The Forgotten Art Of Knowing When To Stop

I’ve just failed in my mission to build a Berg Cup Mk1 Volkswagen Golf.

Well, truthfully I never really started it. I had all the will in the world though, and wanted to see it through. Hell, I even went as far as 3D-modelling ideas and made a lot of arrangements to get things moving.


It’s not from a loss of love. I’ve yearned for a red Mk1 Golf since my early teenage years, when I first got into Dub culture thanks in no small part to a Speedhunters article on a red Bergrenner-inspired Mk1. Using an E30 M3 Gurney flap as a rear wing was mind-blowing to my younger self.


I put in extra hours at work, sold bits here and there and really pushed to come up with the money for the Golf in as short a timeframe as I could. Not that it was expensive, but nearly a year of lockdown on top of already terrible financial choices (see: Small Mirrors Will Ruin Your Life) did require a little more sacrifice than it should have.


The outcome of all of my effort is me sat here with a drink, writing this piece, watching the new owner discuss arrangements to collect the Golf from my mate’s unit where it’s currently being kept. The group chat is ironically named ‘Mk1 Golf Owners’ Club’. I still have to pay the rent for last month’s storage.

The thing is, this would have been my first ‘real’ project seeing as my beloved Golf is little more than a rusted-out 1.1L Driver shell. No engine, no interior and a lot of brown on the outside to complement the faded Mars Red paint.


What I didn’t know was that whilst entirely hole-free, the floor of the car was about as thin as a sheet of Rizla and the rear chassis legs were practically rotten through. Obviously I knew it was bad, but I didn’t expect it would be that bad. After this revelation, I made a fairly quick decision that the dream was over and it was time to move on.


At this point, I’m sure some of you are thinking, ‘Is that it? You’ve not even got started and you’re giving up?’. Yes. Yes I am, and I’ll tell you why.

There are hundreds of stories on Speedhunters about people going to extremes with their cars, rescuing them from dumps, pouring thousands into them, rebuilding them after crashes and whatnot. It’s absolutely fantastic, and the sheer amount of respect I have for the owners of these builds is enormous.


But doing that as a 22-year-old with limited space, funds, time and another big expensive car on the go, and it’s just not going to work well without some serious sacrifice. I was never going to sell my 740 to fund the Golf; it means too much to me to part with. I did consider becoming a hermit and living solely on a diet of water, ramen noodles and used air to save up, but there’s a little more to life than that I reckon.


As a result, the Golf had to go. Simple as that. I’m sure one day I’ll put myself through the stress of a ground-up restoration and build, but until then I can get some pointers from a very good friend of mine, Adam Osbourne.

Adam’s pouring his entire life into an absolutely fantastic BMW 2002 Group 5 build, and as a result I get to vicariously live through his pain and suffering, joy and journey without any of the financial outlay and stress. In fact, I thought I ought to pick his brain a little over the phone in order to learn more about what it is that I chose not to put myself through.


MC: Hello mate, how’s it going? I’ve got a few questions about you and the 2002 build. Do you mind talking me through them?

AO: Not at all, I’ve got a few minutes. Fire away.

MC: Let’s start at the top. Why choose an ’02 as a project in the first place? I know you’re keen on Italian metal too.

AO: Well, you know me and I’ve always been a BMW person. When I was young, the 2002 Turbo caught my eye with its arches, air dam and mad stickers. I couldn’t believe it was a road car.

MC: You’re not just going for a Turbo homage though, are you?

02 cage

AO: No, well, I fell down the wormhole of Group 2 and Group 5 race cars and it resonated with me. Plus, I had an E30 that I regretted getting rid of, and I saw how classic BMW prices were going. I decided to do a 2002 before I couldn’t afford to do one any more. Truthfully, I’ve spent a lot more on it already than I ever planned to. In hindsight I should have bought an E30 M3 instead, but it is what it is.

MC: Seeing as you’ve already gone way over budget, what was the initial plan?

AO: So for a bit of context, I bought the car sight unseen after it popped up on a forum. The guy received something like eight messages in an hour, but I was the first to commit to the purchase. I had the car trailered from a leaky, damp, rat-infested garage in East London.


MC: Clearly a worse start than planned.

AO: Yep, initially I thought it wasn’t as bad as I’d suspected. Down the line, it was much worse than I’d thought.

