Car Shows and Pimping Rides

When I started doing this, I never thought it would become such a huge part of my life. Sure, I never intended to put so much work and effort into it without turning it into a full-time job, but I also wanted to leave some room for failure, because you never know. Nevertheless, it turned out a success and I’m happier than ever. And really, how many people get to turn their passion into their main source of income, and get to travel and meet so many like-minded people?

I often get invited to car shows, and I make sure I don’t miss out on any, but there are so many in this country, the only way you can attend all of them is if you clone yourself, like, 10 times, and then you won’t miss out on any. Mind you, I often get invited just as a guest, not only when I have to show some of my own work. I also get invited as a speaker or juror, which is very cool. I never thought I’d get to have the opportunity to actually talk publicly about my work, and even give advice to people who want to start doing it, and help them in that way.

At these car shows, some people often come up to me and start asking if I can install some gadgets into their cars. I’m always patient with them, but can’t help but be bewildered at their ignorance. Restoring old cars doesn’t mean I turn them into spaceships. I don’t put TVs in them so you can watch something during a road trip, or put a soda maker (credit: Appliances Reviewed) so you have refreshments – it’s not that kind of a makeover.

I wanna clarify that I’m not against that, but it’s not what I do. Car restoration has its own kind of excitement, even though you don’t get to install some cool additions in your car. Restoring old cars is exciting primarily because of the thought that you get to turn something old and virtually unusable into something beautiful and worth possessing, not to mention one of a kind.

I especially love it when I restore an old classic. This rarely happens, but it’s so worth it – the hours, the sweat, the pain, the sleep deprivation, all of it. Plus, I know I’m doing something green for the environment, so that’s an additional perk.

Have you been to any car restoration shows?

A Second Life for a Bike

When you have your own junkyard, you become known in the neighborhood for repair and restoration. Many people come seeking rare parts to bring a car or bicycle back to life. When you turn an item that has seen better days into an almost-new object, you feel a great deal of personal pride. Most anything can be refurbished if you have the right components. Recently that meant applying some bike chain lube to help a friend bring new life and luster to his old bike. Getting it into working shape again was a simple task. Sometimes it means going on line to find missing parts of a different nature. You would be simply amazed at what can be acquired on eBay. I usually have something that would work, but if not, it takes a few days to get it. Come to me for all your repurposing needs. I am here to improvise.

I like to improvise and repurpose parts in new ways. I started the junkyard years ago with cast off parts from old cars and bikes that no longer had a purpose. As more people came in search of something specific from the inventory, the contents of the yard grew. You take something away, you leave something behind. I like the idea that I am participating in recycling in my own way. It brings me joy to bring a second life to a car or bike. I am the ultimate Mister Fixit. There are worse titles to bear.

To make it easier for searchers, I have organized the junkyard by category of item. Car parts go here; bicycle part go there. People make a beeline for what they need and start poking around. I know where most everything is so I can find something in a jiffy. Just stand back and let me do my work. It takes minutes to find that perfect old part. You might see this as working with a lot of metal bric-a-brac, but I see it as creativity in the making. Each part has a story to tell. I love to guess where the part has been and who owned the vehicle that contained it.

A junkyard is a great big repository of stuff. You never should underestimate something’s usage. If you have been around a lot of cars and bikes, you can guess in about ten seconds what you have in your hand. If I have to do a little research, so much the better. It is part of the mental nature of the process. It is interesting how many people want to remake something like a bike rather than buying a new one. I think it is more than the cost. It is fun to see how far you can go. Let’s say someone gives you a frame and it turns out to be a valuable antique one. Now is the time to get down to business filling in the parts. It is an adventure all its own.

I was Green Before it was Cool

It might not be obvious to everyone else, but I view my junkyard as more of a rescue mission for reclaiming old cars that would otherwise end up decaying in the elements behind an old farmhouse. Too many of them are allowed to rust out and become useless scrap that ends up in refuse sites. My approach to recycling is pretty transparent. I see the junkyard business as a green approach to commerce.

