HomeGarageProject management: Let's finish this restoration already!

Project management: Let’s finish this restoration already!


(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 fourth in a 4-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 doing your own restoration. This week’s subject: Assembly and finishing.)

Second only to the hunt and the find, this stage of the restoration project is very exciting.

If you are doing the assembly work yourself, the smell of mice piss is long gone. New parts start to arrive like Christmas. Have a garage party the day your ride comes home from the body shop. Get some encouragement from your friends and family to finish it.

Re-visit your project plan and add a column called “actual cost.” In this column, start to populate what things ended up costing. How close were you?

Take your time assembling your car. Remember, most of us have more time than money, so if you blow your scheduled time frame for assembly, no harm, no foul. Sure, you will run into stuff you forgot to order or buy, and no one has an entire hardware store bolt and nut section in their garage. Countless trips to your local hardware store are expected.

You know who has every nut and bolt needed for a restoration? A hardware store.
You know who has every nut and bolt needed for a restoration? A hardware store.

In the end, you have an amazing ride that YOU built — with a plan.

The spectrum of a car build varies from outsourced turn-key to do-it-all yourself. Either way, a properly planned project will cost less, be of higher quality, and take less time than an unplanned build.

Two more things: Don’t do a build on your credit card, have the money in hand. And plan your build like you did a road trip before GPS. A prudent person would never head out on a cross-country road trip without well mapped-out plan.

Oh yes: Enjoy the ride. Who knows? You may even win an award for your hard work.

Jake Mayne poses with an award he won for his 1970 Plymouth AAR Cuda.
Jake Mayne poses with an award he won for his 1970 Plymouth AAR Cuda.

To see more build pictures and read the story about the AAR Cuda pictured above, head to my blog. You can also check out the full list of all the parts I needed to complete my build below:

Project need Cost
Engine core $4,500
Trans parts rebuild $400
Sand & media blasting $1,220
Metal $120
Rear driveshaft rebuild $1,700
AMD Metal $4,200
Body supplies (FinishMaster) $157
Cut off wheels (Carquest) $22
Welding wire (NAPA) $68
Body supplies (FinishMaster) $407
Northern Tool $75
Metal Supply House $35
Argon gas $100
Door skin (AMD) $321.31
Body supplies (FinishMaster) $305
Hood $1,000
Spoilers $423.68
Paddock clips bolts $208.67
Fender braces (AMD) $84.85
Leaf spring rebuild $360
Paint supplies (Carquest) $1,280
PST kit $400
Organosol paint $180
Brake parts $225
Motor rebuild/machine shop costs $5,000
Clutch, bolts $439.55
Idle solenoid $153.89
Alternator $112.48
Battery cable, coil, parts $98.38
Exhaust manifold coating $249
Starter $79.99
Radiator restoration $1,415
6 Pack carb rebuild $922
Exhaust system $1,103.57
Polyglas tires $1,335
Brake booster/master $1,150
Wiring & filter $365
Dash pad $750
Decals $156
Battery $381.84
Shop supplies (Northern Tool) $21.41
Window 3M Goo (NAPA) $27
Headlight bucket (eBay) $87.98
Seatbelts (Herb’s) $424.11
Lug nuts & tank straps $173
Repro parts $2,004.30
Grille inserts $149
Shop black paint $122.38
Wiring floor cover (AMD) $90
Plating stainless polishing $745
Steering wheel $150
Stainless polishing $100
Linkage parts $476.96
Wipers (Carquest) $21.35
Fan shroud $85.50
Stant rad cap $17
Fuel filter (Parts City) $5.26
Bulbs (NAPA) $12.50
Antifreeze (NAPA) $11.05
VAC line (NAPA) $4.83
Washers (Tractor Supply) $0.74
Screws (Fastenal) $0.51
Headlights (NAPA) $21.26
Fender studs (Arden Supply) $11.08
Jack hook, seals $159.69
Nylock nuts (Fastenal) $0.42
Rad hose (NAPA) $21.26
Front shocks (Carquest) $106.85
Spring PIN (Fastenal) $0.85
Bolts (Fastenal) $6.55
Belt (Parts City) $18.98
Belts (Parts City) $40.07
Rad hose (Carquest) $54.85
Ring gear $22.49
Wiring harness — rubber pedals $101.40
AM210 paint ART $134.53
Dash lens, seat foam, body plugs $373.50
SEM paint black $138.05
Speaker (Retro Sound) $75.99
Lamp delay resistor $45.05
Jack mount parts (AMD) $77.94
Pitman arm (eBay) $93.99
Road lamps $225
Stant gas cap $29.98
Front sway bar (eBay) $198.70
J-bolt for heater box $24
Turn signal indicator (Herb’s) $226.09
Headlight bucket (eBay) $87.98
Automotive VIN rivets & decals $158
Pain & foil tape (Menards) $29.49
Headlight dimmer switch (NAPA) $11.38
3M spray glue $19.99
Window cranks — stickers $117.46
Alignment $78.70
Grille and bezels $524
Tail panel moulding clips $27.81
Turn signal assembly $325
Headlight adjuster kit $13.50
ITZ Custom body & paint $14,351.39
Parts and outsources labor $39,995.85
Total project build costs $54,347.24

Read more:

Jake Mayne
Jake Maynehttp://www.jakesgeneralstore.com
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.


  1. This is so true and I could have used this advice much earlier in life. Although at that time I still thought I knew everything so I probably wouldn’t have listened anyway! LOL Many years ago, back around 2000-2001 I attempted to do a very amateur "driver-quality" restoration of a 1970 Dodge D-100 stepside pickup that I was able to find. Although it wasn’t the project vehicle I really wanted, it’s what I could afford so I made an offer and dragged its non-running carcass home. Whatever I paid for this rusty hulk it was still too much. I had a vision of what I wanted it to be, but no real plan on how to get it there; and even less money in savings. I had some support from my family and friends, but I don’t think anyone really understood the kind of commitment it was going to take to see this project through. I know I certainly didn’t. Long story short, the truck depleted my savings and my patience and I eventually gave up on it in total frustration. I sold it dirt cheap to someone who was only interested in stripping it for parts, and only got to drive it once under its own power.
    Plan wisely, plan ahead, have plenty of money in savings, and have a good support system from family and friends. Know what vehicle you want and go after it. Don’t just settle for "whatever comes along." It won’t mean the same to you and you’ll end up resenting it. Whatever you amount of time and money you estimate for a project vehicle, double it and you’re in the neighborhood! Especially if you’re a rookie.


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