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By Richard Lentinello
Editor and Publisher, CRANKSHAFT Magazine
Life-Long Car Guy and Avid Triumph Collector
Originally published in Hemmings Motor News, October 2015
Reprinted with permission
Turn on your television day or night and you’re sure to find a show about old cars. There are shows about finding old cars, assessing their values,
restoring them, modifying them and selling them; regardless of your interest, there’s something for everyone.
Although I’m not going to give my opinion about certain shows – I’m sure you already know which ones are bad and insulting to our old car intelligence –
the biggest problem I have about most of the how-to shows is that they are sending the wrong message to the viewers. And that message seems to be
that you can restore a car in just three days, and with a miniscule budget! Trust me, you can’t. It’s impossible.
This so-call scripted reality is not reality at all, rather it is scripted deception, and it’s done for the sole purpose to entertain. And that’s all these shows
really are, entertainment. Sometimes they are enjoyable to watch, and sometimes quite informative, but all that drama and in-fighting among the shops’
workers is stupid, annoying, and a waste of time; that’s not what the majority of old car guys want to see. When the drama starts, that’s when I switch
One of the many problems is the quickness that it takes the crew to restore a car. For those
viewers who are unfamiliar with restoration, should they decide to have a car restored in the
future, many will expect their specialist shop to perform the restoration work in a similar, short-time
fashion. The hosts of these shows need to reveal the truth about restoring cars, and just how long
certain jobs take to do, and why. Just a few quick sentences is all it will take to reveal the truth
behind the jobs being conducted.
While it is certainly possible to assemble a chassis with all new components in a single day,
especially when there are four to six people working on it all at once. You can also rebuild an
engine in a single day as well. The big problem lies with all the little details. If you’ve restored a
car before, then you’ll know all too well that to do it right the proper fasteners have to be used, and
certain types and size washers must be fitted in conjunction with specific parts. Seeing how
quickly these crews bolt on components is cause for great concern because there’s no way that
you can blast through a rebuild that quickly and still get all the right fasteners in the correct places,
and torque them properly.
All too often I’ve watched how suspension components were bolted tightly in place while the
chassis was still on a lift or jack, which is the worst thing you can do because that not only pre-
loads the bushings, which will alter the suspension geometry, but the pre-load will wear those
bushings and bearings prematurely.
But the biggest issue I have concerns the painting of the cars. Refinishing a car takes weeks, that
is if you want the job done correctly and if you want it to last. Primers need lots of time to dry
properly and shrink, so you should avoid spraying the color topcoats on the same day that the
primer is applied. Oh, you can, but soon minute cracks and other blemishes in the paint will
appear as a result. Worse, in many cases I’ve seen workers painting cars without wearing any
protective masks; talk about sending the wrong message, especially to our youth who think that
it’s okay to do. How careless.
And why does every car have to be built in four days? Rushing through any restoration will have
negative side effects, be it improperly installed parts, fluid leaks and a whole host of other things
harmful to a car’s safety and performance, yet this is what’s shown week after week.
To be fair to the producers of these shows, we don’t expect to see 10 episodes dedicated to a single car’s restoration; that would be boring and a financial
bust. However, at the very least, the hosts need to inform the viewers with some realistic truths. By not doing so they are making it hard for restorers and
restoration shops to validate their work and the time it takes to do that work correctly, while misinforming viewers that this is the way a rebuild is done.
Such deceptive information is detrimental to our hobby, so either speak the truth or we won’t tune in.
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