Impact of junkyards on the environment

While it may be true that not all junkyards are ran as well as they could be, those of us who are sensitive to the needs of the planet keep our yards fairly orderly and we know what we’ve get and where it’s at. If there’s any merit, we keep a car for resale as a restoration project or for gleaning the usable parts.

We’re taking old cars that owners have no use for and categorizing the parts so old car buffs like myself, can find the treasured parts that can help them keep their restoration projects as original as possible. Yep, we’re recyclers and we’re doing our part to help keep the planet green. Every part that we sell is one less that needs to be manufactured in a factory. It’s a way to re-use the existing parts and lessen the amount of resources and energy that are used.

Disposition of waste

After everything is taken that can possibly be valued by another person, the remnants can usually be recycled for use in other products. Metals from the skeletons of parted out cars are used for scrap metal recycling and they are transformed from junk to something that is of value instead of landing in the local dump. This not only helps to keep the planet green, it makes more space in the yard for the next old car that will go through the same recycling process. It just makes sense to use every aspect of a resource in the wisest possible way with the current situation of our environment.

When you consider how many cars termed as “junk” are littering our environment, we’re talking about mega tons of waste. Most junkyard dealers understand the impact that we can have by taking the problem off of the hands of private citizens and using our companies to perpetuate the recycling of these old and seemingly useless cars, trucks and RVs. In essence, we’re cleaning up the streets and countrysides and funneling the unwanted waste through a fairly efficient system that rechannels parts and materials back into society in a very useful manner.

Trash into treasure mentality

Anyone who participates in recycling whether it’s saving aluminum cans and newspapers for recycle bins or operating a junkyard that accepts unwanted vehicles, is really doing a lot to make their neighborhoods and the world in general a better place to live for us and for our children and upcoming generations. When the bottom line is use what you can and transform the rest, we’re on a positive track that I believe makes a tremendous impact. Yes, I was in fact green before it was cool and you know what? It feels great to be a part of something positive!


Where Cars Go to Die


When old cars die and they’re no longer wanted there are a few different places that they go. Some just sit in an old field behind a barn. If there’s any known value associated with them, they may sit in a storage area like a shop or barn, or they’re taken to a junkyard. The worst scenario is leaving a car that has seen better days to rust and deteriorate out in the open where the elements further destroy any salvagable parts.

Two different scenarios

A car that is no longer in good operating condition may be considered as useless by the owner. This doesn’t necessarily mean that it has no value. This is a discretionary assessment and what is junk to one person may be a great treasure to another. I favor the treasure aspect in most cases. Determining the most appropriate place for a car that has “died” depends on a few factors. If the car is in a condition that makes it a good candidate for restoration, I’m on board with that. It belongs in the hands of a dealer that can get the remains into the right hands for restoration.

The junk yard isn’t always the last hurrah for cars that have stopped working. The second scenario is that a vehicle that is not a good candidate for restoration or refurbishing can still be useful for gleaning parts for use in other vehicles. If there are no salvagable parts then the best solution is to have the car scrapped to recycle the materials which remain.

Strategies for finding the best solution for unwanted cars

If you have an old car that is little more than an eyesore on your property, it’s time to take action. Even if you don’t think it has any real value, it’s a good idea to check it out before you act. A quick online search can help you in finding out if the model that you possess has value as a collectible. Even if you see signs of rust or other deterioration, there are restoration buffs who don’t flinch at tackling challenging projects.

If your old eyesore happens to show any potential, you could list it on a site that caters to the type of vehicle that it is to get the information in front of the most interested parties.You could make some cash while conveniently getting it relocated to a new owner. If you find that there isn’t any real value associated with the vehicle, the junkyard is probably the best option. Here, the parts can be salvaged for re-use and the skeletal remains recycled for use in new products. You will have done your part in helping to save the environment.

My 2nd Amendment Rights

I need to protect my assets. I have worked hard to acquire them over the years. There are indeed some valuable items in my junkyard. I would be seriously unhappy to have a robbery on my property. I suppose everyone feels vulnerable in some way. I have read the reports and theft is not infrequent in my area. One poor soul had his car stolen and several expensive tools in his garage, right under his nose. I don’t want to be a victim so I have taken action and acquired a gun. It is my right.

