Carry Your Weight: How We Keep a Healey Balanced During Restoration

Carry Your Weight: How We Keep a Healey Balanced During Restoration

Sport and Specialty - Carry Your WeightThere are sand bags hiding in these two Healeys.

We’re not waiting for a flood or storing for the sandblaster, we’re making sure that everything is in balance. To get the lines and gaps right you really need to weight a car’s chassis when you do a total body restoration.

Healeys are especially prone to sag a bit with age, making it even more challenging to get everything just right. Every spring I get calls from folks who install the engine and interior pieces of their car after the body has been restored, painted, or simply put back together. To their surprise, they find their doors don’t close, the style lines don’t match, or the body gaps have changed considerably.

What happened was as those pieces to the car were put back on, the extra weight of the engine or suspension has made the body flex just a little. That’s why you’ll see cars in our shop with sand bags strategically placed in our customer’s cars during restoration. It’s one of those things that years of experience have made the difference in how we prepare our classic cars.

Another quick tip for you do-it-yourselfers: Fit your chrome and trim when you are doing your bodywork and finishing. This too will save hours trying to make trim fit on a now altered (even if just a little) and painted bodywork. Send out those pieces out for chrome after you know it all fits properly.

Want to know more about some of the little lessons we’ve learned? Give me a call, drop me a line, or better yet schedule a time to take a tour of the shop.

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It’s Insurance Review Season: Do you even know what the limits are on your policy?

It’s Insurance Review Season: Do you even know what the limits are on your policy?

Write this down on your car’s to-do list: Check your classic car insurance coverage.


Do you even know what the limits are on your policy? Do you know what the current value of your vehicle is? If your car gets hit, will you be able to fix it or will it be a total because the entire amount will be used up?

Did you know that, depending upon the state, your insurance company can take possession of your car and sell it for parts or scrap when the payout exceeds a percentage of the limit of your policy?

Over the past five years we have taken in more than a few cars that have been underinsured. In a few cases, they have also had poorly repaired or restored work that must be re-done to fix a current issue. This typically puts me in the uncomfortable position of informing an owner that their beloved vehicle cannot be fixed for what it’s insured.

We don’t have an underinsured rate. It costs the same to properly fix a car regardless of the policy limits. We also don’t have a magic relationship with the insurance carrier where we can “work things out.” No winking and nodding goes on in my world.

A few other things to remember:

  • The policy will not pay to repaint the whole car if only a portion is damaged. You may get a decent color match, but you may end up with a half lacquer and half urethane finished car.
  • Be certain your carrier has adjusters on hand who are acquainted with, and the know how to properly fix your marque. Most don’t, and this will mean hours of time for your chosen repair facility in preparing addendums and correspondence. Most replacement body parts don’t “just bolt on”.
  • Pre-existing conditions don’t only apply to health insurance. New parts cannot be welded or bolted to filler and fiberglass repairs. Many times, this isn’t apparent until the job is underway. The repair for this is the responsibility of the car’s owner.
  • A super original collector car’s value will be significantly diminished once a significant collision repair has been performed. That is real money.

This isn’t an indictment of the insurance industry, simply a reminder that it’s our responsibility as owners and collectors to make sure that we are managing our investments wisely. It may certainly be worth a look!!

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New Year’s Resolution: Don’t Touch It!!!

New Year’s Resolution: Don’t Touch It!!!

The majority of our restoration work at Sport and Specialty doesn’t drive or roll into the shop. Most of our work is pushed in on a transport dolly and unloaded unceremoniously in a variety of mismatched wood and cardboard boxes. Sometimes we even see parts loaded up in old laundry baskets.

The projects come to us in many shapes and forms

Sport and Specialty - Project Cars gone wrong

Sometimes, what starts out as a project car ends up as a parts car, sadly.

Mostly the parts are worn out, rusty and dusty. Occasionally, the pieces and portions were treated to some sort of amateur restoration, long lost its newly painted sheen, and was never tested for use afterwards in a running and driving automobile. Usually, if lucky, the original fasteners abound in discarded coffee and margarine containers. It takes more time and costs more to inspect and inventory all of these items when the car comes in this way.

