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How easy is it to repair older cars

Most “pre-computer” cars are what I would consider old. Old cars can be a lot of fun to work on. They’re usually very simple “nuts and bolts” machines, however they can bring with them some challenges.

The biggest problem in repairing older cars can be finding parts. Something as simple as a heater core or an exhaust manifold may require an extensive hotline search to various salvage yards across the country. Or you may have to adapt something that was originally built for something else, or build a part from scratch.

Another problem is rust. Everything made of steel rusts, and even old cars in the finest condition will eventually succumb to corrosion. It may start small, but it’s a battle you want to stay on top of. Often times, this involves removing an entire rusted panel, welding or riveting in a new panel and completely refinishing the affected area. That’s a lot of work and it can get very expensive.

One more problem can be old technology. Cars built throughout the 1900’s had a variety of old-school solutions to engineering problems. They commonly used things like cotter and Woodruff keys, shims, solid rivets, swedged lug nuts, left-hand fasteners, lead filler, 6-volt electrical systems, points and condensers and packing seals for things like water pumps and crankshaft openings.

Modern cars aren’t built like that anymore and the knowledge to service those items is pretty hard to find in 2019. You will likely have to do a lot of research in order to do something simple like set the dwell on your distributor.

If you’re willing to take on these challenges (and a lot more!) then I salute you. You’ve stepped into a bigger world, where history, nostalgia and fun all kind of get mashed up together. The path can be a love-hate relationship. Late nights on a cold garage floor, with endless amounts of grease and 50-year old dirt in your face. But in the end, the final result, if done right, can be a source of great pride.

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