Getting Your Spouse To OK Your Crazy Car Project


If you’re a car guy or girl – and there’s a good chance you are if you’re reading this – there’s a car project that you’ve always wanted to tackle. It could involve a classic muscle car, like a ’66 Mustang or ’69 Charger. It might be an offbeat vehicle like a Baja Bug or Toyota Hilux. You may have passed up on buying a buddy’s ’91 Corvette back in the day, or you might like it a little quirky, like the RX-7 with a Wankel rotary engine.

As we all know, life happens. You never quite gather enough cash to initiate the car project of your dreams. You didn’t get the promotion you thought was yours, and you can’t afford to splurge on a fully-restored pony car. And then there may be kids – they can be more expensive than owning a fleet of vehicles, greatly reducing your chances of getting your dream car.

Compadres, don’t despair. If you have a vision, a small amount of money, and just a tiny bit of influence with your significant other, you’re on your way to starting your car project and building a car you’ll be proud of.

That’s right, you’re going to BUILD your car. Now there are a few prerequisites here, mainly:

  • You need space, and lots of it. An open garage bay is sufficient. Expect that there will be parts that make their way into your house for cleaning, prep, and other dirty jobs.
  • You need time. More time than you expect. Like double. You might want to finish the car project in a year, but the reality is probably more like two years. There will be delays.
  • You’re going to require a fairly substantial tool collection. Pliers and screwdrivers won’t get you very far. You’ll need a grinder, air compressor, and even a cheap welder will help a lot.
  • You need to have at least a little cash flow. The more the better, because you could spend every penny of it. And honestly, you’ll probably sell a few possessions along the way to help your car project along.

If you have these things, it’s time to talk to the better half.

Step 1: The Long Road Ahead

If you come right out and tell your spouse you want to do a car project, have Kleenex on hand. It’ll be to wipe his or her tears from laughing so hard, or from crying that you don’t want to spend any time together. Bringing a car project into the family could take a couple years of hinting and subliminal messages.

From personal experience: It took me five solid years, maybe more, to finally snag my project car. It happened with a lot of car talk, asking my wife if she liked a particular car that drove by, and going to car movies with her on date night (I know she loves me). There were questions like, “Would you want to drive that car” and “Ooh, that looks like fun, doesn’t it”.

It might go quicker for you, depending on how receptive your spouse is to the idea of an immobile car tying up their garage space. However, emphasizing the finished product is paramount if you ever plan on getting your foot in the door.

Step 2: No Advance Looks At The Project Car

You’ll be searching for project cars, probably for months. It’ll be a long time before you actually get the blessing to do so. Then one day, you’ll come across a car you absolutely love. Here’s where your years of preparation just might pay off…

But they won’t if you reveal what the car looks like now. So no views of the car listing in the classifieds, or your chances are all but blown. Any awareness of the true nature of your basket case and you’re dead in the water.

Step 3: Work It, But Ever So Gently

Now’s the time to lay it all on the line. Butter up your better half by making a nice dinner, going out to a movie, or some other way of spending some quality time. You’re not that subtle; it’s obvious you want something. But you’re trying to produce a good mood with the hopes of getting a yes.

Introduce the idea at some point when the moment feels right. Say something like, “Honey, you know I’ve always wanted a car I can toy around with, right? I might’ve come across something that we’d both be able to enjoy when it’s done.” Whether you have any intention on sharing your car or not, this is the right thing to say.

Have pictures on hand about what similar COMPLETED cars look like, and a stock photo too. I reiterate – do NOT show her what the project looks like now, unless you want to hear a great big NO.

Don’t expect an immediate answer, and don’t act like the future of the world or your relationship hangs in the balance. The answer this time around could very well be no. Remember, it’s a long process and you may have to pass this opportunity up and wait until the next one…or the one after that.


Step 4: Bring the Car Project Up Daily

It helps to believe in a higher power at this point. Pray that the car doesn’t sell to someone else before you get the green light from your better half. It may take a day, a week, two weeks, or even longer to get an answer from your spouse.

Work the project into conversation daily. Ask them what color she would want on the car. Does she want it to be a sleeper, a rat rod, or a menacing muscle car? What’s most important to her? Promise that the car will be everything she wants it to be, and more.

Eventually, you’ll wear her down to ask for a final approval to pull the trigger.

Step 5: Execute the Full Court Press

You’ve worked your dearly beloved to the point of asking for a firm answer. You really want this car, right? Do what it takes to make it happen, even if you can’t follow through completely. Do you have to promise to clean the house weekly or be more attentive for date night? Commit to it! Do you have to swear the car will be out of the garage before winter? “Honey, I promise,” should be your answer.

It may not be totally honest, but you want that project car. Know what you plan to do with it and reiterate your intentions. Show your pictures of potential end results again, keep talking until you have worn down all resistance.

Full disclosure: Your first attempt at this is probably a twenty-percent shot. You have to have a car buff for a spouse to get it the first time. But every time you try it, the odds improve. By the third or fourth attempt, the odds are actually in your favor, so don’t get discouraged at the first “no”.

I know this to be a successful tactic from firsthand experience. In fact, I’ve used it for multiple purchases, from chainsaws and Bobcats to power tools. Most recently, this tried-and-true technique helped me acquire my very own crazy car project – a 1988 Mazda RX-7 Convertible.

Don’t laugh. It’s a fun car that’s going to be a whole lot more fun by the time I’m done with it. It’s also going to involve a lot of money. So, stay tuned for the next episode in the series: How To Hide The Expenses Of Your Crazy Car Project!