Don’t get me wrong, this is our bread and butter, and I love seeing these pieces come in. What breaks my heart sometimes is that someone simply abandoned the project when they got in over their head, because this all looks kind of easy on TV.

Assessing the projects

One of my least favorites is going out and assessing cars that have been disassembled, yet have beautiful new wheels and tires. That’s restoration with a Visa card and just dumb. Many times, the new wheels are beginning to pit already and the tires show no wear – but expired two years ago. The last thing done in car restoration should be new wheels and tires.

My professional advice is simple on this topic – if you own or find a major restoration candidate, stop right now! Take a deep breath and think for a few minutes. Most projects start out with extreme enthusiasm and the best of intentions.

Getting some advice

Call someone who has done this before, amateur or professional, and discuss how to best go about this serious undertaking. A detailed budget, a plan, some working room, organizational skills, and patience are as essential as mechanical skills. Don’t explode the car and figure out the rest later, it’s a sure recipe for disaster unless you’ve done a few of these.

Before you start taking it apart…

Finally, I try to relate to the owners of new projects that once you take them apart, they’re worth even less than that great deal you negotiated. Remember, a car in a million pieces is called a project, and worth a small portion of the finished product. On the other hand, a car that’s really rough – but still assembled – is called a barn find and can somehow be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.

So, take that deep breath, do a little homework, and leave the dust on until you’re ready!

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Public Service Announcement – Now’s the Time!

Public Service Announcement – Now’s the Time!

Hey, wake up! We’re here now! We’ve arrived! It’s 2016 and all of those car projects you were going to do this winter aren’t done. You know it and I know it. Why do I know it? Because my stuff isn’t done either!

Every fall I make a huge list of improvements and progress I want to make on my cars over the winter, and every spring nothing is running or looking quite the way I wanted because I think I have plenty of time. In my little cozy winter brain I see a few twenty-minute jobs with a few easily attainable parts. I’m old and experienced enough to know better, yet every year I do the same.[pullquote align=”right”]Then, on the first nice day, I immediately look at the salt residue on the street and think, “Crap, I didn’t put in the new fuel filter and I sure can’t get one at Auto Zone![/pullquote]There are no twenty-minute jobs with easily attainable parts! If there were I would have done them in the summer.

What I really did was put off lots of little things during the driving season to do over the winter. I put them on a list, and then moved the list out of sight while I enjoyed a little down time. Then, on the first nice day, I immediately look at the salt residue on the street and think, “Crap, I didn’t put in the new fuel filter and I sure can’t get one at Auto Zone!” So I pull out the carefully filed list, curse myself for not paying attention, again, and promise myself I will order the parts this week. Usually I don’t, because it snows again and I get depressed and angry that it won’t turn 70 degrees in Chicago by the second week in March. Yes, I do this every year!

Because the end of April is a bad time to try and begin your work. Everyone without ADD bought your parts, and your parts will be backordered until June. Many of the parts you do buy will be wrong, junk, or just won’t fit and need to be returned. The parts that are right will also need a companion part, that wasn’t mentioned in the repair book, which is also back ordered, junk, or forged from unobtainium. You lose a minimum of a week or so for every part issue keeping you from finishing your project and enjoying your car!

For my racing friends, here’s a good place to start:

  • Look at the expiration dates on your belts
  • Check the pressure in your fire system
  • Check the build date and foam in your fuel cell
  • Make sure there were no last minute tech issues on your log book
  • Buy new tires now, and get them mounted and balanced
  • How were your pads and rotors at the end of last season?
  • Do you have a current physical on file or in hand?

We all know the drill and somehow this year the stars will align and I can get everything ready in a few hours without any issues. That is hilarious!

So, find or create your list of to-dos for your car. Carefully review the anticipated parts needed, and get to it! Start today! Any day now the and emails will be coming in about Spring tours, drives and driving schools. This year, extend your season, and lets get ready and enjoy an early start this year.

Check this site for racing and driving events I hope to be participating in this year, they will be added soon. All are welcome – let’s have some fun!

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