MC: This is the point where I can somewhat relate it seems.

AO: Haha, I think so, and like yours my plans started out simple: Obviously restore the metalwork, but I’d also bought a turbo kit and an M42 engine – plus everything to do the swap. As I got further down the rabbit hole, I managed to get a bodykit made from the mould of a 1977 DRM race car.


MC: So, originally you were going to build a less-faithful track car?

AO: Well, I went to meet the guy at the Nürburgring to pick up the kit and that’s where it escalated. I’m now on my fourth engine setup without ever having driven the car!

(At this point we both started laughing and discussing how much money can be pumped into daft old cars like the ’02 and Golf)

AO: Have you got any more questions, because there is a moment that needs to go in this?

MC: By all means, dude.

AO: I’d tried to make you aware of all the money, time and sacrifice it would take to build that car. So when you came up to get the Mk1 I saw myself in you, all naive and excited to start this build. I saw your face and you looked at me, and we both knew exactly what each other was thinking.

02 front 2

MC: It’s safe to assume I reminded you of how deep you’ve gone in the project then?

AO: Pretty much, yeah. As it stands the shell and full cage and seam-welding is done. Like, now it’s ready for a dry build to make sure everything’s okay before painting.

MC: So I guess that grinding I hear in the background is your E30 build?

AO: Yeah, that’s the project I bought to keep me going because I knew how long the ’02 would take. I’m just finalising metalwork and stuff before the S54 goes in. Custom subframes, suspension, everything. I’m not the sort of person to throw three times as much power into a car without sorting it out.


MC: Glad to see one project of hardship wasn’t enough for you mate!

AO: Haha, I think it’s safe to say that some things never change. Some things take money, blood, sweat and tears.

MC: As happy as I am to be rid of the Golf now, I am sad we won’t have two like-for-like builds to chase on track.

AO: Well, yeah, but I couldn’t just let you not have any sort of project to stress over. Hence why I pushed you to buy the E12.

MC: Thanks for that. At least this one runs which takes a slight edge off the pain. I’ll let you get back to the E30 and I hope you feel bad for persuading me to buy another rusty old car.


So maybe I don’t quite know when enough’s enough. As soon as I knew the Golf had to go, I immediately jumped on Car & Classic and looked at what else might take my fancy.

Kidney grilles just have a special place in my heart, and I love the softer lines of late-’60s-designed cars. When I saw a two-owner E12 BMW 520 up for sale, I couldn’t say no. As it just so happens, Mr. Adam only lived 20 minutes away from the car, so he kindly went to see it and test drive it for me. It didn’t take a lot of persuading for me to pull the trigger. At least this one works, and I drive it to work almost every day. Plus, the license plate is just so f**king cool.


Anyway, I’ll save details for a Speedhunters Garage post when I go through what I’ve already done to it, and when my overdraft starts looking kinda thicc again… That is, if my 740 lets it get to that point. I will never financially recover from this.

Before I go, I want to know which cars you’ve regretted buying and selling the most. How many of you have bitten off more than you can chew, or spat it out before you choked? Alternatively, how many of you have been able to see intense projects to the end? All I know is, I regret nothing. Don’t run before you can walk.

Mario Christou
Instagram: mcwpn



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Awesome story! The true life of a petrolhead. You asked for a story. Let me tell you mine.

I love 60-70-s cars like you, and I live in eastern Europe. So early, Lada was a no-brainer. I got a rare one, a very early series, the first year of production. It was not bad, but I dreamed about the resto-custom project, so I wanted more. That was the first stage of this journey, and I was 23. I believed that I could be a customer, and people can do the restoration for me. I need to work hard to earn money. But no... Random people can wreck a car, not restore it. To find proper people, you have to spend a lot of time with petrolheads and become a community member, and I was not. So I got the worst bodywork I have ever seen in my life, and it was my beloved 1970 Lada. I tried one more time and found another shop. This time my car stuck there with no progress for four years. All they did is disguised the awful bodywork under putty and paint and lost plenty of scarce parts. In the meantime, I bought another Lada, this time it was a 1971 survivor. I lowered it, polished all the trims, and drove it for three years, 90% stock. This is the end of the first part.

