By Bob Hoke
Stalled. This term has several meanings to those in our hobby. Usually it applies to some vehicle which has conked out because it isn’t running very well. There is another common use however – the stalled project. We’ve all heard stories about some interesting vehicle that is sitting somewhere not doing the owner much good. Some are in their raw, untouched form, while many others have had some work but are far from completed. Most of the owners have big plans for these stalled projects, but the demands of life, and more often than not the lack of funds are getting in the way. In the meantime they take up a lot of space, and the years go by.
Not long ago several of us here at Eckler’s had the pleasure of speaking with a customer who has owned an early C3 Corvette for years, but has never had the pleasure of driving it. To his credit, he has been able to restart his project and is close to having it on the road. It won’t be finished, but it won’t be sitting in his garage either. This prompted discussion about how many hobbyists are facing this same situation, and how it may be possible to find a way to enjoy their vehicles rather than just letting them sit.
Everyone agreed that one of the common threads with older American cars and trucks is that the major mechanical systems – engine, transmission, suspension, and differential – are so overbuilt that they can often take amazing amounts of abuse and neglect and still function reasonably well. Even the electrical systems are very forgiving. That leaves the peripheral systems like cooling, fuel, brakes, exhaust, and tires which are keeping them off of the road. The great thing about being in this hobby in 2016 is that the parts and services to repair these systems are mostly available and can be had without mortgaging the house. Because these systems are relatively simple, they don’t require years of training to understand either. However, since those also happen to be the systems that ensure the vehicle is safe and reliable, any repairs should be taken seriously.
With all of that in mind, we’d like to introduce you to our own stalled project car – a 1974 Z/28 Type LT. It is a very good basic car which has had a great deal of restoration work done to it. For the past several years however, it has been languishing in a garage with questionable fuel delivery, too-old-to-be-safe tires, a cobbled-together exhaust system, and multiple brake problems. In upcoming issues, there will be chronicles about attacking these areas with the intention of getting it back on the road so it is safe, fun, and reliable. It won’t be a show-car, but it won’t be just another stalled project either.
So our question to you is this: Do you have a basically complete older vehicle tucked away somewhere that would be enjoyable if you could use it? If so, you could be doing yourself and other enthusiasts a favor to get it on the road. Survivor vehicles and those with ‘patina’ are getting more popular every day. People love to see them! You will have something you can relax with and enjoy, too. Throw in some lawn chairs and take it to the park for a picnic. Roll down the windows, load up some kids and take them for ice cream some evening. Even if your future plans include a nut-and-bolt rotisserie restoration or radical customization, it is useful to start with a functional machine. Down the road you may discover that the best memories you have of your vehicle were made after you released it from hibernation and before it was done!