I bought it after I had purchased a lot of car parts that seem to be a magnet to car thieves. It is sometimes hard to acquire them so there are always people on the hunt and I am known to have the best selection. Customers make a beeline to my shop so why not robbers. Hence the gun. I feel protected and able to handle any unforeseen circumstances. It is a good feeling.

I felt that there was a possibility that a neighborhood child could wander in and spot the gun so I have also purchased a small gun safe that holds my single weapon. I keep the safe under a wood counter that I use as a work bench. It is out of sight and out of harm’s way. You hear of gun accidents with kids all the time and the consequences can be dire. Almost always a shooting, however unintentional, can be fatal.

I found a very sturdy gun safe made of heavy metal that is too heavy to lift. That is important as a thief could make off with it otherwise. It has a keypad for which you need a secret code. As an alternative, you can use your fingerprint. This is the newest modern technology. I feel secure that the gun safe is child proof. I don’t want to test this theory. I won’t be showing the gun or the safe to anyone. One customer did ask me if I had protection and I didn’t answer. He started talking about his gun at home to respond to thieves, but I showed apathy. I didn’t want to reveal my own possession.

Several months later, I was in the yard and heard voices. They could be customers and I was being a bit paranoid. There had been a recent theft in the neighborhood and they never caught the culprit. Mercifully, there were no robbers on my property, but I would have been ready. I don’t want to shoot another human being, but if a thief has a gun, I might have to retaliate to protect myself. I would rather talk him out of any wrong doing if I could. A gun is the ultimate recourse. Retail shop owners all have them in a safe in the back, so I am told. What else do you expect us to do when we are threatened.

Knight with a Shining Toolbox

I don’t romanticize my life as a rule, but there was one time that I was a knight with a shining toolbox. I actually have a small well-equipped emergency toolbox that I can take with me to make offsite repairs. This time it was for my girlfriend who called in a panic for help when her small hot tub stopped working. She was just about to receive a guest and had promised a few relaxing girl time hours in the tub. “Would I rush over?” she begged. I was not about to turn her down. I had just finished a long, hard job and was taking a breather. I got in the van, put the toolbox in the back, and speedily drove to her house.

She was waiting at the door. I knew where the hot tub was in the yard and made a beeline for it. I pulled out some tools and laid them on the ground. Then I took a look. The heater had detached from the hot tub wall and as a safety measure, it automatically went off. This was going to be an easy fix. I tightened a few loose screws after setting it upright. I turned it on after flipping the restart switch, the kind you see on bathroom appliances. The heater was now working perfectly and the water was warming up. We thought that we might even see the full temperature by the time her friend arrived. And soon enough she, too, was at the door.

Everyone was grateful and thrilled and the ladies changed into swimsuits and jumped into the soothing warm water. I declined an invitation. I did accept to have a glass of wine with them and a few snacks. We talked and shared recent stories but I wanted to leave. This was their time and I was an outsider. After all, I was just the knight/repairman. Once again my handy toolbox had saved the day. I have repaired so many things over the years apart from cars. I have a pretty nice parts inventory so I can handle even unusual requests.

I went home pleased as punch and now that I was rested, I resumed some repair work. I also had time to search the Web for used car parts. I am always buying something and the Internet is a true gold mine. If you want a certain make and model, just type in what you want in the search engine. In a few days, a package will arrive. I sell parts all the time so my stash has to be replenished. People bring me things or sell me things that are valuable. So, business rolls along. How many of us can say that we enjoy what we do? I love meeting other aficionados. We are a small coterie that keeps in constant touch. Let me end with an invitation for you: come on over. You will be surprised with what you find.

Original Parts vs New

There has been a lot of debate over whether it’s best to go with original parts or new ones. There are pros and cons associated with each, but which is best is largely determined by your intention and desired outcomes. We’ll dedicate some time to addressing this issue because it can have a major impact on the value of the vehicle as well as the performance.

