Last night I was reading the latest Hot Rod magazine, December 2022. We are in October, why is the December issue out now? But that is another discussion. I read the Editor in Chief’s article about Projects, and it really hit home for me. John McGann wrote about his current projects and why they means much to him. I looked to see if I could find what he wrote online so I could share, but no joy. So, I am writing this to show what he wrote and why it meant so much to me.

John starts off writing:

Life is about balance. As human beings, we feel most fulfilled when we ride that line between chaos and order. If there is too much chaos, life is miserable. Too much order, life becomes stale and stultified. We need that sense of accomplishment gained when we tackle a problem, thereby restoring chaos to order. If there is no chaos, there is no innovation. It’s the struggle that defines us and moves us forward in life.

That’s the appeal of our hobby. Cars offer us the pleasure and pain of life in a self-contained microcosm. There are parts to wear out and inefficiencies to improve on. There are lots of hidden science in our cars – electrical theory, thermodynamics, fluid dynamics, metallurgy, physics, and geometry. They offer us practical applications of the theoretic that we can test firsthand in a real-world setting. All that is a fancy way of saying we can change stuff on our cars, then go for a drive to see if what we changed made it better or worse. That’s way more fun than any classroom session I can remember.

John goes on to describe his current projects so here is where I divert to describe mine instead. Back in the mid-1970s I had a ’68 Camaro that was sort of my test mule as I learned all the science described earlier. Take geometry; one of the first things I did was to replace the cam in the 327 small block to a larger duration and higher lift to gain more power. It worked! The bonus was the engine also sounded meaner with the notorious lope as it idled. That started a chain reaction of replacing other parts, then pulling that engine to replace other components, all in the search for more power. It was not long before I replaced the engine for a 396 big block. That really woke up the old Camaro.

As life moved on I sold that Camaro which I regret to this day. In the meantime, I bought a Corvette in the mid-1980s which I still have because I was not going to make the same mistake of selling something I would later regret. For the last 20 years I have been working on that Corvette to build it the way I thought it should have been built in the first place, big block. In 1978 big block were not an option so my reason for the build. Doing a project on that scale requires a lot of money but when you are raising a family, something must be put on the back burner, and that is why this project is taking so long. I have also picked up more projects, a 1953 Chevy Wagon that has been in my family for generations. In fact, that wagon is the first car I remember riding in as a toddler. I was fascinated with the chrome on the dash and have been a car guy ever since. I also have a 1973 VW Super Beetle. My first car was a ’65 Bug so I have a soft spot in my heart for Bugs. Another project is I bought two Honda CT 70 trail bikes. The 1974 one I keep in working order and love riding it from time to time. The other is a basket case 1970 T70H which is a manual clutch 4 speed bike.

When I drive that Corvette for the first time as well as the ’53 Wagon, it will be a highlight for me. Driving something that was torn down to nothing and rebuilt the way I planned it to be is sort of like breathing new life in an old car.

Back to what John wrote for his article in Hot Rod:

…..all the work done knowing that a couple of friends and I had done the work ourselves. It would not have been nearly as rewarding without the struggle. That’s the point. I hope I am never without a project car (or motorcycle) to work on.