To begin, or not to begin, that is the BIG question....
Many European car enthusiasts enjoy creating a vehicle with enhanced performance and styling modifications; and as I mentioned in Part 1, I’ve certainly have been no exception to this kind of fun and games! In fact, I’ve finished several extensive performance car projects that were each over two years in the making. However, at some point in each and every project I stop to catch my breath and ask myself: “What the hell possessed me to start this whole process to begin with?”. When I look back each time on the entire process, it involves a long hard road filled with both unique problems and sweet triumphs. But by the end, I have learned many new technical tidbits, met several interesting and helpful people, and I end up driving a truly unique performance car that I absolutely enjoy everyday. That is, until the urge strikes me again! So what makes us endure these sometimes lengthy labors of love?
As true enthusiasts, we always want “MORE”; more power, more braking, more cornering, more “sporty-ness”, more uniqueness, and of course, way more FUN. Did I say more power? Ok, good! This is very important. It is our enthusiast nature that forces us to determine what needs to be improved and we set out to do just that. My usual goal is modern “Porsche–like” performance at a more affordable price. Some, like myself, enjoy the “hunt” and “challenge” of a prospective project; the research, the imagination, the testing, the problem solving, the budget balancing, and the mechanical or physical labor. Other questions one considers are: Do we improve what we currently own? Do we move up to something better and begin work from there? Or do we just step up and purchase exactly what we want (if it is actually available. Hmmm, the new 997.2 GT3)? Regardless, one has to choose a platform very carefully, and then tip the proverbial economic balance of: should we just save up for the specific car we want, or should we design and create a truly unique performance car? Ultimately, you will have to pay with either cash and/or your time. You will still have the pride of ownership in the end, but what it really boils down to is, “Do I want to get my hands dirty or not?”. I guarantee you will have to get “dirty” in some form at some point along the way when you are involved with a “Project Car Project”.
Getting “down and dirty” in a project car project can take on many forms. Of course, doing your own labor can be extremely satisfying. Old fashioned “elbow grease” or “sweat equity” can be credited for many a project car over the years, and after all, someone has to put the amazing new creation together. This is a great way to save yourself a lot of money; however, one has to be aware of your own technical level of competence in order not to degrade your project.
The “General Contractor” method of creating a project car is becoming more and more popular because today’s European Cars are so technologically advanced. As enthusiasts, we are well aware of the many specialized tuning companies available in the marketplace to do the some, or most, of technical work for us. We therefore take on a secondary roll, which guides the necessary technical work by the contracted tuning company, with dreams, designs, ideas, and research. We must also help deal with problems that arise during the course of the project: timing issues, shipping, technical issues, quality control, and OEM warranty issues (I should write a blog on this nasty topic!).
One can also just search the marketplace for a completed project car, and just buy the damn thing! There is no shame in this at all, as you will still be representing your taste for uniqueness and performance by driving such a car. And you will have saved yourself a lot of time and, likely, a little bit of cash as well. But then again maybe not! Look for a fully documented car.
Anyway, building a project car is a great adventure filled with decisions, challenges, compromises, excitement, learning and an opportunity to meet some talented and friendly people. But remember, on any “Project Car Project”, large or small, the process never really ends until you ultimately sell the vehicle. New products come out, your tastes change, or you just plain want more. Your imagination and pocket book are really the only limiting factors.