Jim Smart
August 24, 2009

When it comes to restoration projects, we can tell you we've been there in this magazine's 31-year history. And we've worked closely with others who have also been there. The neat thing about this job is what we learn doing it. In those three decades, we've made more than our share of mistakes-some really stupid, some we'd never admit to even our closest friends, and some that were embarrassingly exposed right here in these pages. Our goal here is to help you avoid mistakes with true confessions from those who've made them, including us.

If you are new to the restoration game, expect to make mistakes-lots of them-before getting comfortable with your abilities. It's okay to make mistakes. Just don't keep making the same ones again and again. Some situations require common sense where you really shouldn't make a mistake in the first place if you give it enough thought going in. Good practice is to take your time and not be in a hurry. Be methodical in your execution, taking phases one step at a time on the road to completion. Don't be discouraged when things go wrong. The main things to avoid are those mistakes that can cost time and money.

Here's what those in the know feel the worst restoration blunders are.

Failure To Realistically Plan
One of the best project planners we've ever seen is Marvin McAfee of MCE Engines in Los Angeles. Marvin will tell you that car projects crash and burn mostly due to a failure to plan realistically. Each project must have a plan, beginning with bodywork and paint, to have a foundation on which to build. You must be a good multi-tasker who can manage different phases of a project at the same time. For example, managing engine and transmission rebuilds while working with the body shop. And if you're not good at that, take it one phase at a time and don't get ahead of yourself. Don't kid yourself. You must be prepared to make allowances for just about anything you can think of or suffer consequences when things go wrong and you're unprepared. And face it, there are things you will never be prepared for and you may have to cut bait on a project. Have logical, realistic Plans B and C waiting in the wings just in case Plan A tanks. And, know when to quit and cut your losses when it becomes impractical to continue a car project.

What could possibly go wrong?
• Job Loss
• Career move/job transfer
• Divorce
• Death in the family
• Natural disaster
• Fire
• Credit problems from overextension and running out of money
• Taking out a second mortgage to build your Mustang and winding up "upside down" (they call also it "underwater" these days)
• Moving to smaller quarters and losing your garage
• Losing good talent helping you with your project
• Losing a good source for technical support, such as your body shop, engine builder, fabrication specialist, etc.
• Body/restoration shop goes out of business and your Mustang winds up impounded by those to whom the shop was financially or legally obligated

Not Knowing Who You're Doing Business With
In three decades of magazine publishing, we've heard a lot of horror stories. Mustang owners have been conned and duped by unscrupulous businesses, ranging from full-on restoration shops to engine builders, body shops, and everything in between. Remember, any hayseed can hang up a sign and call themselves a restoration shop.

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