Project management: Questions you should ask before you start restoring a car

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Restoring a car is a big task. There are some questions you should ask yourself before you even began to plan it all out. | Jake Mayne photo
Restoring a car is a big task. There are some questions you should ask yourself before you even begin to plan it all out. | Jake Mayne photo

(Editor’s note: Jake Mayne is a professional and certified project manager who also has restored more than a dozen collector vehicles. This is the first in a four-part series — to be published each Friday in March — in which he shares how to apply project managing techniques to save time and money when restoring a car.)

I use many best practices when restoring cars as a hobby. When there is not an unlimited budget, and when there is not an open-ended time frame, astute project management techniques will add immeasurable value to an automotive restoration project.

I also try to guide other hobbyists who may be lost in a project get back on track, or help those who want to explore doing a project.

Restoring or even fixing up a car takes money and time. In the project management world, these two things are referred to as cost and schedule.

If you are outsourcing any of the work you have introduced vendor management into your project, and that’s another passion of mine. Managing your own expectations as well as the expectations of a vendor or subcontractor in the areas of cost, schedule and quality are paramount in a build.

Below I outline many of the techniques I have used on the restoration projects featured on my hobby website.

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First, we need to establish your end game. Take a shot at answering these questions during the next week:

Are you restoring your car as an enthusiast and hobbyist? If yes, proceed to next question. If no, I doubt there is anything of value for you here.

Are you interested in restoring or building a car or truck, and maintaining a planned schedule to establish a budget and then remain in that budget? Achieve the quality you desire? Adhere to a pre-planned time schedule?

Next, in Part 2: Planning your build


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Jake Mayne grew up a Midwestern farm kid and has been a lifelong car guy. To date he has no fear of bathing in 80/90 weight gear oil, and never misses his tetanus shot. Claim to fame is winning several face-to-face turf battles with snakes, families of mice, and swarms of bees while evicting them from their homes in old cars. He has over 15 personal collector car hobby restorations, and countless barn finds. By profession he is a project manager in the acquisition arena for the military defense and the banking industries. Jake is active in the car show scene in the Twin Cities and is a member of several car clubs.

3 COMMENTS

  1. I rebuilt a Lotus Europa JPS to a level, and I was very much an enthusiast. I was not interested in making a concourse or show car. I wanted a car that ran well and looked pretty good, and that’s what I achieved. I’m guessing many thousands of classic car owners want basically the same.

  2. ai am currently restoring a n etype S2 RHD roadster Jaguar. Total bear metal restoration.
    Not a cheap project, however it is something I have always wanted, so be it.
    However I am or will be seeking another etype roadster, but an earlier model. So I will be seeking to find a good project either a right hand drive or left hand drive, USA car.
    My question is how do one living in Australia find a good car with potential of being restored?
    Could you help, please. Thank you.

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