Winter, for some, means long evenings spent watching entire series on Netflix or Amazon, reading books put aside for the cold weather in front of the fire, or simply tucking up warm and counting the days until spring. But for others it’s a time to light the work lamps and retire to that bastion of winter projects — the shed.
With images of open roads and sunshine in mind, a certain group of people see the cold weeks ahead as a time for greasy hands, the odd skinned knuckle or two, meticulously laid out arrangements of classic screws, washers and pieces of chrome trim, and Haynes workshop manuals fattened by Post-it notes. In short, winter is shed and garage time, a section of the calendar when projects take shape with the aid of thermos flasks full of tea or soup, and activities unthinkable during the long summer evenings — with their BBQs and fishing trips — are finally taken off the back burner.
For many, this will not be the first winter spent stripping and planing, boring and honing, welding and painting. Most of those who succumb to the classic vehicle bug have more than one project on the go, and we know as gospel things which our friends and loved ones shake their heads at in disbelief. There’s only a little more work left to go. It will all come together once those last elusive parts arrive from somewhere overseas, via the Internet. The sound of that engine coming back to life after years spent in rust and dust will herald the rebirth of a machine that’s worth, well, far more than just a sharp kick of nostalgia and a pile of receipts.
The truth, according to one friend who is a fellow addict of vintage rolling steel, is that a chilly evening spent in the shed, with rain on the roof and a recalcitrant carburetor assembly spread out on the bench, is a kind of meditation. In a very Zen-like fashion, the pursuit of a perfect, showroom-crisp 1970s Ford is less a destination than a journey, and that even when (never if, for the doubters) the object of all that attention finally sits in the summer sun at a beach hop or auto show, there’s always next winter to consider.
That, and the meta-perfection of the shed itself, which always seems to need new tools, new shelves, new cupboards and tin signs advertising that here, in this place, the chaos of the outside world can be made sense of, one patiently rebuilt cylinder at a time.