Friday, October 19, 2012

Just How Much Say Does The Wife - Girlfriend Have With Your Classic Car Decisions?

by Andrea L. Algar
Motorheads Performance
Boy is this a loaded gun! I know the criticisms will come from writing about this, but here goes. I've been thinking about this article for quite some time, and last month, I put out a poll on my blog on this very subject.
Today, while reading an Internet article on healthcare, I came across an article on The Billfold by Bill Foster of Portland, Oregon entitled Love My Ride, But Wife Says It Has To Go. After reading through the list of ads he'd copied from Craigslist (just some of the 165 he claimed referenced the word "wife"), I knew it was time to come out with my thoughts on the matter.
The very first one was about hot rods, so I was hopeful I'd find more specific references for old car enthusiasts, who I believed would certainly relate to this topic.  It read, “I bought it to make into a hot rod for my wife but after getting it home she changed her mind.??”  Okay, I thought, we're going to find some great stuff here. Then I found another, "I bought this to restore myself but I probably jumped the gun with too many projects and the wife was upset with me…” Okay, this sounds like what I would expect to hear.
Since starting a hot rod shop with my husband, I've been surprised at just how negatively many women act towards a husband or boyfriend's pursuit of something they love. After all, even though owning a classic car or muscle car can be an expensive hobby, wouldn't they prefer this over a) running around with another woman, b) spending all their time getting stewed at a sports bar, or c) gambling or some other annoying and costly pursuit, just to name a few?

Why Is It So One-Sided?

I don't like getting "stuck" talking to the wife or girlfriend if all she has to do is complain about the time or money her husband/boyfriend spends on or with his car. I find it selfish. As a woman, I know how much our little pastimes of shopping, beauty, shoes, purses, (you name it) cost, and I've never understood why it should be so one-sided. Think about it. A woman can spend $1,000 easily on clothes, or on a cosmetic procedure such as laser hair removal. She might spent $2,000 on hair extensions, or $5,000-$8,000 on breast implants, liposuction or a tummy tuck! $1,000 in car parts can go pretty far for repairs or modest upgrades, and $5,000 could certainly give you some punch in performance upgrades.
And the things that women will demand can range from mild complaints to constant nagging, threats, to sometimes intentional bizarre acts like giving stuff away, or even intentionally wrecking the car! I'm collecting stories to highlight in an upcoming article, as well as offering this quick survey to get a good idea what guys are faced with out there.
My Blog Poll:
Ever had a wife or a girlfriend from hell? Did she interfere with you enjoying your ride?
Tell us how. And, if you have a story you'd like to share with other readers, send it to We may use it in our upcoming article!

(Actual Poll is at right in side bar - please share your experience)

Look For The Warning Signs and Take Action

Guy Algar and I like to ask our customers to take a hard look at their life situation before committing to a project, particularly if it involves a complete restoration of their classic car or muscle car. If you don't you might just find yourself writing an ad that sounds an awful lot like these:
  • “I hate to see it to go, but I’ve got a baby on the way, and my wife is forcing me to sell all my toys.”
  • “Wife wants the car out of the driveway.”
  • “Wife says it is time to see it go so I’ve lowered the price.”
  • “This is my daily driver. Love it but wife said it has to go. It’s all stock...”
  • “I just don’t have the time or money to complete. Plus the wife says I HAVE to get rid of it.”
Wife says I have to get rid of it! Wow! I'd say the time to get these things worked out is BEFORE the wedding! If you're a guy who loves his cars, you shouldn't have to give up your hobby. Be willing to talk about how important it is to you and how you don't want to ever have to give it up. See if you can hash out an agreement that isn't one-sided. Try making win-win agreements by giving your girlfriend/wife a chance to put some time and money into something that she likes. Make a budget of both time and money that you're both entitled to and you might just find you argue less about it.

Not All Women Think Cars Are Evil

My daughter had a lot to say about this article when I mentioned it to her. Not being one who likes being type-cast, she rightly pointed out that there are women out there who like cars themselves, and who really like the same things that draw guys to working on their projects. Girls working on cars? She points out that sometimes guys don't always choose their girlfriends with the best priorities in mind! "And they don't have to be butch either," she exclaims, "There are girls out there who love old cars and still like looking pretty."

When Guy and I opened our specialty shop, she took to the old cars. She knew what she liked, and wanted to get a car of her own. And, she wanted it to be a project! She wanted to learn everything she could, and wanted to do it herself. So, after finding the "perfect" vehicle, which was a Jeep CJ, she began the learning process with some guidance and coaching from Guy. The Jeep needed just about everything including an engine rebuild, lots of new parts, exhaust, floor and body work, suspension work, you name it! Whoever worked on it before she bought it seemed like he intended to do some quick work to "flip it", but was in over his head. It was just thrown together and barely stood a ride down  the street.

Several months later, she had a great looking, fully restored Jeep CJ, complete with bubblegum pink engine, nice custom metallic blue paint job, bold tires, bimini top and a nice sound system. All completed herself. She's busy right now looking for her next project, which she'd like to be a late 60's GTO (let us know if you know of one). Here, she's busy working on her Jeep's engine, and as you can see, she's not afraid of a little grease!

But, she's also a girl, and likes to dress that part too.

So while I pen words of caution, and encourage you to work out terms of compromise with the woman in your life before it becomes an issue that is a sore spot, I also offer hope for those who are still looking for someone who will be content with their hobby. My feeling, and that of my daughter, is that you shouldn't have to give up something that is important to you. It's an unfair request.

Some, like me, know what it's like to have an important interest that you want to have supported, if not understood and appreciated too. I had a lot of business knowledge, and a certain degree of interest in old cars, but I certainly didn't have the hands-on knowledge that I now do. I genuinely like supporting Guy in his interests with classic cars and muscle cars (even though I don't always understand what he's talking about), and I like having my own special interests in them as well. While we might have different tastes in the cars themselves, we find that we love working on them side by side, having some laughs over occasional frustrations like a seized or broken bolt, or wind up with me receiving some instruction on something I'm stuck on or needing help with a little bit of extra muscle! Then we can enjoy an evening watching the late evening Texas sunset over stories of the day. The same cooperation is allowed for other interests I have.  A give-and-take.

Give & Take Is Good Solution

One of the best examples I saw of a true give and take deal was where the couple mutually agreed that he could have his toy (a Viper he liked to race), and she could have her horse (a dressage horse from Brazil). They each had budgets that they could spend each month pursuing their own hobbies. As a result of their commitment to each other, and of allowing each other to have separate interests they were able to spend time and money on, their relationship was strong.
Some couples share the same interest in cars, and this can be exciting for both, but it also needs to be understood that you may not share everything in common, and that's okay. You don't ever have to try to talk one another into a single point of view. Life would be boring if we all thought exactly the same about absolutely everything.
This poll ran in a sidebar for several weeks. I've re-opened it for another 4 weeks in hopes to get more participants to cast their vote. From the stories I've heard, I'd believe just about anything when it comes to the outrageous things women will do to prevent their men from enjoying their rides! I've heard of engines and even whole cars being sold right out from under the guy's nose, then the woman spending the money on clothes! 

What do you think?  Know a good story? Let me know!

 Andrea L. Algar is co-owner of a classic car performance and restoration design shop in Leesville, Texas. Motorheads Performance specializes in repairs, maintenance, performance upgrades and restorative work on cars and trucks from the 1920’s through 1970’s. Her husband Guy L. Algar is a Mechanical Engineer with over 25 years experience. He holds 5 ASE Certifications from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence and has been working on old cars and trucks for over 37 years. Together they share their passion for old cars and trucks with other enthusiasts from around the country.

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