’t change your woman, but you can change your car. Heck yeah. While your woman would be deeply offended if you suggest she dress up like another woman, your ride ain’t gonna say jack.
We are mindful of the fact that 3 percent of PHR’s readers are female hot rodders. From where we stand, you ladies do a darned good job of sticking with one car until it’s completed, and then you love it to death. You’ve done a really good job of embracing the traditional notion of seeing a project to completion, then enjoying if for the long haul. Now that’s emotional commitment! We rarely see automotive philandering or hoarding from the gals, and that’s admirable. The guys could learn a thing or two from them, and probably get a lot more projects completed. On behalf of all guy hot rodders, I’d like to ask your patience and forgiveness for our wayward car acquisition behavior when it strikes. We just can’t help it. Or can we?
We submit for your examination the Weekend Makeover issue. When the ol’ boat doesn’t put the same sparkle in your eye, don’t sell her off—turn her into a new machine. Chances are, you’ve done most of the hard work already. Why start on a new car with an unknown set of mechanical horrors just waiting to drain your wallet dry? Turn Beatrice into Brittney, Gertrude into Gabrielle, or Agnes into Adriana. Doing a weekend makeover on your existing project—either a finished one as in the case of Robert McGaffin’s ’65 Olds Cutlass, or a newly acquired one like the CorteX ’60 Starliner, both in this issue—has the benefits of minimal cost and little down time, while maximizing your hot rodding pleasure. We’re not kidding anybody by saying you’ll never want a new project, but a makeover sure is a fun, inexpensive alternative that’s worth a look!