Then I understood that I have to learn how to work with metal. I started from the '71. It had minor rust. I repaired a rear fender with a patch. Actually, I succeeded with it. From the first attempt, my welding was better than what the shops did on the '70. But it was not enough. I wanted to learn the best I can. I disassembled the '71 to the bare body. And took the '70 to my garage. This time I already had space to store my metal safely.

The next chapter is my workshop. I decided that I want to learn metal shaping and stop addiction to old stock body panels. That was a breakthrough decision. For several years I'm building the shop, learning metal shaping and welding. I'm building and improving my tools. I love it. Now I know for what I did it all. But to be honest, it doesn't seem that I'll finish a project during my lifetime.

Having a fun-to-drive daily driver can make this journey less dramatic. I changed several cars that I haven't touched with a tool in my hand. Now I drive a manual Porsche 987. Having fun on a road and having fun in the garage, not mixing it, is what I needed in the end.

The E12 is awesome! Good luck with it!

Mario Christou

I can definitely see the charm of an old Lada, and sadly I've seen first hand what bad shops can do when they promise a customer a good job. I've got a daily to use as well, something new and fast with manufacturer warranty which lets me make all the idiotic decisions with the others!

That being said, the E12 has done me well enough to daily when I want that edge of uncertainty to my morning commutes haha.


yeah ill continue pouring tons of money into my build... i dont care if takes me till im 80 at this point. :P

Mario Christou

I'll happily do so on a car that I deem worthy, but sadly the Golf just wasn't it in this case!


Some unfinished projects can lead to finished projects in the long run

Mario Christou

I think I'd argue that's where all finished projects start, it's just a matter of how long you're willing to run for!

Anders Haugen

I have a 1998 civic coupe I've had for over 10 years.
I have tried to finish it by doing everything in small steps, recently I rented a garage which allowed me to do bigger steps every time winter comes around. Now the engine is taken out of it, but unfortunately I have lost faith in the car due to the fact that I feel I just get the car out of the garage but it won't change much and it will just be that same civic I've had for way too long.

Mario Christou

See at this point I'd argue that if you've come this far and already invested then it's worth sticking with it. At the end of the day, there's a reason you've stuck with 'that same Civic' for the past decade; there must be some attachment there!



That Golf is RUFF! Where was it before you bought it? In the salt water surf at the local beach? Sheesh! That one was repairable but it would take some SERIOUS time/money. I discovered Picklex 20 a few years back. This stuff is amazing. Look it up. I'm cleaning up the surface rust on my MKIII Jetta right jow. I want it nice as I can get it. Check out the underside of this MKI. Here's my MKIII Jetta too. Cheers.

Mario Christou

Well it had lived outside for four years with no rear panel which I reckon would explain it haha. That underside is clean enough to eat off of!


gasoline engines will be around for the next 1000 years. as EV is both still too expensive and far too little supported and still uses fossil fuels to mine the resources, produce the electricity and comes with a high useage rate for recharging with a very very low range, EV is almost non instantaneous vs gasoline and requires lots of dollars vs 20$ at the pump for the most fuel efficient vehicle.


I'm not interested in EVs either, but charge times will drop and the cars will become cheaper. It's just natural as any new technology catches on. While that's happening, gasoline will likely become more expensive as it becomes more scarce; I don't know how realistic fully synthetic liquid fuels are, and if older engines can be easily adapted to run on them.


synthetic fuels can be made to produce no emissions, that's what chemistry is for. they can be designed to produce all the power through combustion but end in water out the tailpipe. no exactly hydrogen but more or less changing the properties of it. if we can sythesize oil we can synthesize fossil fuels thus ending the worry about ever having a shorta. and EV will get better and cheaper but what are you gonna do about recycling those batteries? engines can be instantly broken down after cleaning and recycled, EV batteries and motors and systems cannot. we need to stop making the batteries with rare materials. how about making them out of carbon fiber? how about making them out of a new alloy mined from asteroids? why must we continue make them like we did when ion batteries were fist invented??? why do we continue to stay the same and take so long ot innovate. innovations should take 2 years not 20. wer have the processing power and the man power we just refuse to use it correctly and work beyond our normal comfort capibilities. the sacrifice of a few more hours a week or a longer work day in the field of research and development betters everyone. we need to stop remaining the same and be acceptance to change. that being said, if tesla was suddenly 10,000 new overnight with 400 electric hp and a range of 600 miles and a charge time of 20 minutes i would snap one up overnight. if tesla can make a 2 door tesla hatchback the size of a yaris or a fit or a IQ with 400 hp or more with AWD and a minimalist basic 90s feel interior with manual seats. ill be all for one.

