Zero Point

At Wally’s Speed Shop we have a term that we established called a Zero Point.

Zero Point (pronunciation)  (part of speech)

  1. The point at which a project has been repaired from all the abuse through the years.
  2. A project car that was left in a barn for 70 years and was not ruined by generations of “gear heads.”

Every car had its time when it was just another $500 car, and it was treated as such. 

Here is a not-so-fictional story:

It’s 1969 and a young man returning from a war in SE Asia buys a 1969 SS Camaro. It’s a new car and it is treated as such. He drives it with pride for years, until it breaks down and is not “worth fixing.” 

It was parked in the side yard and sat for years until one day, let’s say it was 1978, and along with some buddies and beers it was cut up to be a drag car. The car was stripped down to make it light. A cage was welded in as it got faster. Money was poured into a car with very little skill accompanying the parts that made it a drag car. This car went to the drag strip 6 times over 5 years and became too expensive to fix again. 

The young man now has a family and then in 1993, it was decided to turn it back into a streetcar to take the family cruising with a mild engine. Original parts were scaped together from wrecking yards, the cage was cut out of it. That lasted a few years until the cheap engine overhaul starting knocking. It sits again until his first kid turns 16 and they decided he needed Dad’s old car and the next version of the car was born. Rust holes from sitting, part old drag car, part family car, and always a classic. 

The son gets a job and he and his buddies, not much different from his dad’s back in the day, start to build a high school car. It runs, but “its just an old car,” so no worries that the brakes are weak, the rear axle leaks and you can drop empty beer cans out of the floor. Body filler gets spread on rust, paint gets applied by his senior year and he has a “sweet” car to all outside observers. 

He drives it for a few years and it gets parked on the side of his house because it’s not practical. Still looking decent it is put under a tarp on the side of his home. The terrible bodywork and rust begins to consume the car over the next decade as it sits. 

His spouse asks him what he’s going to do with the car and they decide to sell it. He sells it to a person that flips old cars. 

They chisel the body filler off it, caulk and rivet some siding on the hole-riddled floors, get it body worked and painted over the rust for the second time in its life. 

They buy overseas re-popped parts of all the interior and exterior trim, buy a crate engine and transmission, leave the old brakes and steering components in place, paint the floor with undercoating and rattle can black paint and sign it up for a local classic car auction. 

Most outside observers would say that it is a clean ‘69 Camaro SS that is being sold by the second owner that bought it from a one-owner family.  

Enter you. 

You’ve talked to your spouse for years about wanting a ‘69 Camaro. You start doing research and you think you know what you are looking at. You run the bid up to your limit of $45k and you now own this Camaro. 

It runs and drives okay, but because “it’s a classic car” you accept that it stalls, has poor brakes, makes whining noises on deceleration and you notice the paint is cracking all over this freshly painted car of your dreams. You decide to get a professional opinion and bring it to Wally’s Speed Shop to chat about the paint, weak brakes, and an odd vibration while driving.  

We rack the car and inspect it for your concerns. Guess what we discover? All the problems from years of people taking this car backwards from its Zero Point. 

You thought you bought a 10, but you bought a -13 with no working rear brakes, rotted body mounts, no real structure left in the floor, rotted rear suspension mounting points and a host of other issues. 

Is it repairable? 

Of course, it is, but it takes a lot of work to get this -13 to a Zero so we can move forward together. 

When you find out it takes $50k to get your car to Zero Point, your classic car dreams are crushed and you are left with a few choices: screw over the next guy and sell it as is, spend a significant amount of money to fix 70 years worth of abuse, or park it and let the car rot once again.  

It’s a vicious cycle, but we can’t go back in time and make good decisions for your car, it is our duty to give you value based on our experience and make suggestions that consistently take your car in a positive direction rather than negative.

I wish this was a fictional story, but we see it every week. Please use a buyer-beware mentality when buying a ‘new to you’ classic car. Let us help with your classic car selection. (see Buyer Beware blog post) or give us a call to discuss your ambitions with classic cars. We want to help you along this journey in whatever facet you need us to be in.