You’ve done it. You are at the nadir! Anything you do from this point forward will temporarily counteract the entropic tendencies of that system known as your car -assuming an asteroid or flood doesn’t stop by for an afternoon chat. From here on you’ll be moving closer to that first turn of the ignition key, that first drive, that first stone chip. Or: your car is as apart as you can get it without employing cutting tools. Everything from here on out is part of the process of putting it back together.
As with any process, there are things that need to be done in preparation, things that just need to happen at some point for the process to be considered complete, things that can be done simultaneously, and things that need to be done in a specific order because if they are not, they either can’t be done or a lot of time will be wasted. Some are obvious -you wouldn’t paint before the rust repair or torque the head before putting the head gasket on for example, but others are a little more subtle, like assembling the front turn signal lights - but mostly it’s a matter of not doing things more than once or twice if possible, and taking advantage of big blocks of time the car will spend with experts -such as when getting rust repair and paint. If you are doing every single thing to the car yourself then the process will take however long it will take because you can’t do more than 1 hour per hour.
Car manufacturers are keenly aware of the dependent and independent processes that go into putting a car together. Everything is prepared and on hand for trained staff to do the job efficiently. Here some Montreal’s and Dino’s (?) get coupons for Pizza delivery tucked under their windscreen wipers. I got this image off Alfa-male, a great Alfa site.
The hypotenuse (as the crow flies or whatever) would be having everything ready for reassembly when the car returns from the paint shop and having studied the parts and workshop manuals so that you are ready for doing the assembly, having all the parts, tools and supplies you will need on hand. You could get out your Microsoft Project software (or Open Project if you’re cheap like me) and spend weeks doing research to come up with the critical path items and a hypotenuse would fall out of that -but the hours/days/weeks you would spend with that project file could be, perhaps better, spent on the car repairing and polishing all the trim, rebuilding/refinishing easy stuff like heaters, air boxes, brakes and gauges,-basically doing the project instead of thinking about and planning it.
So where do you start? Assuming you have all $50K or whatever allocated and need ‘the usual’ amount of work done to the body, you start with the body. Why? I can’t think of a time when things went as planned and got done on schedule where rust repair, bodywork and paint were going on. Besides a little time babysitting via the occasional shop visit or phone call, you will be free to tackle a modest pile of parts and get to a few of the other send-it-out-and-hope-it comes-back-like-you-expect stuff done.
The head is another popular long lead item that you will probably have someone else do. I think this was 6 weeks. Mmmm titanium valve spring keepers! I still need to calculate the energy savings associated with the saved reciprocating mass. I know -fat guy in a carbon fiber bicycle…
The body is realistically not the first thing. Making sure you have all the parts you need to finish the project to your specification is. This is not rocket science, it’s not skilled labor, it’s just making an inventory of what came with your car, comparing it with what is required to be attached to the car to call it a complete car and tracking down the balance. Why do this first? If you’re looking for a Sprint Speciale drivers window or a pair of Veloce filter canister metal straps then you know why.
Up next? Whatever I choose to ramble about!
* ‘Pretty please my dear aunt Sally’ is mnemonic device in the spirit of ‘every good boy does fine’ for remembering the order of operations in arithmetic: powers, parenthesis, multiplication, division, addition subtraction.