Mario Christou

I think there's no denying the way the market is progressing, and whether or not we agree with EVs becoming the trend...they certainly have done. That being said, as long as enthusiasts are willing to keep their cars going and they have passion for it, there will always be a way to keep ICE cars a part of our lives.


This isn’t my own project, but my dad and I took on a customer car that I absolutely hate now. It’s an NSU Prinz, and yeah it’s cool and Air cooled and rear engine and micro, it’s also a rusty piece of junk with no support in America and like 5 people who know what it even is, let alone know how to work on it. Parts took like half a year it felt like to come in from Germany, partly because of corona virus and the messed up mail service. Oh and eccentric rods are cool, but like, I can live without them. So yeah. Not a labor of love. As KonMarie would say, it does not spark joy. Doesn’t spark at all. Had a spark plug cracked off in the head, my dad had to use a little saw to get it out. Fun stuff. Do yah I’m tired of it.

Mario Christou

I'd say that I can feel the struggle, and I really can sympathise, but I think the massive soft spot I have for NSU Prinzes takes away all of that haha! That is definitely a downside to having such a rare little car in your care though. International parts can be a real minefield.


I still regret selling my '85 Pontiac Firebird.

It was my first car and even thought it was only a base model with a 2.8 V6 and smelled like cat urine, I loved it. It was the first car I wrenched on and the first I did an engine swap on. Very poorly, I might add.

It's been gone for 23 years and I still miss it.


their worth a ton in original condition.


A third-gen F-body would be superb if given the Singer treatment.


Third gens are coming up on their time. Lots of really nice ones starting to pop up. But we wasted alot of the shells with shenanigan's so they are not cheap.

Mario Christou

There are a lot of 80s cars that are coming into fashion again nowadays, and I think soon we'll see the rise of shops who can provide a 'Singer like' treatment for a wider range of cars.

Kind of like Icon 4x4, but with a more modern twist.


Thank you for sharing the very interesting experience.

Reminds me of the old Cars of Cuba. These old cars kept running, and still running despite lack of replacement parts. The circumstances, resourcefulness and strong resolution of their owners made these vehicles and country extraordinary.
Money may not matters much there.

Mario Christou

You're welcome! I remember watching an episode of Jeremy Clarkson's Motorworld (a very very old TV programme) on cars in Cuba and it was absolutely fascinating. The extent they go to to keep the old cars running even included someone making their own brake fluid!


No real regrets here, although I'm kind of kicking myself for junking a perfectly rust-free '92 Accord sedan that I started building on way back. However, I began to want the wagon variant anyway. Started collecting parts for its engine build in 2012, and it was slow going because of my budget so I didn't actually pick up a chassis to put it in until last January. As corny as it probably sounds, my passion for the chassis never once wavered, so I kept up with parts collecting. When it finally came time to pick up my 'dream wagon,' I fairly quickly found a rust-free '93. Been working on that in a storage unit ever since. Manual swapped, fully built N/A H22, and some aesthetic bits so far. Just got the engine in last weekend and I'm buttoning that up, hoping to have it on the road by end of summer.

Mario Christou

That sounds like an awesome build! I really hope you get it sorted for summer, have you got any pics?


IG is @accord_aero_r


I had a tin top, short wheel base 300zx Z32 about fifteen years ago, never should have sold it.
My project now is this 280z. It maybe an import, bust still has rust, best I could afford. I’ve been working on it for a year now. Seeing all the cool cars on speed hunters gives me inspiration and keeps me going.

Mario Christou

That's really nice to hear! S30s are just awesome, they make such a good base for a lot of awesome builds.


Nearby, a 21 year old is driving their first car, a new BMW until they realize they want a vintage Ferrari because new cars are so unreliable - but not too vintage, since they're gonna have to learn a manual transmission. That's okay, they'll just wrap the trendy boat louder and (have someone overpriced) throw some wheels and exhaust on it, and maybe a chip so they can say they are pushing almost a thousand horses. The clapped on carbon proves it anyways.

Thanks for keeping true enthusiasm alive, kid.

