Love on the rocks…

It’s easy to get excited about a Singer 911 or the perfect overlanding rig. Ain’t no surprises there. Attention to detail and follow-through make for meaningful projects—but that doesn’t mean we have to go that far to experience that kind of quality for ourselves.

Thoughtful projects, well-executed, can probably get us close enough for our needs. Consider the simple, stock overland rig or the Honda Civic Cyber Night Japan Cruiser 2020, for example. Attention to detail doesn’t have to mean lots of details.

Here’s an audio version of this post!

Note: The audio may not reflect the correct episode number or link. Brian lost count of episodes so we had to re-number them. 

We’re drawn to perfection.

We see a Singer 911 or an ICON4x4 FJ and immediately recognize it for what it is—the pinnacle of platform development. Every gearhead who’s ever touched a project vehicle has dreamed of what it would be like to strip it completely down to the shell and refurbishing, replacing, or upgrading every single piece of it.

We also know that’s something of an unrealistic dream, too. Sure, perfection on that scale is possible, but it comes with a massive price tag—and not just financial. The time and effort required to build machines of this caliber is almost ridiculously inordinate. A US$500k restoration on an already hard-to-find, air-cooled 911 takes 4,000 hours to complete. That’s two full years of full-time work.

The Trissl Singer 911 | image: A. Crawford, (click for more)

We are filled with doubts.

You see the Singer 911 and you see the perfection and you want it for yourself—but you ain’t buying no half-million dollar cars anytime soon. Even if you are—you’re gonna think long and hard before giving your baby and the big cash money wad over to someone and waiting two years to enjoy your purchase.

In a similar vein, you might be building an incredible overlanding rig with all the latest bells and whistles—but you’re not quitting your day job and driving off into the unknown to live in your truck for years on end. If you are—you’re gonna think long and hard about how painful it will be to give up all your stuff to live like a glorified transient.

We’re never finished.

We’ve all joked about when the project is finished. (The answer is NEVER.) Would the project be finished if you could devote two full years of full-time effort and $500k to it? Maybe. Probably.

The reality is, we know what it would take to complete a project to perfection. And even if we had the time and money, deep down inside, we’re not so sure we’d want to spend all the time and money it would take to achieve said perfection.

We’re not that dedicated.

A Singer 911 might be so amazing it makes you wanna cry—but even if time and money were no object, would you really want to spend all your time building it? 8AM to 5PM. Monday through Friday. You get up, you get dressed, you roll into the shop, and you work on the car. The ONLY car.

How much time are you willing to spend cleaning nuts and bolts? Stitching up your one-of-a-kind seats from scratch? Waiting for one of those uber-rare whatchamacallits from the obscure, European model sold 20 years ago to come up for sale so you can get just the right look?

We’re overland AF.

Speaking of “the look”, the perfect overlanding rig is absolutely possible. Buy a vehicle. Fix everything. Make it simple, reliable, and relevant for the expected terrain, and go overlanding. The perfect overlanding rig is the one that’s being used for travel, preferably to other countries.

For every guy in the Overland Expo parking lot talking about the gear required to go overlanding, there’s a dozen people driving mostly stock cars around the world, let alone those riding bikes or just straight up walking.

Perfection is the enemy of done.

The most important mod is always the driver mod. You wanna go overlanding? Take Tim and Kelsey’s (and so many others’) advice—pick a date and go. You’re smart enough. You can do it. Commit to a date and everything else will fall into place. It’s scary because it means compromise—but it also means you no longer have to worry about perfection.

And if you’re more the ultra-premium street car type, you don’t need $500-grand and a Porsche. You could do something as relatively simple as the Honda Civic Cyber Night Japan Cruiser 2020 recently shown at the Tokyo Auto Salon.

Just build a nice car.

The CNJC 2020 hatch doesn’t appear to have a crazy, modified engine making mad power. It doesn’t have name brand wheels or seats installed. It’s just got a few mild cosmetic mods done that all come together in the form of a super nice little car.

I’d love to build a car like that Civic. Being mostly stock, it’s gotta be super reliable, fun to drive if not reasonably quick for what it is, and it just looks super neat. Call me a ricer if you want—15 years ago, I would have done the same—but I’d rather be driving the nice, clean, reliable car that turns heads than a daily reminder of how I’ll never reach the end of my to-do list.

Little details. Big dividends.

Learning to modify our machines has given us a taste of agency. Whatever else happens in our lives, we know that we can fix anything—especially if it’s car-related—but we’re also looking to avoid trouble and danger and disappointment like everyone else.

On the surface, that might look like not being the most prepared or not having the nicest vehicle, but if we’re honest with ourselves—and we should always be honest with ourselves—I think a lot of it stems from worrying that we don’t measure up to others in our communities. After all, if you’re a gearhead or an overlander, shouldn’t you already have everything figured out?

Be perfectly imperfect.

Thoughtful planning, attention to detail, and follow-through pay big dividends. We all want the best. Maybe, instead of chasing unrealistic perfection, we should try being perfectly imperfect. Travel makes you an overlander. Attention-to-detail makes things special.

Start thinking about where you actually want to be. Be brutally honest about where you are right now. Connect those two dots. Once you have your bearings, you don’t need anyone else’s roadmaps ever again.

Pay attention to details that really matter.

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