Selling A Project After Years Of Toiling Is Painful Heartache

The hardest part about leaving any relationship is the memories—the thoughts of all the good times you’ve had together. The hardships, the triumphs.

The same holds true for project vehicles. A few years ago, I purchased my first motorcycle, a 1981 Suzuki GS550L, for $300 off Craigslist. It was the beginning of an imperfect but beautiful relationship that I wrote all about in an article a few months back.


The relationship, admittedly, involved quite a few more bumps, bruises and setbacks than I expected. Like the time I seized my engine by using too much starter fluid. Or the time I forgot to tighten the bolt at the top of the fork and the whole bike wobbled erratically. Or the electrical wiring from hell that smoked every time I started the bike.

Back then, I was probably cursing profusely. But looking back, these were good times.

But we got through it, me and my GS. I donned my rubber gloves, broke out my scalpel and started surgery on my poor, wounded motorcycle. I tightened my fork nut and read through confusing wiring diagrams, eventually figuring out the pesky electronics.


I tracked down an engine donor on the Internet, and $75 later, I transplanted its healthy four-banger into my disabled machine. In the end, I spent an entire year bleeding, sweating and crying trying to get the bike fixed up, but eventually I was finished.

We were back on the road, gunning through Detroit in awe of the incredible architecture and history. The four cylinder engine and that four-to-one exhaust system blared down Gratiot Avenue at 7,000 RPM. It was the most beautiful sound I had ever heard.


But I won’t ever hear that sound again.


Some riders decide to hang up the gloves when they start having a family and just lose time to ride and maintain their bikes. The same thing happened with me, except by “family,” I mean “large collection of automobiles.”

Owning so many cars meant I could no longer store my vehicles in the Fiat Chrysler parking lot; I had to move to a place with a garage, so I left my little apartment in Detroit for the suburbs.


Now I have a garage, and I can take care of my vehicles. But riding here isn’t as fun, and with my family of cars to wrench on, I just don’t have much time to ride.

Eventually, I saw myself riding less and less, and then I realized: I need get rid of her.


I threw the old GS on Craigslist for far more than I really expected to get. It was my way of convincing myself that I was at least trying to dump one of my projects. But nobody replied. So I dropped the price to a level that was still more than the bike was worth. Secretly I didn’t want to get rid of her.


But eventually logic prevailed, and I lowered the price to $600. I knew someone would buy it for that price, and I just wanted it gone. I wanted the bandaid ripped off quickly.

In short order, a guy came by in a Chevy Blazer and took my first motorcycle away, along with my enormous pile of motorcycle parts. My garage had cleared out a bit, and I was feeling weird.


I wasn’t feeling strange because, in the end, I probably lost about $600 on the whole ordeal. No, I felt that peculiar way because of what I’d put into that bike. It was over a year of rigorous wrenching with my friends, tons of research online and in books, and many visits to random people on Craigslist selling parts.

The people I met, the friendships I strengthened by wrenching with people, and the joy I got riding the bike, made watching her roll away on a flatbad a heartbreaking moment.


But I learned a lot from that relationship. I can fix an old Japanese bike with my eyes closed, and now I’ve got more space, coin, and time to work on my other projects. So in the end, I knew it was the right call.

Still, I miss her.

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