The Soul

©By: TeriAnn Wakeman

Last update: July 3, 1999

(ED. For a hobbiest, when you decide to restore a car, it is usually a very long project. There will be many ups and downs, you'll take 1 step forward and 2 steps back. Sometimes you will feel like you are not making any progress. This can have a devastating effect on the person doing the restoration. You will inevitably become depressed. In fact, this will usually happen several times during a restoration. If you are lucky, you will have a friend, a neighbor, or a relative who will keep help peak you spirits when you get depressed. If you don't have such a person to prod you over the rough spots, I suggest you print this out and read it when you get depressed.

Ken on the Spitfires mailing list was having a bad day and asked the group "Why do we do this?" TeriAnn Wakeman responded with one of the most emotional and eloquent explanations I've ever heard!

Ken wrote:

Why do we do this?

After what was one of those one or two days per year when central Illinois is pure heaven (low '70's, no humidity, blue skies, light breeze) I spent 7 hours in the garage with the TR3 from hell.

Five items I thought were done, had to taken apart again, three previous screw ups fixed and replaced, one item figured out but not yet replaced and one more new broken item this time around. I guess you can call it progress. Any bets on whether I live long enough to see this project through?

Last years goal (going to Oakwood) is beginning to look unattainable, maybe Champaign next spring.

dot_clearKen Gano ("don't torque that down just yet")

To which TeriAnn Wakeman wrote:
Been there, did that, been discouraged as H**l. Sometimes left the project for as much as a year at a time because I needed some time in my life without that level of discouragement.

It took me 10 years but I'm driving my TR3 again. She now brings a smile to my lips whenever I glance her way. During the final assembly I was wondering if I had forgotten something important or put something on wrong and the car would not work or fall apart on the road. The car had a slow start up period while I looked for and corrected numerous little things and went through and retightened things. But now that the work is 99% done I remember why I put myself through the torture of a complete rebuild on dirt without a garage. If you have not guessed, I do not like spending my time doing mechanic work. I'm just too cheap to pay someone else to do something I think I can do.

There seem to be two kinds of rebuilders. One type does it because they enjoy spending their time making a vintage car like new. These people spend time on the rebuild project as a preferred form of relaxation. The process of rebuilding it at least as satisfying as driving the rebuilt car. Then there are those who just want their car to become like new but could think of many other things they would rather do with their time. This group takes time out from their lives to go out and work on the project. When the project goes on longer than they originally thought it should, tension builds and they just want the project done so they can get on with their lives.

I fall into the second group and I guess that you do too. We are not experts at rebuilding. We learn as we go and we make our share of mistakes while learning. This means lots of doubts, lots of removing installed parts because you didn't get it right the first time. This is a normal part of learning how to rebuild a car.

I noticed that you are giving yourself a deadline to raise your level of anxiety and get you focused on getting the job done within a given time. It is even more normal to feel discouraged when you give yourself a deadline. A time line is a two edged sword.

Those of us focused on getting the rebuild project finished and over with will feel a tension at how slow the project is going and frequently feel discouraged by our apparent lack of progress. It is normal. It is also where many projects come to a halt and many vintage cars die. I think I read somewhere that four out of five cars disassembled for a home rebuild never get reassembled again.

The soul of a classic roadster is strong yet fragile. It doesn't like to exist alone and part of it reaches out to create a shared existence with its driver. Strangers can get a glimpse of a Roadster's soul as they pass by but never the true depth that the driver sees.

The soul of a classic roadster slowly dissipates when it is disassembled and the parts are sitting scattered about a rebuild area. It dissipates to the point where it exists only within the person doing the rebuild. When that person looses it, the car becomes a collection of parts and nothing more.

There were times I thought my TR3 would become one of these casualties. That it entered into a sleep that would go deeper and deeper then slowly dissipate into nothing. But luckily for my car my personality also has a strong tenacity component that kept me going through lots and lots of discouragement and times of just being overwhelmed by the scope of the project. Through this I desperately hung onto the memories of driving my 3 through the mountains. I remembered the feisty little beast that was ready to take on the new cars, the smile that she brought so readily to my lips, the exhilaration of being out on the windy country roads going through the gears. Sometimes dimly, sometimes the level of discouragement was so high I almost lost it. But after 10 years of working through this project I was finally able to restore that soul back into it's proper body to flourish once again. Beware new sports cars, there is once again a feisty roaring Triumph TR3A stalking you. The flame burns brightly once again. Never doubt that the end results will be worth the work you put in today.


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