I was recently looking through the dockets from one of the larger collector car auctions (which shall remain unnamed) paying particular attention to the borderline bonkers amounts of money that is exchanged for restored vehicles these days. Granted, we are fairly far removed from those days, just over a decade ago, when an unassuming guy, known mostly by his telltale Ferrari ball cap, spent countless hundreds of thousands of dollars on car after beautiful car like they were neck ties. Turns out he was a curator for an automotive museum owned by a rather wealthy TV executive and not the average Joe that he appeared to be…a Joe that we imagined had apparently been printing off counterfeit hundred dollar bills for months and decided that a highly-televised car auction was the perfect place to try and pass them off. We all secretly wished we could be him-goofy Italian sports car hat, and all. Snatching up every dream car that came across the block with little regard for how many zeros were lined up after the first few numbers.
While I usually expect to see six digit prices on pristine Corvettes, Lambos or Cobras and an occasional million dollar sum for anything with a traceable racing heritage, I tend to pay more mind to the market values assessed to the decidedly more mundane cars, the ones that normal working folks may aspire to be able to purchase or, more remarkably, be able to restore with their own skillset and hands. While it does take a crazy amount of money to buy a vintage Ferrari 250, it takes a person of a clearly different sort of means to bring a car back from the brink of extinction and restore it to its full form and function. The amount of the expense involved with the restoration may vary greatly based on the subject. While a Jaguar D-type would mean the financial ruin of most anyone, the re-creation of the mechanics that comprise a 1950’s Willys Jeep could be accomplished by anyone on a lawn boy’s budget and apparently the potential return on investment appears to be equal in scale.
So what kind of enthusiast might consider undertaking the restoration of an early Jeep? Well, with the abundant availability of reproduction body tubs and sheet metal, you would not need to spend countless hours scouring scrap yards looking for pieces to complete your puzzle or even be forced to start with a rusty, rotten shell. From a mechanical aspect, the level of technology that is involved is, to say the least, pretty basic. The tolerances for the fit and finish of the final product are far from strict. Many of the original Willys Jeeps from the 1940’s were largely assembled in the field from components stacked inside a shipping crate and could be replicated by a do-it-yourselfer in a shop or garage with simple tools. You might find it much liking building a model car kit, without the smelly glue. The only unique skillsets that would be required would be a basic mechanical aptitude, large reserves of patience and persistence, and a reasonable attention to detail. You can find just about everything else you would need at http://www.omix-ada.com. Maybe you can be that special kind of crazy? OlllllllO