Dad-ing

Life Restoration – Finding a vehicle to fix: Part One.

As a boy, dreaming of the day I’d be able to get behind a wheel and taste freedom, I’ve always loved cars. Not just the vehicles themselves but the idea of opening the door, getting in, turning the key and going wherever I wanted.

Growing up in England, the options were mostly small hatchbacks like a Mini or Ford Fiesta. They were incredibly nippy and fun but didn’t have much oomph.

My second car. I drove this little Fiat around southern England for a few years before moving to Canada.

Years later, after a decade of driving and loving every minute, I moved to Canada where the roads are bigger and so are the landscapes. There’s more opportunity for adventure and I couldn’t help but want something bigger.

Of course, this dream had to be put on hold as we needed something straight forward, practical for city-living, and safe, like the 2015 Ford Focus we got (on great terms!) from Johnny Goold at Brown Bros. Ford in Vancouver. This isn’t an ad, but if you’re looking for a genuine guy to help you get in a new vehicle, go there.

As much as I’d love to go back and pick up an F150 or Explorer from their lot, it’s just not in the budget right now. I really love Ford because they’re just so reliable. I mean if they had a spare Ranger on the lot I’d happily take that and forget this whole thing!

So, in the meantime. My wife came up with an idea to satiate my dream of owning something with my constant eagerness to tinker and (try to) fix things. She said “Why don’t you get an old car and fix it up?”. Genius.

Aside from building my own log cabin, this was always something I wished I could do if only I had the time or ability to do it. As with so many other things, I realised I was putting up my own barriers to a goal. I can make time and, after talking to other people who have done the same thing, I just have to get a Haynes manual and work my way through the fixes.

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That settles it. I’m going to rebuild/ fix up/ tinker with/ and try not to break a car. Or a truck. Or a Jeep. Oh dear. I don’t know which to choose.

The vehicle needs to be:

  • Look cool and have lots of character
  • Made before 1990 – easier mechanically to fix
  • Small enough to drive around Vancouver (even downtown)
  • Be fun for taking up to the mountains (not off-road)
  • Have space for 3 people (at least)
  • Potentially be good family camping/road trip vehicle
  • Not be a gas-guzzler
  • Be cheap to insure
  • Not be full of rust
  • Around $1500 – $2500

Possible candidates:

  • A Jeep Wrangler/ YJ – is this too small? Fun but not practical
  • A Jeep Cherokee – cool but does it have enough character?
  • A Ford Bronco – fun but hard to find within my very limited budget
  • An old Ford Truck (F100 or F150 perhaps) – great character but too big?
  • A Toyota Land Cruiser – big and might be expensive on gas but the engine lasts a lifetime
  • A Jeep Wagoneer – hard to find, drives like a tank, tricky to get parts

Any advice?

Oh and I’m gonna need to buy a bunch of tools too! Where do I start?

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