"This is how a resurrection really feels"
- Hold Steady
The beautiful cars we admire at car shows and auctions don't always start out beautiful. The "new car smell" for which many of us long, has often been replaced by rotting and brittle dried out horse hair (pssst! It's actually coconut husks on old BMWs!) and rodent funk. Diving in takes guts...and a measured amount of denial mixed with determination. The denial for me, is a concentrated mindset that ignores the pathological effects of mouse urine, dessicated rodent bodies, spiders, decade-old food particles, and dried out ball point pens. If you have a child gleefully stuffing Cheerios into the side pockets of your 2002...someday...somewhere...someone is going to hate you for it.
It's not all misery though. There's something beautiful and sacred about sifting through stained fragments of old papers and the evidence of life's moments collected within the glove boxes and seat crevices of a new project. My disgust is replaced by the wonder of archeological discovery as I gain a handle on the history of a newly acquired old BMW. The determination is fueled by the instant gratification of revealing the hidden beauty beneath decades of corrosion and grime. Every small part, once cleaned - becomes a new finished jewel. It starts out with the initial wipe-down of the dashboard, and the polishing of switch bezels and chrome hinge parts...as the shine begins to flow throughout the vehicle. That's the fuel I use to keep going, when things get ugly.
Parts...cars always come with parts. Filthy ones that are of little or no use to anyone...which is why they were stuffed in the trunk 2 weeks before a car is sold. It's amazing how often the same spare parts appear in almost every old BMW I get. Hubcaps. Old steering wheels. Used up fuel pumps. Cheap Off-brand 1970s oil filters. And rock hard replacement fan belts. It's always the same.
I start every BMW rescue project in pretty much the same way: I empty out all the parts that aren't part of the car. I try to eliminate all the extra mental chaos and distractions caused by these things, in order to assess and focus on what the car needs...and how much love it is going to take to save it.
Once things are reduced to the car itself, I start cleaning. I've found that dollar store spray citrus cleaners work as well (or better) than the high dollar automotive specialty products. I recommend wearing at LEAST a dust mask if not a full tilt respirator for deep cleaning. Bacteria is nasty stuff, and you'll be kicking up a lot of dust as you shake out the cobwebs and critters. On an earlier blog entry here, I discussed some cleaning techniques. Cruise through past entries and you'll find it!
On this 1969 2002, purchased from the original owner, I found some amazing ephemera. Among those small treasures were:
A letter of recommendation for a promotion, from one Marine to a commanding officer, recommending the car's owner for an upgrade. The letter was dated from 1970. I can only imagine how long it's been in the glove box...or why it was put there.
Various US Marine uniform insignia...both Captain's bars as well as Major insignia. A wooden desk name plate with the owner's name and rank engraved in brass.
A stamped metal "dog tag" containing a prayer about having the Lord watch over him while separated from his wife - this one signed by his wife.
A business card from some government office with the name "Christopher Christie" and a New Jersey address.
Combs, old pens, receipts, 1970s road maps of Canada
Wheel cylinder rebuild kits, oil filters, fan belts, transmission parts, spare strut housings, off-brand shock absorbers, air filter assemblies... the usual suspects.
I have mailed all the family artifacts back to the late owner's family, as that's where such touching pieces of history belong. I am nothing if not a completely sentimental baby. It's why I restore cars after all!
Once relatively clean, I started sorting out the things that often suffer with age. I've re-wrapped the entire wiring harness using factory OEM tape, wiped off decades of grime from under the hood, installed new hood insulation (a pattern unique to the early pre-1970 cars!)
Once I got all the electrical and interior components functioning (door latches disassembled and re-lubricated, heater motor freed up, wiper linkage soaked with penetrating oil, etc...it was time to see what was salvageable of the original Bristol gray paintwork.
I'll leave you with that cliff hanger.... as I'm still trying to figure out what's hidden beneath the 30 year old yellowed bodyshop applied clear-coat, myself!
Until then...here's some specials for this week:
Correct German wiring harness tape. 19mm x 25 meter roll (2 rolls should do an entire 2002!) $8.00 / roll. Smooth fabric (not fleece) and adhesive on one side. Great stuff for maintaining originality throughout the engine bay and trunk area!
OEM Valve Cover Gasket. $7.00
OEM stainless steel hose clamps. 2002 Kit: $48.00 (call for other applications!)
Thermostat assembly (71 degree) $18.50
Genuine BMW front nose trim (along front of hood) $135.00
Call about OEM clip and fastener kits for upper belt line trim!
upper "squeegee" trim chrome WITH seals included! $149.00 per side
Contact us for details, or to get parts on the way!
Most parts ship the same day!
1-800-950-2002 Classic Hotline: 412 585 2067
e mail: firstname.lastname@example.org