The winter is a good time to work on overdue...

The winter is a good time to work on overdue projects for your classic car. Credit: General Motors

Around this time of year, many people begin to go a little “stir crazy” from being cooped up indoors more than they would like to be. If you have a bad case of it, you may have even been diagnosed with Seasonal Affective Disorder, also known as SAD.

But if you’re like me, you’ll tend to go a little “car crazy” instead of “stir crazy.” If you are severely afflicted, you may have been diagnosed with Car Affective Disorder (CAD), Motorcycle Affective Disorder (MAD), or even Boaters Affective Disorder (BAD). It’s even possible to have multiple diagnoses such as MAD BAD CAD.

But there are ways to minimize the symptoms of MAD, BAD, CAD, and sometimes even SAD by recognizing that these days of cold temperatures and long nights offer alternative opportunities to enjoy our classic cars in ways that we had not considered before.

First, and perhaps most obvious, is to use your classic car right through the winter months. I’m not suggesting that you go for a pleasure ride when there’s three feet of snow on the ground, or even three inches for that matter. But there are plenty of crisp, clear days when the roads are dry, the sky is blue, and there is simply no logical reason not to use your classic car for errands, or a day trip. Roll up the windows, crank up the heat, turn on the radio, and marvel at what a great job these old cars did of isolating us from the elements in cushy, climate controlled, musically enhanced comfort. Not too bad for a car that is likely approaching, or has perhaps exceeded, half a century of life.

Because the other three seasons of the year are often very busy, especially on weekends, the winter months often afford us an opportunity to make longer term plans and tackle longer term projects.

One thing that gets me through December and January is looking forward to the car show and auction every February in Atlantic City. It would probably be difficult for me to get away for a three day weekend in the summer, but in the dead of winter it’s no problem. Apparently thousands of others share this same sentiment, because regardless of the weather, these people drive, bus, and train their way down to the Jersey Shore in such large numbers that hotels are sold out months in advance.

Other large multi-day, indoor winter events take place in Allentown, Pa. and Springfield, Mass. in January, and then in Philadelphia and Springfield, Mass. in March. I’m sure that there are others as well.

The winter is my favorite time of year to tackle long term projects. And by long term I don’t mean a full restoration or an engine rebuild. I mean a project that, given your own personal time constraints, might mean losing the use of your car for one or more weekends during the summer. This would be unacceptable. But in the winter it’s no problem.

An example is a Camaro that I’m working on. It has two issues that, although simple to fix, could mean losing the use of the car for a couple of weeks. The first is an inoperable temperature gauge. Basic trouble-shooting has indicated that the problem is either in the dash wiring, or the gauge itself. I have to remove the dash to identify the problem, and I have no intention of putting it all back together until the problem is fixed.

I may find a simple problem that can be remedied on the spot, but there is also a possibility that I’ll have to order a gauge.

The second problem is seat belts that won’t retract. Like the temperature gauge, they will need to be removed and disassembled. Maybe I’ll be able to fix them, and maybe I’ll have to order parts. Given that I can only get about an hour a night of “garage time,” and there is a possibility that parts will have to be ordered, either one of these simple problems could cause the car to be out of commission for about a week. Unacceptable in the summer, but no problem during the winter.

Without the seasonal time constraints, these projects suddenly go from being a source of pressure, to being a source of pleasure.

Follow these suggestions and there’s a good chance you’ll be able to ward off MAD, BAD, and CAD until spring arrives. Then you can start your list for the next winter.  

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