Restored versus Refurbished

First it is important to understand that there is a difference between a vehicle that has been restored and one that has been refurbished. Most seasoned car collectors who are savvy about car values and the factors used to make value assessments will have a solid understanding of the differences. Because there is so much disagreement among dealers, some collectors and hobbyists, I’d like to contribute some helpful definition with a thorough explanation of the differences.

Restoration means that the car has been rebuilt in the same way that it was originally produced from the manufacturer. The parts used in the process must be original in order for the car to be “restored.” This also extends to the paint. It must be the exact shade that the original production featured when it rolled off of the line. Of course you can use any color and type that was particular to that model of vehicle, but it must be exact in order to qualify as a complete restoration. It must be in exactly the same condition as it was originally with no new innovations built in and no departures from originality with the interior or exterior.

When an old vehicle has been redesigned with any new mechanical systems or aftermarket parts it has been refurbished instead of restored. Any departures from original interior upholstery, interior or exterior paint or trim or changes in the suspension from factory specifications results in a refurbished car. You can rebuild the most beautiful and high performing vehicle with all of the bells and whistles, but if it is refurbished, the odds are that it won’t be as high in value to a true collector as one that is restored to original specifications.

What’s the difference?

What really matters when it comes to deciding which road to take on whether to restore or refurbish is your overall intention for the vehicle. If your goal is to end up with a collector’s piece that will retain the highest possible value it’s best to go for all original parts. If your intention is to rebuild the vehicle to look or perform a certain way that departs from the original, refurbishing can save you a little time and money in some cases. It’s a good idea to check into all of the particulars about the specific vehicle you have in mind for your project before you begin. This can help you to determine the best approach to take. If you have a car with a potentially high value for restoration it might be a good idea to stick with restoring over refurbishing.

Is it Cold in Here or is it Just Me?

I am the type of person who loves summer and warm weather. I don’t panic if the weather report says that it is going to be really hot. I have an outdoor garage ceiling fan so no matter. If it is really toasty, I have a floor fan as well that I can move to wherever there is an outlet. So, far however I have not tackled what to do when it gets cold as it often does in late fall through the winter. One January day, the news was out that an extreme cold front was coming. People would be barricading themselves in the house. I would be shutting the garage door for sure, but that would not be enough. I didn’t want to take time off and miss some opportunities, so I thought long and hard.

What do other people do I asked? They buy portable heaters for the home. Not everyone has central heating, especially not in the garage. The good news is that I have several outlets in my work space to accommodate the appliance. I bought a trustworthy patio heater for my garage that came highly recommended. I put it in a central location to heat the room. I could move it to my work bench area if needed. What a welcome relief!

Someone else needed relief. One day a small neighborhood boy knocked on the door and asked to come in. He had gotten locked out of his house and he said he was just freezing. I felt so sorry for him. He didn’t have his mother or father’s cell phone number so that I could call. I let him stay and watch me work. He soon became bored. I gave him an assignment to keep him preoccupied. I let him sort my nails according to size and put them in compartments. He loved the job. He had to stay a couple of hours and he finished by late afternoon. I walked with him to his home and by this time his parents had arrived. This story has a happy ending. I loved the company and made a tiny new friend. That new heater was a godsend. I kept warm for the cold season and had helped a little being. People can die of the cold if they are caught unaware or outdoors for too long. Perhaps I had saved the child from frostbite.

You get immune to the cold after a wild and become used to stiff fingers. It makes it harder to work on small scale jobs. My next purchase to go with the heater was a pair of thin work gloves. I had thought about this for years but had not found the right kind. Most are too heavy to give you flexibility. As always, the Internet brought me luck. You can find most anything for the right price on line. When I need swim fins, a motorcycle helmet, or cowboy boots, I know where to go.

At Your ServAIRce

I am here to help the neighborhood. Sure, I sell parts and work on cars, but there is more to my magic. I have an air compressor in the shop to inflate tires and also bike tires and sports balls, especially for the kids. My personal motto is “I am at your service.” It has given me a good reputation and I have benefited from it in terms of cold, hard cash. I don’t just help people to get money, but it seems to be the outcome. After all, I have to live. There are expenses to pay and inventory to buy.

