4 Tips for Restoring a Classic Car
Breathing new life into a classic car that’s been marred by the passage of time is an enjoyable, even exciting thing. However, whether you’re interested in restoring a muscle car to its former glory, or wish to rejuvenate a faded luxury vehicle, you will need to do things right or you risk running over budget and potentially not finishing the project. Below, we’ll discuss some of the most important tips you should know.
1. Your Budget
This is perhaps the most important consideration. You simply must know how much you have to spend on the project and then stick to that budget. Going beyond this number is never a good thing and can derail your entire project. To set a budget, you will need to have a very good idea of what you’ll have to pay for replacement parts, part fabrication if replacements are not available, labour and all the rest. Of course, this does require that you have an idea of what car you’ll be restoring (which you should already have) and the level of restoration that you wish to achieve.
2. Know Your Restoration Level
When most people hear the words “car restoration”, they immediately assume it implies show quality. However, that’s not always the case. Your goal with the restoration project may not be to enter the vehicle in a show. It may simply be for the joy of being able to drive that classic on the road. There are four levels of restoration:
- Driver Restoration: This is nothing more than restoring the car to the point that it is drivable and fully functional.
- Casual/Street Show: This is restoring the vehicle to the point that it is fully functional and any major cosmetic problems have been handled.
- Show: Show cars are in outstanding condition, both mechanically and cosmetically.
- Concourse: The concourse level of restoration is the highest possible, and should only be done by professionals. Vehicles in this category are not intended for actual use on the street.
3. Choosing the Right Car
While you might have a specific make and model in mind, it still remains to find the specimen that you will restore. This will take time and a great deal of visual inspection. You will need to investigate the entirety of the car, from the interior of the boot to under the bonnet to the undercarriage. You will need to inspect for the obvious, such as body damage, but also for less obvious problems, such as rust. Unless you hit a spot of luck, this process can take as long (or longer) than the actual restoration itself.
4. The Car Should Start
While not always possible, it’s ideal to locate a car for restoration that will actually crank and run. A vehicle that has been sitting for decades and will not start is a completely unknown quantity, and might end up becoming a money pit that offers little to no return.
With these four tips, you should have the basic knowledge to start on your restoration odyssey.