Winter is for restoration, repairs
In the middle of winter, the sand and salt on roads is ample.
That's when classic cars are out of sight, tucked away in garages, being worked on or hunted for.
"Wintertime, that is the one time used for restoration and repairs, as long as you have a place to do it. It's more than just a one stall installation. Part searching happens year-round," said Eric Pool, president of the board of the Museum of Automotive History .
Pool restored a 1981 DeLorean that won the John Z. DeLorean Excellence in Marque award in 2011. Yes, his DeLorean is the same model as the one featured in the movie Back to the Future.
Buying and restoring cars from the past for many is about getting back to the past.
"It's just the memories," said Brian Braaten of his customers' motivation in buying classic cars. Braaten owns Braaten's Auto , also known as www.braatens.com. He buys and sells classic cars, trucks, muscle, and project cars.
"Riding with their dads or grandpa or their uncle. I think it was a better time. You didn't worry about the phone ringing (while driving). The car was to drive."
"A lot of the fun is in the hunt," said Braaten. "The hunt for me is finding these cars. It's fun."
He focuses on buying cars that people can drive and show. While he has had a couple of show cars, one of his current criteria for his own classic and muscle cars is, "Can I take my kids and go get ice cream with it?"
When it came to Pool's DeLorean restoration, he was preparing it to compete in shows.
Everything on the vehicle had to be original or suffer the consequence of point deductions. When it comes to DeLoreans, because production was ramped up shortly before the company closed down, Pool estimates part availability at 93 to 97 percent.
As Pool restored his vehicle, he ran into one component that he could not find: gaskets for air intake. "In 1981, they were foam. Even if you had original parts, they'd be dust."
With a little help from his dad, a solution was found: a gasket for toilets. Then paint made for painting on plastic was found in a color that matched. The only problem: the gasket with paint didn't have the same texture as the original part. When installing the gasket, the paint flexed and created a ripple identical to the original. When he competed, the judges did not deduct one point on that gasket.
Some things to know if you're looking to buy a classic or restore one:
Be realistic about the time restoring will take. "It's very time intensive," said Pool. "I didn't even do a full frame-off. It took about four years. Six months when I would focus pretty heavily, 20 hours per week." Those six months were the winter ones.
Ask the right questions. "This is the question you should ask me," said Braaten, "How solid are the floors, frame and fenders?"
When buying, have a car inspected by an individual inspection service, Braaten recommended. He estimated the additional cost of $100 to $500, depending on how expensive the car is. Also, it's best to buy from a car dealer to avoid a scam.
Know when to stop and know where the money should be spent. Braaten has seen people put twice a car's value into it. "If you buy a classic car and keep it nice, if you keep it five years, you can get every penny back."
Braaten recommends people keep their cars nice and driveable. "Time is your friend with oldies," he said.
And perhaps most importantly: It can be a habit-forming hobby. "It's a cycle," said Pool. "Get it, restore it, show it, drive it."
Just like the four seasons.