Mario Christou

Old metal will always be my passion, but there's definitely a place in the car world for people who still want a modified car, but want comfort and speed and reliability with it too. After all, if everyone want the cool old things there'd be none left to buy for the rest of us haha!


So, this resonates with me a lot. Not just because I’m also 22 (and on a college budget) but because I also have an old project that needs way more than I originally thought. The car in question is a 1988 Audi 90 Quattro and over the past two and a half years I have come to the realization that the car basically needs a full restoration.

Before buying my old Audi, I had a 2013 Civic Si Coupe which I really enjoyed. Unfortunately, the Civic got T-boned twice during the one-year period in which I had the car and the second T-boning totaled it. I was lucky enough that my parents were able to supply me with a different car, a first generation Hyundai Veloster. However, while I was extremely grateful to have a reliable form of transportation with a manual transmission, I had no passion or interest in Hyundai as a brand and decided I didn’t want to spend any money on the car. So, I decided I’d buy a project car. At first, I was looking at a BMW E21. It was blue and it was beautiful. Then, after almost buying the little, blue BMW, I found an Almond Beige Metallic 1988 Audi 90 Quattro with a tan-on-black leather interior, a 5-speed and a 10v Inline 5 cylinder engine. The car just oozed character and I ended up falling for the Audi instead of the BMW. I like to call myself something of an automotive historian and, yet, I had no clue what this Audi was when I had found it. This was part of the reason I was so enthusiastic about the car. I was so shocked that I had no clue what it was despite the wow factor it mustered. The more research I did, the more intrigued I became about the car and the more I learned about the legendary Audi Quattro. Anyways, I will digress and say that the car was not in great condition. When I got to the car (which was three hours away), it wasn’t in great shape. Like you, Mario, I was naive and oblivious and had nothing but a star struck look on my face the whole time we were looking at the car. My dad had the same look on his face as Adam had on his when you were buying your Golf. In reality, the clear coat on the top of the car was completely gone, the leather interior was dry as could be and the rear seat and passenger seat were both cracked enough to show the majority of foam underneath. But worst of all, the car didn’t even start originally. It happened to be because of a bad battery. We bought a new one and, though it started right up, it ran terribly. My Dad and I managed to drive the car all the way back home, but the running issue was so bad I had to park it. I decided to take it to the shop and they concluded that it needed just an oxygen sensor to get it running properly again. I told them to change it and they did, and the car ran well enough to drive. I proceeded to drive the car for a mere month before a catastrophic failure occurred. And that failure was the head gasket. By this point, the poor condition of the car began to erode my enthusiasm for it. It was enough for me to decide to take the engine out of the car instead of just replacing the head gasket. I had planned to change all the gaskets in the engine, sensors and clean everything and paint some things. The block was glazed in oil. If the block was a Krispy Kreme glazed donut and the oil on it was the glaze on the donut, it would have been the holy grail of Krispy Kreme glazed donuts. Anyways, I ended up also taking the transmission out as well and cleaning it up also. Over the course of a year, I learned how to remove an engine and transmission from a car, how to clean oil, dirt and grime off of engine parts, how to remove broken off exhaust studs from a cylinder head, how to properly remove old bolts without breaking them off, how to deal with rust, how not to tighten down a camshaft and its caps (RIP cylinder head), how to source used parts for a car that has minimal parts supplier support and a very small enthusiast community, how to disassemble an engine (minus the bottom end), how to assemble an engine (also minus the bottom end) and how to install an engine and a transmission into a car. The journey I had with the car over the course of that year was exhilarating, depressing, mentally-draining and satisfying all at the same time. However, I was quite blind-sided when I wasn’t able to get the car to start. And rightfully so when the year of hard work and effort I put in is in context. I remember the night I got everything back into the car properly. I remember how angry my Dad got at me for making all the commotion in the garage late that night when my Mom was trying to sleep. It’s hard to believe in hindsight that I actually thought the car was just going to start right up. To my bewilderment, I couldn’t get the car started at all that night. I spent the next few months learning about the process of diagnosing and fixing a no start problem. I checked that I had spark, that I had timed the timing belt correctly and a few other things. I wasn’t able to find a fuel pressure tester which put a huge damper on things. I lost interest and the car sat for another year.

