Why ‘Traumatic bonding’ is what separates the Men from the Boys #BuiltnotBought

For a while now I’ve been thinking of installing a massive neon sign in my workshop?! It reads ‘Built not Bought’

It is a bold gesture and one I’m earning every time I work on my cars. It’s a simple truth, one you just can’t escape from. If you’ve done everything possible to get your hands dirty, covered in blood, oil, cuts and bruises – then your getting close, well closer to understanding the truth of ‘built not bought’

Yes, you can’t do it all, you’ve started off with a car that someone else has designed, tested, built and marketed. So, although your e30 Restomod is effectively restored from that rust bucket barn find to an s54 engine swapped show stopping monster…. er, yep it’s still the original creators vision?! That you’ve restored and put your spin on….

…..and as much as you can do it all…. when it come to say, the final wheel and chassis alignment – do you really want to spend £12k  on a Hunter Alignment system? just so you can say you did it all by your little old self? So there are some jobs, some issues and quite a few parts of your ‘built not bought’ that needs the support and expertise of others

That aside – ‘built not bought’ means to me, at least this:

To learn a new skill, better yet – to find the courage to attempt what may ultimately knacker your beloved motor should you get it wrong, when even just the smallest little mistake can cause thousands of pounds/dollars worth or heart ache. To mastering a fault that has alluded you, as you chase error codes. To stripping nuts, snapping bolts and having to drill em out

‘If you suffer with something it increases the bond. It’s called traumatic bonding, so you must value what it is because you have to go to so much trouble to keep things together’

Or worse – when it’s cold and the weather is just pissing on your head as your on the ‘hard shoulder’ (escape lane) of the motorway because the expansion tank you’ve only just fitted has come loose and the radiator top pipe has ejaculated it’s entire content of sticky green coolant all over the engine. Your miles from home and yes, it is your fault and your problem to deal with… Okay you could call a breakdown truck at this point – but you don’t you fix it all right there on the side of the road. Then limping a few miles to a supermarket where you can buy enough bottled water to fill up your cooling system enough to get back home in one piece without overheating… To then set about replacing and overhauling your entire cooling system part by part – with the fresh smell of disgrace still hanging about in every nook and cranny of your engine bay, just there to remind you of your previous oversights. Yes, that’s when you get it right. That’s when you start to understand ‘built not bought’ – It’s what’s know as ‘Traumatic bonding’ and only through this experience can you achieve a higher understanding, a finer appreciation and ultimately a greater connection with your car

Every time I drive, I can feel all the parts I’ve worked on

Sounds like a lot, but I have done so much to my beloved BMW sports tourer. From a complete suspension overhaul with H&R coilovers and PowerFlex bushes, Copper break lines, Goodridge braided lines and calliper restoration running Brembo pads and disks, the Quaife LSD and induction kit all the way down to the mundane things like fuel filters and spark plugs – all done in my workshop, by me. The gorgeous M-Double spoke style 68’s were beautifully refurbished by pristinealloywheels.co.uk  as I don’t have a vat of acid, nor a giant kiln to bake alloy wheels in. This job was best left to them at a far price for such excellent workmanship. So you get my drift? It’s not that ‘built not bought’ means you’ve done everything yourself as macho as that seems, it’s just not realistic. But it does mean, you have earned an appreciation for your own car through your own craftsmanship

And then there’s the ‘chequebook car’

Admirable, is the guy who’s made a shit load of money taking over an ageing company, making 80% of it’s workforce redundant and homeless and then selling off what’s left to foreign investors. To only go a to a custom car or bike workshop and have them build him the car or bike of his boyhood dreams. So that he can go to a few car shows, a couple of track days and then mothball the dam thing in an air conditioned garage

The best in the business hate these clients – Really they do, but they’ve got crew to pay and families to feed – So they’ll take your money and build that dam car – it’s never going to have that soul, that something extra, that bit on the tip of your fingers that’s touched just about every part of the car your driving around the Nurburgring at speeds that you know, both the car, your workmanship and your skills can handle. And maybe just maybe in that split second as you rev match that perfect down shift into the carousel your brakes, clutch, gearbox, steering, suspension, engine and drive train all come together with you as both the driver and the craftsman – maybe at that point after all the good, the bad and the downright bloody knuckles of ugly, that’s when ‘built not bought’ comes together, right there in that split second…

– and yes, that realisation will last you a lifetime
– and no, no amount of money can buy you that


One comment

  • The only meaningful car to own is built with your own hands. Then you really understand the interweaving of the mechanical bits that move your ass. If you’ve never unloaded the weight of the car while tightening the suspension after refurb, how can you understand why it corners so much better?


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