I often hear, “it must be great to have job doing something you’re passionate about.” I’m never quite sure what they mean. Is it some sort of “grass is always greener” comment that probably says more about their job than mine? Or, as I sometimes fear, is it about the misconception that because I do something that lives in the realm of a hobby for them, working on great (and sometimes not so great) old cars, that my day is pure passion. Filled with rainbows and sunshine, free of worry and stress. Sure some days there is sunshine, every so often a rainbow, but there are also mortgages, bills to pay, families to feed. So, passion? Yes, but tempered with ever present dose of reality.
That reality often comes in the form of the frustration at seeing the poor quality of previous repairs that have been performed on these cars. You can’t believe the work it takes to undo this damage, to make many badly formed aftermarket parts fit, or to struggle with the scarce availability of the parts themselves. And it’s so painful to see new floor pans dropped in and riveted over the old ones that have rusted out. Leaking cowls that have been duct-taped and sprayed with foam insulation in a poor attempt to stop water from dripping onto the floor. I could go on, but I’d just start weeping.
No matter what we see, the very first question is often, “what will it cost?” It’s a reasonable question, and I get it. People want to know what they’re getting into. But cars, particularly old, excuse me, particularly classic cars are more like a person than a machine (and a “classic” person at that).
So I get the question, I do, but we’re not psychics. Believe me, I wish we were. I wish we could use some of the fancy tools that your BMW dealer can plug in to tell you in a moment what’s wrong. Not us – that would dispel our passion, spoil the fun. That would take away our rainbows and sunshine. So, we dig in. Hell, it could be a brain tumor (similar to wiring problems with all of the synapses and stuff), or maybe you just need to take an aspirin and have an adult beverage or two. But we won’t know for sure until we get in there.
Passion, yup, we’ve got plenty of it, but I’ll tell you this, when I was a much younger man it meant something different. Now if you’ve read these blogs before, you know that I’m a “glass is half empty kind of guy”, so take this rant with a grain of salt. Because I also know we have a lot of glasses here. Now I gotta get back out to the shop and explore my passion. Rent’s due.