Now we are at the beginning of this year on the timeline. I decided to make getting the car started my New Year’s resolution. Before I could get to working on it, however, someone merged into me on the highway when I was on the way home from school. The Veloster was totaled. So, while I had my trusty street-legal dirt bike as transportation, I decided to take the Audi to a mechanic as I knew they would be able to get it running way faster than I could. It took a lot of thinking for me to finally do that as on one hand, I knew I’d be spending a big chunk on it and on the other, I had a lot of pride in the project and by letting someone else get it running, I saw it as putting up my white flag. Anyways, I decided to do it. It took me a while to actually find a shop that would work on it which surprised me and the closest shop that would was two hours away. So not only was I going to be paying the mechanic a boat load, I was also going to have to spend a pretty penny towing the car to the shop.

The car ended up spending about two months at the shop. I had the mechanic tell me every little thing he found before I would decide if I wanted him to fix it until he got it running. He found out that I had set the timing on the distributor incorrectly, it was a whopping 180 degrees off. The fuel distributor also needed to be replaced and the car had a bunch of vacuum leaks. It also now had a coolant leak. He did manage to get it running though, and well enough for me to drive it home. Since then, I have not been able to get it running well. During a few days following the day I got the car back from the shop it would start up easily, but it idled terribly and had a vicious jerking that would occur on low gear shifts at low revs. After these few days, the car refused to start at all. I have to use starting fluid just to start it now and it seems to have developed a weird throttle issue where it stutters at low revs. Just the other day I changed all the O-rings for the injector sleeves and, right after changing these O-rings the car started right up. This was quite a surprise. Just for context, I hadn’t touched the car during the two weeks before I changed these O-rings and it hadn’t ran for probably three. It immediately died, however, and I wasn’t able to get it started again. I have come to the realization that I will never get this car reliably running without spending a fortune, and it has taken me two years of effort, money, and emotional torture to realize this.

I am not giving up, though.

I have spent too much time and energy on this car and I can’t take this beating just to give up on it and get nothing out of it. And hell, to be frank its not worth anything as it currently sits. There are good things about this car, despite my tumultuous history with it. The car itself (meaning the chassis) is extremely solid. When I say there is no rust on the car, I mean there is absolutely zero rust anywhere on this car. It also still has that unsurmountable degree of heritage resulting from Audi’s Quattro S1 in the legendary Group B class. I know it’s not a Quattro or Sport Quattro, but it has the same exact AWD system in it that the Quattro does. It’s just in a sedan that looks different on the exterior. Furthermore, I have already bought an engine to swap into the car. It’s an engine known as an AAN (it’s the designated Audi engine code) which is a 2.2 or 2.3 liter inline 5 very similar to my engine except it has dual over head camshafts as opposed to my engine which is SOHC, it has a turbo and it uses a coil-on-plug firing system instead of a distributor. It also has electronic fuel injection as opposed to my car’s horrible pain in the ass Bosch Jetronic CIS-E III mechanical fuel injection system. The AAN is extremely stout (it’s an iron block; the stock pistons are forged and can handle an alleged 700 hp) and has just enough modern amenities to be reliable enough. It is also the engine that came in the first generation Audi S4 and S6 (also known as UrS4 and UrS6) and is very similar to the engine that was in the RR (last generation) Audi Quattro, the Audi S2 that we never got in America, and the Audi RS2 which we also never got here.

For full disclosure, I have spent roughly $8000 hard-earned dollars (if you count the engine, price I paid for the car and a set of coilovers I still haven’t had the chance to install on the car) working part-time on the side during college to fund this project. And it still isn’t running. On the bright side, I have learned a lot from this project despite it not even running yet. I have learned that cars are very complex machines and you have to take great care working on them, especially the engine, I have learned that buying something on impulse that you intend to rely on is a terrible idea, and lastly I have learned that though you may want to buy that really cool car, but it really isn’t worth it unless it is at least in decent condition. Unless you plan on buying a car to restore, do not buy one that needs a restoration.

The conclusion to this story is that the car is going to sit for another while until I am out of college and am able to fund the engine swap (the engine I bought needed a rebuild; I bought it knowing this as it was cheaper and because I want to build the engine anyway) and to restore the rest of the car. In the meantime, I am shopping for a 2013 Honda Civic Si coupe, just like the one I had before. This time I will be paying for it, but at least it will be reliable. I have learned a lot from my project and I still believe that one day I will be able to restore it and enjoy it like I’ve been wanting to all this time. I’ll just have to stay patient, put in more hard work when the time comes and see it through.

