I'm settling my father's estate. My dilemma is this: the 1980 Camaro he factory ordered is up on blocks in my backyard. It was once his pride and joy, and he dreamed of restoring it. As a single female I question whether I'll have the time or resources to rebuild the car. Is a 1980 Camaro worth the investment? What should I do?
- Daddy's Girl
First of all, condolences for your loss. It's understandable that you might want to bring your father's dream to fruition. But think of it this way - if he was a big game hunter, would you really want to honour his memory by hanging a moose head over your fireplace?
Do you really love automobiles? If so, what kind of cars do you like? Is a 1980 Camaro a car you would cherish? Can you imagine yourself driving around in it on a hot August evening? And most importantly, is it something you'd like to spend your time and money restoring?
If the answer is yes, try putting some air in the tires, and check the fluids. Find out what's working -- and I'm not just talking about the engine. If your dad loved Smokey and the Bandit or Cannonball Run, you've probably got a CB radio and an 8-track player to revive, too. Have a mechanic do a full inspection, then contact the local Camaro club for a second opinion on whether it's worth fixing up. If not? Cash-for-clunkers is an option with GM Canada -- maybe you can factory order a 2010 Camaro, and take some styling cues from your dad's car.
If the answer is no, you don't dig your dad's Camaro, but you still love cars and want to carry on with his dream of restoring a classic, pick one you like. That's probably what he'd want you to do. Hey, if you're going to bankrupt yourself for a dream, it might as well be your own -- whether it's owning vintage Christian Lacroix (though his label appears to be bankrupt, too, this fall), or reviving an old car.
Which brings us to an important point -- restoring automobiles is rarely an investment. We've all seen the ads for classics: "$20,000 invested, selling for $10,000!!" Fifty cents on the dollar is what you can expect to earn if you choose to sell the finished dream one day. Labour of love is the best description for what you'd be undertaking here. Not to say that auto restoration can't be a money maker, but the odds are slim to none that you'll recoup your investment.
There are so many cars that elicit passion in men and women. Who can honestly say they don't appreciate the sound of an AC Cobra rumbling by? Or the timeless lines of an Austin Healy 3000? The other night a friend and I drove by a BMW dealership. Did we notice all the shiny new BMWs and Minis in the showroom? Nope. We looked past them to the unmistakable hind quarters of a 1965 Mustang GT convertible. From that distance we couldn't tell if it had been restored, but it was beautiful nonetheless. What girl doesn't admire a first generation Mustang convertible?
You might think some of the cars I mentioned are out of reach for you financially, but almost anything can be had at any price, depending on its condition. You then simply manage the dream with hard work and money. Check out Corvette options. You might find a body style that you love. Everyone knows that the Corvette, other than for a few years where it lost its way, has been the automotive performance target all other North American manufacturers have attempted to match. Not only that, but a classic Corvette is one of the few cars where a restoration could possibly make you money.
As for the Camaro, there were some great years for that car. Is there anyone capable of walking past a 1967 Camaro SS convertible - say a black one, with skunk stripes - without straining their neck to admire its elegance?
Getting back to your dad's car. My advice is, don't go with your heart on this one. There's not much to like about a 1980 Camaro, or for that matter most early-80s North American cars. But if you really want to do it, and your dad would have wanted you to do it, roll up your sleeves and apply some elbow grease. But honey, forget about Christian Lacroix shoes for the foreseeable future.