There’s something undeniably romantic about the thought of restoring a classic car – removing the detritus of the passing years and renewing the vehicle’s original glory. For most of us, restoration is a passion project, rather than a day job. And, because of that, it can be more challenging than we initially expect. Some aspects can be more challenging than others, though.
No doubt you’re prepared to scour junkyards and dusty garages for the right model, with minimal rust. You’re ready for the search for the right parts, and you’ve prepared for the financial cost. What other challenges should you prepare for?
Perhaps the most surprising challenge in restoring any car is dealing with space needs. You might think that your garage is the ideal area. However, it is important that you realise you’ll need at least twice the amount of space the car would require if it were all in one piece. It might be better if you had three times that space, actually. A single restoration job can take up the entirety of a two-car garage and still need more room.
When will you work on the project? How many hours per weekend do you have free to dedicate to restoring your car? What are you prepared to sacrifice in order to pursue the project – time with your spouse? Time with your children? Time doing something else that you love?
Most restorers have a wide range of necessary tools on hand to deal with their projects. However, very few have all the tools they will need, particularly some of the larger ones, such as engine hoists and gearbox stands. Assembling all of the tools you need will be incredibly costly, which is why many restorers choose to borrow or rent tools. Do you have someone from which you can borrow the necessary items, or a place nearby that sells or rents them?
The drive to push through when setbacks occur can wane over time. You start strong, the vision of your car restored to its original condition bright in your mind’s eye. Over time, that vision dims and the romance of it all wears away, eroded by smashed fingers, lost time, and the ever-increasing cost of the project. Just being able to keep going can be an immense challenge.
Finally, locating and paying for parts can be immensely challenging. The older and rarer the vehicle is, the more difficult (and expensive) this becomes. In some cases, there may be no replacement parts available at all and you will be forced to fabricate something on your own, or you might have to use a part that looks similar but is not actually an original part for the vehicle.
There are plenty of other challenges associated with restoring a classic car, from removing rust to matching the original paint. However, the five we’ve mentioned above often outweigh others, and may even come as a nasty shock to those embarking on their first restoration job.