Here’s to hoping I won’t get T-boned again in the soon-to-be-mine Civic Si, cheers!

P.S. Mario, your E12 is beautiful! Speedhunters Garage posts are probably my favorite posts to read and I can’t wait to follow your E12 ownership! I also want to say I am happy you decided to avoid the torture that the Golf would have given you. I am envious of that and wish I would have done the same thing back when I was two and a half years dumber. The E12 will be much more of an enjoyable car!

Mario Christou

Woah, I think you've given everyone a more in depth story than my article, and thanks for the words!

All I'll say is that those Audi 5 cyl engines are absolute units, and they can really take big power with ease and reliability. Definitely see this one through, I can't wait to hear it at full throttle!


It’s funny reading this story, I’m 20 and I’ve owned 2 mk2 escorts. Picked my first up as a whole car, running and everything but it was in a pretty rusty state, I myself am a apprentice fabricator in Australia so I had all intentions of stripping the car down and doing all the metal repair work and putting the car back together but as I stripped the car apart, I found out quite quickly I had bitten off more than I could chew, I ended up buying a rolling shell that already had the repair work done, all that was needed was a paint job and for the car to be put back together in good nick. I ended up building the pinto to a 2.1L with twin 45 Weber’s, new 4speed gearbox, new suspension, it got the point where all it needed was paint and I sold it. I could never get enough money at one point to spend on painting the body. I gave up, lost interest and sold the car and that was almost a year ago now and I regret selling it every day purely because I should’ve painted it and finished the project as the escorts will always be one of my favourite cars and now they’re sky rocketing in price, I may never get my hands on another one.

Mario Christou

Well that's the exact reasoning behind why I jumped at the Mk1. They're just worth such ridiculous money for a clean one nowadays, I thought I'd be able to make my perfect one for the same price. What I didn't count on was that my 'perfect' Mk1 would be such an in-depth build, it simply wouldn't be worth the outlay.

If you ever get the chance to grab another Escort I'd go for it, but only if you really think you'll be able to take it where you want!


Awesome story and glad you had a good friend that helped you know when not to start. Mine were encouraging me. I should've known better than to listen based on their list of unfinished projects sold at a loss.

My worst was a Galant VR-4 (#642/2000) and it's the vehicle that broke my desire for a project car. It wasn't initially intended to be a project, but an interesting daily that needed some work. Bought it rough running, but running. Thought the issue was electronic (bigger injectors but no tune), but nothing mechanical. It had some rust, but didn't look to bad. It sat so low I could hardly check to see how bad it really was underneath. After I got it home, I realized it was worse than expected and my hopefully daily turned into a money pit project. Electrical was a mess, fuel system was hacked, rust was really bad, turbo blew a seal almost immediately, bad compression from a poorly built head, radiator from a volvo(!?). I put more in parts into the car than I bought it for and it still had a bunch of hidden issues and the frame rails could be poked through with a Q-tip. It has thus sat in my driveway for 11 years because I wasn't ready to admit the waste of money was a total loss, but anymore work would've only compounded the issue. I've finally made the call and am getting ready to part ways with all of it once and for all.

I've learned my lesson and am currently being much more cautious before diving into the next project. Wife and I are debating on picking up a 54' Chevy Bel Air sedan to make a rat rod out of while we wait to inherits her 55' bel air gasser from her dad. 54' frame is solid, body has beautiful patina but is still solid without a bunch of holes. Interior is a total loss except seat frames and dash/steering wheel due to racoons. No engine or trans which actually makes it easier to justify a straight SBC/LS swap. We're trying to make sure we're not biting off more than we can chew and that the base is worth the effort. It sucks that sometimes the answer is no, even if my grand vision says "YES!". Would it be cool to drop a LSX on an Art Morrison chassis with 4 wheel independent suspension and a custom new interior? Yes, but it's not realistic and would turn it into a money pit we'd never get out of. Planning ahead, avoiding scope creep, and knowing when to quit avoids a lot of regrets.


Many years ago I bought a van and then a car trailer to help progress my builds. However, that just made it easier to buy more cars