There is no limit to the age of my “customers.” Let me tell you a story. One day, a small child came by with tears in his eyes. His bicycle wasn’t holding him on and he couldn’t ride. His mother wanted him to go to the corner store for an emergency item and he wasn’t able to oblige her. This made him very upset and he had to walk. That is the good old-fashioned mode of transportation short distances. As soon as he returned and gave his mother the purchase, he needed to visit a friend on the next block. He was in a panic not ever having a lack of access to his trusty bike. I don’t know how he knew of me, but he wandered in with the bike in tow. I immediately saw the problem. He had a flat. That was an easy fix. I got out the air compressor and took care of it. I never saw such a happy face. It took no time at all and he was on his way. He thanked me and shook my hand—so cute for one so young.

The next day he returned with a plate of cookies covered by aluminum foil. I guessed that his mother was also thankful and wanted to give me a token of her appreciation. I asked the small boy to sit down with me and watch me work. He seemed fascinated with all the contraptions in the garage. We shared the cookies and had a little chat. He told me about his family, school, friends, sports activities, and hobbies. He proclaimed that now that he had seen me work, a new one would be car parts. I was so flattered!

Soon more kids came by with various deflation problems from pool toys to balloons. There were more bikes and balls. I loved having them visit, each with a story to tell. They came alone or in pairs, sometimes with a brother or sister. Not usually with a parent as my place was a secret they wanted to keep from the adults. It was like having a hiding place, something that was all their own. Kids love secrets and hence they bury items in the yard or hide them in the garage. I gave each child that day a small auto part to start their collections.

Dream Cars


Imagine what your dream car would be. Maybe you’re into the top end models including Mercedez-Benz, Porsche or Ferrari. That really hasn’t been my bend, but I think they’re amazing vehicles. I go more for the old 1955 Chevy Bel Air, vintage Mustang, Pontiac GTO and an occasional old Chevrolet from the 1920s. These are the most inspiring for me, but hey, we all have our preferences. There’s just something about finding a shell of your dream car in a somewhat dilapidated state and bringing that baby to life in grand style. Rusty old cars are a challenge that present restoration buffs with another opportunity to craft a rags to riches story. Everyone’s notion of a dream car is different and it generally stems from what you thought was really cool as a kid or a teenager.

Some of the most popular models for restoration

Ford Mustangs

The older Mustangs from the 1964-1968 era are among the favorites. We get a few of them in here and most of them have been involved in crashes which makes them perfect for salvaging parts. You can find virtually any part for these cars in a catalog or online because of the numbers of them that were produced. What makes them such great restoration projects is because of the ease in finding all original parts.

Chevrolet Camaro

I recommend Camaros from the 1967 to 69 years because of the mass number of dealers who can get you original parts. One of the coolest aspects of restoring an old Camaro is that there are a ton of aftermarket parts if you’re going for high performance versus original restoration. You can take either road with these cars and still come out on top whether you’re into restoring and flipping or just building a dream car for your own enjoyment.

Dodge Challenger

The 1972-3 models are some of the most popular because of their high restorability even if they’re in poor condition when you find them. There are quite a few companies offering reproduction parts. You can rebuild a pretty amazing car with the resources that are available but a word of caution is in order. If you’re planning to restore one of these for resale, keep it all original or it won’t be worth as much. You may be able to get away with fudging a little on some other cars, but the Challenger only retains value with originality so be a stickler about replacement parts unless it’s something that you just want to have around for your own use.

Chevrolet Bel Air

The Bel Air from 1955 to 1957 ight be the most popular classic car in the United States. These make great restoration project cars because practically any part you’d need can be bought for a total rebuild andthey’re not hard to find. If you’re into re-sale, they go pretty quickly if your prices are within fair market value. There’s a cult following, particularly with people who feel nostalgic about the 1950s era.

While restoration can be an expensive venture, it is also rewarding as you see your dream car take form. It can be compared to an artist creating his ultimate masterpiece on canvas, only you will be able to drive your finished work around the neighborhood.


Nearly Done!

