Hagerty readers’ 4 most popular winter projects

Redline rebuild VW engine

Most U.S. drivers don’t get to enjoy year-round driving of their vintage cars, and this mandatory break in the driving season is a great time to play catch up on maintenance. We asked the Hagerty Forums community to tell us what’s on their to-do list this winter.

A car enthusiast who can’t drive their car will inevitably spend time fawning over it, whether in their driveway or a garage mahal. Taking a few weeks to focus on preparing your cruiser for the spring or to restart a long-stalled project is rewarding and fun. Everyone has different levels of comfort when it comes to do-it-yourself work, but judging from the responses to last week’s Question of the Week in the Hagerty Forums, there’s a sizeable population of handy folks out there.

Below are the four most popular projects you’ll be working on. Hopefully you’ll feel inspired to tackle one yourself.

Upholstery work

This tested my patience and it is important to make sure each hog ring pulls in the correct spot so the cover stays evenly placed.
Kyle Smith
This tested my patience and it is important to make sure each hog ring pulls in the correct spot so the cover stays evenly placed.

The interior of a classic car often gets the most wear, and the majority of drivers are obsessed with the outward appearance of their car but allow the interior to age, since few people will see the interior anyway. Fresh seat covers or door panels can elevate a tired car a few levels with a relatively small amount of effort.

The process can be intimidating to most, but replacing fabric and foam is no different than pistons or a camshaft. Careful and documented disassembly, combined with using proper tools, will set you up for success on a highly rewarding project.

Rebuilding an engine or gearbox

It is a massive task to reduce something as complicated as an engine down to its individual pieces, but with years of experience and support of specialists around the world—thanks to the World Wide Web—it is something that absolutely can happen between the last drive of fall and the first drive of spring.

The top tip comes from our own Redline Rebuild expert Davin Reckow. He advises that you should schedule things out on a calendar as best you can. Give yourself a timetable for disassembly, cleaning, machining, parts sourcing, and assembly. Be realistic on your timeline, and do your best to stick to it. This little push to get things done and hold yourself accountable actually helps stay focused during a big project like this. Highly recommended.

Paint

Something I am far too cheap to involve myself in but that all of my projects could use is a fresh coat of paint. It’s a massive step but really transforms a car. Spending the time doing prep work and getting the car ready to roll in the paint booth is tedious and time consuming, and the progress is not easily visible—a perfect recipe for stalling out in frustration.

That work is important, even for a simple touch up or chassis component. Similar to rebuilding an engine, the key here is to not stop in the middle. Post a picture of the goal, perhaps a similar car that’s already completed and looks like you would like yours to look like. It will help remind you that the half-sanded hulk in the shop will soon emerge from that primer cocoon as a shiny and slick butterfly.

Assembly

Davin Reckow working on an engine
Ben Woodworth

The weeks of piecing together the most beautiful LEGO set you have ever attempted to assemble is just plain fun. Keep your torque wrench close by and your factory service manual closer. You are referencing the photographs you took during disassembly, right? Be sure to take some new ones that also document the assembly progress. In a perfect world it will be the last time you see some of the nuts and bolts under your chosen ride. Not everything is a Redline Rebuild, and assembly is one place where it’s absolutely OK to take your time and get it right—the first time.

Stay safe while working on your project this winter, and be sure if you have fun progress to share, put it in a new thread on the Hagerty Forums. We all love to see the progress of other car enthusiasts. If you need a break from working and want to dream a bit, give your answer to this week’s Question of the Week asking which four-wheeled gift you wish would roll under the tree.