I Put My Project Car Plans On Hold Because Of Coronavirus And You Might Too

Lada shown for illustrative purposes only. (Photo: Antti Kautonen)

I have one of those long-form car deals brewing. You know the type, the kind of a car purchase that can take years to work out even if the car isn’t really worth that much. You see a reasonably rare example of a given model driving around town, or maybe parked for a long time in a car port, and you eventually approach the owner and leave details because you feel it might work out.

It’s not a spur-of-the-moment thing, but rather waiting for the stars to align so the owner finally calls you and tells you that you can come over and buy the car off them. They might be old and you might seem odd to them for caring about the car they bought in 1995. Your friends might say the same.

In my case, it’s probably been five years of waiting for a car to become available. A few weeks back I got a call from the current owner’s daughter, and we made plans that I’d go check the car out this month and see what I’d offer.

We already discussed the price, and I don’t even feel like lowballing them as a save of a hundred dollars isn’t going to mean much in the long run. I arranged some space in the barn so I’d know where to park it, and so on. I might have already bought a set of wheels for a car I don’t even have yet. You know, the usual stuff.

Well, then came Coronavirus. It was only a matter of time when measures would be taken to protect people from catching it and passing it on, and here’s the bit where I tell you what I did and suggest you might do the same. I sent a message telling I’d rather not visit the elderly owner at this time, and we agreed that it would be wisest to wait it out and see how it goes.

With a pandemic sweeping the globe, it’s advised that people simply stay home for quite some time. This doesn’t mean you should empty the local grocery store and sit on a throne made out of toilet paper. This means minimising unnecessary social contact, especially since people of advanced age or otherwise frail will be the ones in greatest danger if they contract the virus.

Even if I’m voluntarily self-isolating with no symptoms of anything else than car buying fever and terrible sense of humour, it’s best not to bother someone you know would have a hard time overcoming the disease in case it actually spread to them. Getting a car deal done is way less important than making sure you’re not the one making life more difficult for someone else.

The other side of the coin is that commerce will slow down to a trickle. I’m not going to buy the five litre jug of 5W40 for the car, or the new filters and spark plugs, or getting the timing belt refreshed at the shop down the road. Multiply this with every other car enthusiast not spending a dime on the car they decided not to buy, and it’s not difficult to imagine business suffering everywhere you look.

But by making an effort to slow the virus from spreading and postponing things instead of cancelling them, you can help those businesses to have work to do when things eventually return to normal. And for that to happen, they will have to be able to stick it out for the time being.

If you can order parts and stuff online from small entrepreneurs to support them while they don’t have as many visiting customers as usual, please do so - especially if you can find a way to help business owners local to you.

So, the deal can wait for a little longer. I’m doing what’s certainly advisable: sorting the crap I already have, arranging the barn, fixing existing issues instead of barging into another project car just so I can have it. Currently a lot of car enthusiast events are put on hold or cancelled altogether, so I wouldn’t even have anyone to show it to. 2020 seems all about making plans for 2021.

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