I love working on cars so when a friend needed some help air painting an old car he owned, I jumped at the chance. The process of restoration is always rewarding. New paint makes such a huge difference in bringing a rusty car back to life. It takes a bit of work once you obtain a good air sprayer, but it is well worth it. To sell an old car for more than parts, this is the best method.

My buddy owned the car for many years and it was just sitting in the backyard, which had become a veritable junkyard like mine. He saw a newly painted car for sale at a pretty good price and thought he could get the same profit. There is a trend going on now with people collecting vintage cars that are already restored. He would be part of the craze. As we worked, we saw dollar signs. After a day of labor, we were nearly done. A few touchups and the car could go up for sale. We needed to take some photos and post them online. We had to decide on the price and I say we because he asked for my opinion. Because I had helped with the repaint, he wanted to give me a percentage of the profits. Of course, I turned him down.

We placed an ad and soon started receiving inquiry calls. It was a rather fast response and we were thrilled. We had worked hard to do a good job and now it was going to pay off. We invited various buyers, those we felt were qualified, to my friend’s home to view the car. Immediately, buyer after buyer were impressed and we started to get offers. Instead of taking the first one, although it was close to asking, we decided to wait. We had enough callers to justify this attitude and in the long run, it paid off. We were able to take the highest offer out of five. I know that the losers were disappointed as they really liked the car. So did we and we almost kept it.

Not surprisingly, I soon got a call to do a repaint job. Someone had spread the word! We got out the air paint sprayer as I invited my friend to get in on the deal. More money in our pockets. More cash we could use to buy parts. What else do you expect! All of the profits could go a long way. Most parts are pretty cheap and if you are in the business, you just need volume to make a go of it. The air paint sprayer is a godsend and I suggest you get one as there are so many uses beyond recoating cars. It is handy around the house and the garage. You might just want to redecorate and freshen up an area.

So, I am off to a new project and then another I hope. Business just keeps rolling on.

Great Time at the Car Show

This is where I go for relaxation and inspiration. It’s amazing to see how fellow old car buffs have restored their vintage vehicles and I really enjoy seeing the before during and after pictures that show the restoration process. Not all of them have these to show, but it’s great that a few of them do. We all go to car shows for different reasons. Some are there to show off their latest projects, others are there to make important connections and then you have the browsers who are still toying with the notion of getting into the restoration hobby.

New Ideas

I saw a 1927 Chev Landau that featured an amazing update. While the owner had the option of going with a wood roof box for infrastructure, he chose to fabricate the entire setup with steel tubing and it did add a lot of stability to this old car that would otherwise twist and turn like a Boeing 747. He drilled the wood out of the doorposts and reinforced them with steel. When he acquired it, there was some significant areas with rust through, but the steel fabrication job was fairly impressive. I learned a lot of tricks for reinforcing these old cars that were made of wood and millions of tacks and nails. Original? about half, and it won’t retain the value of an original restoration but the outcomes were still great.

Making New Friends

We were all set up at our respective stations and enjoying a bite to eat from the local vendors. There were a few newbies on the scene and it was great to meet them and get to share information back and forth. Car shows are a good place to get to know people with similar interests and to pass on some of the better resources for locating hard to find parts. Not all shows are this productive, but if you take the time to start conversations, you generally come away with something that you didn’t know before.


Car shows are a great place to either gain a little inspiration or to pass it on to someone else. It’s always a joy to answer questions from younger enthusiasts who are itching to get involved and want to know how to go about it. You can usually tell who is the most serious about jumpiing in with both feet from the ones who think it’s cool but probably too much work just by the kind of questions that they’re asking. There’s a certain gleam in the eye that is a telling sign of a budding enthusiast. We’ve all been there and it’s a pretty good feeling to be able to point someone in the right direction and give them a little encouragement.

We generally have a great time at the car shows and look forward to travelling to new communities to see new examples and meet new people. After you’ve done this for a while, you get a feel for which shows offer the most fun and opportunity. My preference is those that offer the after show get togethers for enthusiasts to talk shop and make a few new connections. Even if you’re just going as a spectator, it’s a lot of fun.