Longevity Project Car

A man and woman laying in bed smiling for the camera.

And I specialize in fixing things up and restoring them to their former glory. She wondered if that talent extended to humans, maybe even humans who never really had a former glory.
~ Jill Shalvis

Aging in Place

I like fixing things. Several years ago I bought a “Field-Find” 1958 Jeep Willys Wagon (*when my wife was out of town) that needed copious amounts of TLC. It was a bucket list item of mine and I was determined to learn how to work on an old car.

It’s been over 5 years now since “Memphis” arrived in my driveway, and many oil drippings, trips to the auto parts store, friend consults, youtube visits, four-letter expletives, skinned knuckles later, I have learned so much. But a “project car” is really like stringing beads without a knot on the other end–it’s endless…


Entropy: : The degradation of the matter and energy in the universe to an ultimate state of inert uniformity Entropy is the general trend of the universe toward death and disorder. ~James R. Newman (Merrian-Webster online)

In the Universe there is a force that is ever-present, it’s called Entropy. The second law of Thermodynamics essentially states that things in the universe go from Order—>to—->Disorder, and to reverse this (temporarily) takes energy.

The “project car” is a fine example in microcosm. Let me explain, my Willys sat in a field for decades and nature (the second law of thermodynamics) did it’s magic on it. The vehicle was a mere shadow of it’s former glory when it rolled off the Detroit assembly line in 1958 with that new car smell. The decline was awe inspiring…And motivating!

Energy to the Rescue

So to reverse this Entropic mess I named “Memphis” meant I’d invest X-number of years and dollar$ (AKA energy) fixing it. And this is a commitment many older guys make, often with more devotion and lust than they invest in their health or other key areas of life. This is on display especially during the summer months when Car Shows are in full bloom!

There are beneficial unintended consequences to “the project car” that may go un-noticed to the casual observer that have a direct effect on another type of Entropic process call “Aging.” Let’s unpack this…

Fixing + Problem Solving = Neuro-Protective

There has long been a robust body of research touting the benefits of novelty and complexity on the aging brain (See Neurogenesis). The entropic project car is the challenge/s that requires the aging brain to rise to the occasion and make right again (energy). Further, I would argue this process also has other longevity benefits:

  1. Purpose (fix something)
  2. Meaning (this could be a legacy car for a grandchild)
  3. Build social capital (you get out and talk with others)
  4. Pure Joy of owning a Classic car (Delights the senses/identity)
  5. Exercise (not sitting and watching TV)
  6. Life-Review memoires

There is a beauty in decay and payoffs in reversing it. Owning an old car in need of repair is really an analogy…Reversing Entropy (aging) takes energy, which in the end is the key to life.


*I suggest you not make the “Project Car” purchase when your wife is out of town. But you can employ my arguments for why you should.

Dave Wilcox A Rusty Old American Dream


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