15 DIY projects keeping Hagerty staffers busy
Would it be Collector Car Appreciation week without recognizing the lengths to which some of us will go to keep our beloved projects on the road? Like you, we like to get our hands dirty. Wrenching on a car or motorcycle is a great way to more intimately understand the machinery that moves us. And we’ve got the cuts, scrapes, and grease-stained old clothes to show for it. Here are the DIY projects we’re working on—and we’d be thrilled to see yours in the Hagerty Community comments below.
Sometimes you really have a bad day, and the one thing that would make it better is a small victory accomplished while repairing your old car. I thought one such victory would be the quick replacement of a belt tensioner … apparently not so much, if you are so focused on what is going wrong that day that you neglect to notice that unwinding the bolt subsequently jammed your wrench into the body of the car. Thank goodness for reciprocating saws—even though I never, ever want to do that again to my engine.
I’ve never worked on cars, but I wanted to and wanted to teach my sons. So last year I got, out of a barn, a 50-year-old British car made in Italy. Maybe not the smartest choice to learn on, but we are having fun.
I’ve got three ongoing projects: Removing a Radical engine for suspected gearbox issues. Making brackets to use modern fans on the 308, and then replacing a leaking caliper on a micro sprint. The worst of them? Removing the Radical engine. Total messy PITA, and signals a big bill ahead with lots of time when the car is unusable.
My latest DIY project is cutting and applying number roundels to the Austin Seven. The first came out better than expected. I learned an amazing technique for drawing a perfect circle. Today’s task: Paint numbers using “liquid electrical tape” found at Lowes.
I’ve been round-robining projects lately. My cousin and I recently put new carpet in the Pumpkin (backstory here) and installed the rebuilt carburetor. The ATS-V is getting new brakes in advance of a couple upcoming V/Blackwing stories. I also realized that the now-dusty race car has a date at Mid Ohio right after Monterey Car Week, so I had best get going on preparation.
New tie-rod ends just went on my Miata, along with my latest attempt to reseal the back window (picture lots of tape). Oil change in the family truckster 2021 Malibu. (Side note: Anyone know who makes Kirkland-branded oil? Was $35 for 10L of 5W-20 synthetic—that’s like $15 an oil change.)
It remains undiagnosed, but there has to be a name for whatever broke in my brain that makes every sad-looking project on Marketplace or Craigslist seem like it’s asking me to save it. Every dirty wheel or missing engine piece cues that Sarah McLachlan song in my head. Thus, my garage often looks more like the island of misfit toys than a workshop or storage place. Between restoring the Triumph TR5T and Model A Ford to kitting out my Chevrolet Express van and setting up my Suzuki SV650 for road racing, there is always something getting worked on, something needing work, and, of course, a project that I’m actively avoiding. You know the feeling.