Dear Car Talk Philosophy Question:

Today’s question is “Is it ok to have leftover fasters after the job is finished?”

In a similar vein, if every single part of a car has been replaced, is it still the same car? This question has been debated for ages.

The ship Theseus and the youth of Athens returned from Crete had thirty oars, and was preserved by the Athenians down even to the time of Demetrius Phalereus] , for they took away the old planks as they decayed, putting in new and stronger timber in their places, insomuch that this ship became a standing example among the philosophers, for the logical question of things that grow; one side holding that the ship remained the same, and the other contending that it was not the same.

— Plutarch, Life of Theseus 23.1

Then it is time to let it drop.

When I was about 6 years old, I had a toy–Robert The Robot–that stopped working.

Being a curious kid, I decided to take Robert apart in order to fix him. I actually got him working again, but after I had put him back together, I had a fastener (or two) from his “works” left over. My reasoning was that, if I had gotten him working again, then the fastener(s) weren’t really necessary.

When my father asked me what had been wrong with Robert, my response was, “He had too many parts”. Yes, I had a sardonic sense of humor, even at the age of 6.


Not the same. Simply a copy of what it once was. Whether good or bad copy depends on the quality of the replacement. Of course replacing too many planks at one time means the ship would sink.

I concur. A copy, rather than the original.

At the annual car show, I see vendors that sell fiberglass 32 ford bodies and new chassis. Looks the same but not the same a a Dearborn model.

For those who aren’t familiar with Robert The Robot, this is “him”.

He was powered by turning the crank on the hand-held device, and the power was transmitted to his “works” via a flexible drive shaft. Perhaps this was a GM engineer’s inspiration for the drive shaft of the original version of the Pontiac Tempest.


R Robot looks like a pretty cool toy. Was the included tool chest to repair the robot, or for the robot to do his robot-work?

Another car-repair philosophy question:

When re-installing a part you’ve just recently removed, and there are four ways to install it, but 3 are wrong, what % of the time do you install it all 3 wrong ways first? For me, I’d say nearly 100% … lol …

Brookville Roadster in Ohio sells steel 32 Ford bodies and chassis. if you have a serial number tag for a 32 Ford, it can make registration of the final product easier… but few would believe it was a real 32.


You can buy 100% new steel body’s for a few different older vehicles and build brand new old vehicles your way… and they don’t have the bad (door, fender, hood) gaps and rattles that you would pay so much to get rid of on old classics, and no rust to deal with, much less than a frame off build…

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Old, valuable race cars are often nearly completely rebodied, re-framed and more and no one seems to mind too much. A wrecked $40 million Ferrari race car, if the restoration is properly done will hold its value.

An example of this is the car known as the Ferrari Breadvan… a one off bodied 1961 250 SWB GTO.

This vintage racecar has been wrecked and repaired several times… The latest in 2022 below,

The car is still worth $44 million…


My mother had a ford cartina for her first car. Paid $30,000 JAD ( roughly $200USD ).

It needed several parts to be functional but none of the parts could be sourced.

It needed a pair of taillights. Headlamps. Seats. Starter. And many more.

The person who worked on the car had to make huge cuts in the taillight area to convert it to something that could be sourced and fit.

When the car was completed and road ready, we asked the same question as you did: “ Is this car still a ford cartina ?” Many people said it wasn’t and some said it was since it had the original engine and transmission.

Source: picture was obtained from google.

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Definitely not OK for extra parts left over. I had to look at a leaky radiator last weekend. Had to remove undercarriage panels and panels up top to get a visual. Dozens of pushpins and bolts. Had 2 pushpins left over from a hidden panel. Going to drive me nuts for weeks.

No, it might still have been a Ford Cortina.


I don’t recall whether there really were any tools included. Whether I used the tools mentioned on the package, or if I dug into my father’s tool box, I don’t recall.

With CUSTOM taillights! Your mom must have been the envy of all!

I like Cortinas. That would a fun nostalgic driver

When my brother had his R&R from Vietnam, he chose to do it in Honolulu, where he rendezvoused with his wife, for the honeymoon that they hadn’t had, prior to his deployment. Because they were on a tight budget, they chose the cheapest rental car, which was a Cortina.

He said that, once the engine was started, it was a lot of fun to drive. The problem was that he had to summon a mechanic from Hertz to start the darn thing–every morning–as it would never start for him.

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Amazing how a car built on an island had so much trouble starting in moist conditions!


After 52 years of marriage, I still tend to rent the cheapest car. I’m not saying there is a correlation or anything, just trying to not waste resources.