We're getting near the time of the year when many new projects are begun and older ones are being restarted.
On the subject of new projects, this covers a lot of brand new Camaro owners who just got their cars. Some are new to the hobby because their spouses told them to get a hobby to keep them busy after work or the kids are now out of the house. There are also some newcomers to the hobby from the younger generation who wish to get involved in a project with their parents. We say more power to them!
On that note, I got a call the other day from our "Resto Tech" contributor, Mark Lundquist, whose daughter Melissa has been helping him out on his Chevelle project and is quite enthusiastic about being involved. Mark said he decided to take Melissa's involvement in cars to a new level. So as a surprise for her, he went out and found a '73 Type LT. She called me a few days after getting the car and was absolutely stoked!
In 1973 there were a total of 96,137 cars built and only 32,327 had the LT option. Over the years, the attrition rate has not been too kind and the amount of survivors is not large. With that in mind, Melissa has a fairly rare car. I welcomed her to the hobby and let her know that no matter what her friends said, she was going to have a blast. She may also be going to school on Mondays with a bit of grease under her fingernails.
The next thing would be to take as many photos of the car as possible in its current state prior to any disassembly. This will help if there are any questions about where a part goes during the rebuild or what a part is supposed to look like after it is rebuilt.
I next mentioned that it would be good to get a binder with paper, a set of dividers, and one of those resealable plastic pen/pencil/supply holders. Label each section divider for a different part of the car: interior, body, paint, exterior trim, engine, transmission, front and rear suspension (including rear axle), and miscellaneous. In each of the sections make a list of what parts need to be rebuilt or replaced. The theory is that as you take care of that item, check it off the list of needed things and note the date. This helps out later on when you need to tell if you replaced/rebuilt a part or not. Place all of your receipts in the plastic pocket/holder. This will help out in several ways: 1) In case you need to take care of a warranty replacement you will have your receipts. 2) You will be able to keep track of what you spent on the parts. Your insurance company will thank your for doing this later should anything happen or if you are going for stated value coverage, then you'll be able to prove what you have into the car. This will also help in keeping you from going over budget.
Melissa asked how much she should spend on the car. I told her it depends on how involved she really wanted to get. If she chose to do a frame-off restoration, a street restoration, or the popular g-machine look, she'd be looking at three different budgets With those thoughts in mind I offered that before she got too far into the car, she needed to set herself up an overall budget. Also, referring back to the binder, in each of the sections she'd be smart to set up a maximum cost. In your projects, as you finish each section you may discover that you have extra cash to put towards another section. I have seen a lot of projects that were started, then never finished because the owner went way over budget and ended up abandoning or selling the unfinished machine.
Lesson, think smart. Remember not to spend too much on one section. For example, you may spend a large amount on a paint job and the car will look really great, but if you have nothing left over to spend on the rest, the paint job is pretty much all you've got. When it comes to deciding what section to do first, I would say that the best thing is to make sure that everything is 100-percent mechanically sound. Once that is done, then worry about how well things look.