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Master Class: Aaron Kaufman's Built or Bought Car Project Tips

Sure, Aaron Kaufman may be leaving Gas Monkey Garage and Fast N’ Loud – but he’ll never stop being a great car builder. While we’re waiting to see what’s next for the guy with the beard, Driving Line sat down with him to ask what his top tips were for people looking to build a project car of their own. Here’s what he had to say…

1. Understand the Cost Involved

While you may be able to pick something up at an auction, such as Barrett-Jackson, for a steal – that has no pertinence to the cost of actually building a car yourself, whether doing it in your own garage or paying someone else to do it. If it’s a paying someone else to do it, get comfortable with the cost of skilled labor and the amount of hours that go into a car project.

Aaron Kaufman Working in Garage

At Gas Monkey Garage, Kaufman advises, “For basic drivers, we start at 1,000 to 1,200 hours. If you’re wanting something built that your friends don’t have, we’re looking at about 2,000-2,500 hours. As we break 3,000 hours, these are cars that your friends haven’t seen and that people really start talking about. So for every one of those hours, you’ve got to realize that you’re going to pay somewhere around $100.”

2. Built or Bought, Respect the Process

“A lot of people will knock a guy for having a car built instead of building it himself. There are two solid factions, with a good group in both,” says Kaufman. “Just because you built it and it sucks doesn’t make you awesome – and just because you bought it, doesn’t make you awesome either.”

“There’s a certain amount of respect that comes from the process of getting with a builder, bringing an idea, designing something and then having the patience to have something built. If they had the patience, planning, thought it out, picked a builder and went through the process then they absolutely deserve respect.”

3. Have a Plan

“I think everything in life needs to have a plan. If you’re building a car, know exactly what it is you’re looking to see at the end. Sure, the project is going to change a little bit through the process, but you need to know what it is you want to see on the outcome. Know what you’re trying to accomplish.”

Aaron Kaufman Working in Garage

4. Just Do It

“It’s funny how quickly you can turn someone into a car person. A lot of the Fast N’ Loud production crew that comes into Gas Monkey Garage ends up wanting to learn how to weld or how to work the machines. The funny thing is they don’t actually do anything about it. I get those questions all the time and I’ll point to them and say, ‘There’s a welder, there’s a hood. Pick it up and practice.’ When it comes down to it though, they just don’t sit down and do it.”

5. Be Willing to Fail

Invariably, if you do pick up the tools and practice, you’re going to fail. Don’t stop there. Kaufman advises, “I’ve failed hundreds and thousands of times. If something sucks, you throw it away and start another one. Keep doing that and eventually you don’t suck. Then you get to where you’re good. And maybe after that, you get to where you’re better than the people you know.”

Aaron Kaufman Working in Garage

If you’re building a car project yourself, Kaufman’s overall tip is, “You have to have patience and let persistence pay out. You have to keep going. If you want to learn how to do something you have to try it and know that you may not nail it on the first one. Sure, some people are just more talented than in others in certain things, and that shouldn’t deter you. It’s just one more reason to get better, one more reason to try harder. Some people who are a little less talented at certain skills are going to have to work harder – but if they want it, they’re capable of exactly the same things.”

Want more car project advice from top builders like Ringbrothers and Icon? Catch it here at Driving Line!

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