Our beloved original-paint 1965 Volvo 122S automatic is about to be listed on BaT, courtesy of Matt Crandall (911r) and Avant-Garde Collection.
It was a good car when we bought it, and through the ministrations of Cameron Lovre at Swedish Relics it has become as good as it can be and still be relatively stock.
This is not my first rodeo with a Volvo, so I knew the drill. Replace all the suspension bushings. Put in IDP swaybars and springs. Install Bilsteins.
This car had lived all its life in dry So Cal, so I had the windshield gasket replaced prophylactically. I also had a 123 GT dash cap installed (with its nifty little parcel shelf perfect for a Bluetooth speaker) and a USB power source added.
This is a never-hit, original paint car with a restored interior. Dynamat was installed everywhere, even under the headliner.
My biggest surprise was the expense to source and install 123 GT seat recliners. That was nearly $2,000. But the chrome on the recliners is excellent and really gives the interior of the car a pop when you open the doors.
I paid a little over $10,000 for the car and have put another $10,000 into it. Will I get my money back? Well, we will see.
I don’t consider this a restoration. It is more like a refurbishment to bring it up to stock-plus specs that will let me enjoy the car. But no paint or bodywork. No rebuilding of the engine or gearbox. No swapping rear ends. I’ve done all those things on my Alfas, and I just don’t want to do them again.
With the proliferation of online listings, it is now easier to find good cars than ever before. Online auction companies keep setting higher and higher bars for themselves. They have left eBay in the dust, in terms of what a Cars and Bids seller needs to produce, compared to the back-alley presentation of most eBay sellers.
I’m always in the hunt for something interesting; as I have mentioned I can’t seem to get under 10 cars in the SCM collection no matter what I do. But the cars that interest me now are cosmetically very fine, and mechanically need nothing (or just minor tweaks).
Our Jag needed front suspension bushings. Our 928 needed to be brought back from a long hibernation. Our SL55 AMG needed another key with remote. And our Disco needed the rear hatch door latch assembly replaced.
Since the day I turned 16 and bought my “project” Bug Eye for $30 (I overpaid) I have been working on my cars. I have brought one after the other back from the dead. Fifty-four years later I am no longer buying dead cars with needs. I will buy cars that don’t need paint, or substantial interior work. I want well-kept and loved cars that just need a little TLC.
It can be someone else’s turn to pour love and money into these cars. I’ve finally moved past the “buying a project” car stage.
So far it feels pretty good. After all, the 50,000-mile service on my SL55 AMG was $500. And that is all it has needed in the 5,000 miles I have owned it. That’s less than I paid for the camshafts for one of my Alfas.
What about you? Are you still up for extensive projects or are you going to join me on my automotive Barcalounger and get your exercise by changing channels on your remote control? You can switch from one Motor Trend Network “build show” to the next, and watch dysfunctional families throw parts at each other and do a two-year restoration in four days. It’s automotive fantasy football.