Now I am left with owning only the Bird and the Mustang, and I have decided that I want to keep both of them. I now need to figure out how to do that. A couple of months has passed since I made this decision. I quickly decided that I needed to not just save up a large sum of money to totally fix both cars in one busy season after years of saving.
Lets look at the condition of each car, starting with the favorite of the two, the Mustang. She’s wrecked, that is the obvious part. She only took damage to the front end, since it was a slow-moving accident. Also, there was no damage sustained by the engine, as the frame did completely protect it. So, we have a car that has sustained a large amount of damage to the front cosmetic parts, including the hood, bumper, fenders and lights, and minor damage to the front frame. Luckily that is the extent of the real damage, but it isn’t a cheap fix either.
When we get past those parts of the car what are we left with? There is a lot of regular damage to the engine that comes from it sitting too long. Oh, and regular wear and tear from it having 170k miles on it. That with the fact that it has set for so long, it will likely need to have and plastic or rubber lines replaced, as well as any filters. It will need new oil, battery, and it is currently missing an alternator. Some of the wires have been chewed through due to a now dead mouse.
Going back from the front end, the rest of the car is in more or less the condition I left it in, with only one exception. The rubber seals and insulation has started to dry and rot. It will be necessary to replace those. I tore up the steering wheel a long time ago when I was still driving her, nerves habit to pick at the rubber while driving. It still works, but it wouldn’t hurt to replace it. The driver’s side seat had started to flatten and wasn’t working properly, before the wreck, and the doors are sagging on both sides. The door panel on the driver’s side came off and broke the latches that hold it on when the door fell. She is fairly dusty from sitting and needs a full cleaning. There are a few minor things that need fixed, including lights, a panel dial and the latch on one of the back seats. Outside of the wrecked area, it’s all pretty standard wear with age.
The Bird has a lot of the same issues, but in running and not wrecked condition. The main issues with this one is a lot of minor issues combined, but a lot of minor issues can add up to a big problem. If we start back one month ago, both doors sagging slightly, with the exterior and interior door handles broken on the driver’s side. The ignition wires are starting to make noise like they are going to go out soon. There is a small fuel like somewhere, the fuel filter needs changed. The water pump for the windshield fluid doesn’t seem to work. The paint is chipping off in several places around the car, exposing bare metal which is starting to show rust. The lock on the trunk isn’t working, you have to use the button only. There is an oil leak and it either goes through a lot of coolant, or there is a leak in the radiator system.
Like I said, she runs and has no one major issue, but a lot of minor issues which are starting to add up, but they are all easy to repair, just time and money that it takes to do it. With in the last month the hinges and interior handle on the driver’s side door have been fixed, and we think we have gotten the fuel leak under control for now. To add to all of this, I have decided to use all of this to teach my kids to fix cars. While they reluctantly humor me in helping, they don’t always act like they want to.
So, now I am left with a full idea of what needs done, a reason to do it, and maybe some help that will slow me down by dragging their feet and complaining. When it comes to fixing up an old car, what more can a dad ask for? What I am trying to work out at this point is the plan to do it. My first thought was maybe to strip the parts I need to fix up the Bird off the Mustang. That would get the Bird restored and in good condition quickly, which would be nice and might boost the spirits of my helpers about doing to see it getting done. The problem I came back to though was pretty simple. Even if I keep an inventory of the parts I used, how long will it be before I am able to replace them on the Mustang, if ever? No, that isn’t an option. She is already missing an alternator because I was thinking this way, and I don’t want to get to that point that there is enough off her that we reach the point of no return and she never gets fixed in favor of the Bird.
The choice I reached on this was to do this. I am going to continue to save the larger amount of money in favor of my two to three-year plan to get the body damage fixed on the Mustang, but I am reevaluation my budget so to include a sum of money to be able to work on both cars and their non body damage now. The idea being that over the next year or less, I get the Bird in as good running order as I can, with new seals and lines and working back breaks. Then, and only then, I will start working on the Mustang. Importantly, no more parts to repair the Bird come from the Mustang, there is a budget in place to prevent that now. After I am satisfied with the condition of the Bird, well except for the paint that’s chipping off everywhere, I will start doing the same to the Mustang.
I also want the boys to learn on the Bird, if they mess up the first time, I don’t want it to be on the Mustang where they do it. When I start working on the Mustang, I want to have help that knows what the tool I’m asking for is and where to find it, which comes with experience. Plus, I have to be honest, I lost interest in working on cars when my poor Mustang quit working, so I need a little practice getting back in the swing of things.
After the Bird is done, the Mustang will be a daily project. I plan to be on her at least a few times a week at the least. The plan is to have a new part each week, no matter how minor, and to work on issues not requiring new parts the rest of the week. That can be finding parts that need replaced, cleaning or maintaining the exterior or interior, or cleaning a part that is showing wear but doesn’t need replaced. The hope is that in the two years of working on her, she will be shiny, clean and purring when I take her in to have the body repaired. That will leave me with two good running cars, that just need paint jobs. Then I can decide if I want to try to do some restoring of interiors and so on.
I don’t know how this plan will work out, I can only hope I get my girl fixed and have a fixed up friend for her in the process, but I can’t tell what might be down the road for me. I only hope that in three years time I can report on how I am saving for paint for my two working cars, my Mustang and my Thunderbird.