However, I believe there's a solution for every problem. When a damaged or crooked chassis creates a problem, in many cases it's possible to purchase a new one or repair the old one. If a vintage-steel body has an abundance of cancerous rust, it may be necessary to try to make one good cab and fenders from the panels of two or three (or more) damaged vehicles. It might also be necessary to customize the body in a way that eliminates or disguises the damage. This is one of the primary reasons for the success of modern swap meets, found at every good rod run, where a patient buyer can find a solution to what seems like an insurmountable problem.
I have to confess; in the past when I've sold my unfinished projects (in almost every case), I've come to the conclusion that I took the easy way out and lost money in the process. Man, oh man! What would my '40 Ford coupe with the Buick Nailhead engine (sold years ago) be worth today? It went down the road to a new home because of an engine that was too powerful for the original trans and rearend. I realize fixing a comparable problem today wouldn't be as tough or expensive as it was 20 years ago when I was less knowledgeable about these things.
Other decisions to sell a car or truck involve overly expensive repairs that lead us to believe we can't afford to fix the problem economically. My '66 Corvette coupe with a 427ci big-block was an expensive ride to repair at a time when I needed dependable transportation-and it went to a new home at a moment in time when I had to have a car to haul more than two people. But I often think, "What would that big-block yellow coupe with side pipes be worth sitting in my garage today?"
As an automotive journalist, I admit it distresses me to see the hundreds of cars with FOR SALE signs in the window at the summer events. I'm always afraid the hobby may be losing a family of hot rodders. On the other hand, I try to reason that this owner may be upgrading to a better ride, and in the process, adding a new owner/family to our hobby. This selling/buying situation of a classic ride is obviously a win/win situation.
Those of you who have built a project from the ground up know the economic facts of life: it's cheaper to buy a finished car or truck than go through the long-term process of collecting, fabricating, and assembling parts. Another is that an unfinished car (in most cases) sells for less than it would when finished-adding insult to injury when our friends and neighbors start asking questions about the empty space in our garage.
But it's important to remember to be extremely careful when purchasing a vehicle located far from home, perhaps in another state. I've seen firsthand how a rusty carcass has been loaded with body filler and passed on to a new owner as a ground-up restoration by someone with little or no integrity. Shortly after the ink is dry on the bill of sale, the new owner finds a level of decay hidden under fresh paint that leaves both a sour taste in his mouth and a big dent in his wallet. It's always a good idea to negotiate a grace period during which the vehicle can be returned for rational reasons (that might involve misrepresentation of the vehicle's condition). This may require forfeiting a small sum of money, but it's better than dropping a big chunk of dough on a rust bucket covered with Bondo.