Almost everyone loves a beautifully restored classic car. If you are the owner of a vintage or classic car that is in need of some love, you might want to plan for your classic car restoration. You can do the classic car restoration yourself or seek some expert help. In some cases, you can maximize your budget by having a professional shop do the body and paint work while doing the mechanical and assembly work yourself. But, before you start, there are some key things that you must know.
Create a plan for the restoration of your classic car
There are various choices you have to take before beginning with the restoration. To begin with, assess the body panel by panel, making a list of what appears to need replacing or patching. Get under your car and really look at the floors, trunk, battery box, and wheel wells. Next, assess the mechanical components: steering, electrics, fuel system, brakes, suspension, transmission, and engine. Finally, take a look at the interior, trim, and lights. As a final step, make a history of your classic auto, what locations has it spent time in, what mechanical work was done, various accidents and associated bodywork, any repainting done, etc. You are now ready to talk to a restoration shop and get some costs outlined.
Unknowns that pop up even in the best plans
When restoring a classic car, there are a number of potential unknowns that can affect the cost and timeline of the project. Some of these include:
- Hidden damage: The car may have hidden damage or rust that is not visible until the disassembly process begins. Often this will be in the floors, rockers, lower A-posts, wheel wells, and/or lower doors.
- Missing parts: The car may be missing parts that need to be sourced or fabricated, which can add to the cost and time of the restoration.
- Unexpected repairs: During the restoration process, other problems may be discovered that require repairs, such as a damaged engine, transmission, or suspension.
- Inflated costs: The cost of labor and materials can vary widely depending on your location, and prices may be higher than expected.
- Delays: The restoration process can be slowed by unexpected delays, such as waiting for parts to arrive or dealing with setbacks during the bodywork or painting stages.
- Cost overruns: Unexpected expenses can add up quickly, resulting in cost overruns and putting the budget for the restoration project at risk.
These are just a few examples of the unknowns that can affect the cost and timeline of a classic car restoration. It’s important to be prepared for the unexpected and to have a contingency plan in place in case the project takes longer or costs more than expected.
Make sure you know the car parts you’ll need
It’s not always simple to locate the correct parts for your vintage car. This will depend largely on if you are planning a resto-mod or hot rod, or a factory-correct restoration. If you want to go the factory correct route, then you may start acquiring the parts you have identified in your assessment (see the above section). If you are planning a hot rod or resto-mod, then you may want to get the engine and transmission. Other parts will be smart to begin mocking up and seeing what space you have.
You also can collect body panels that you have identified, from the beginning as well. If your car is a rare model, you may need to source donor panels, however, those might need restoration as well.
What sort of classic car restoration do you need?
The most basic type is the “Daily Driver Restoration.” This would generally leave the mechanical parts in place while refurbishing the brakes or other items that need attention. Plus, a re-paint, which could either be from bare metal or on top of factory paint. You may want to re-chrome a few things that are very worn, or just put everything back on if it’s in decent condition.
The next level of restoration is a “Show Restoration,” which would include removing and refurbishing or replacing all the trim and lights. The mechanical systems would be taken apart and refurbished or replaced as well. The body would be media blasted, including the underbody. Fresh paint would be applied and new leather and carpets put in.
The most involving and most expensive is the “Concours Restoration.” This is for cars where you want every nut and bolt taken off and every item cleaned, blasted, refinished, or re-plated. This car you want to be perfect. These are not cars that are intended to be driven around, but to be displayed to visitors and guests and at the top shows.
Understand the safety concerns with a classic car
Old cars are not the safest. They have minimal safety features when compared to cars of the day. They don’t have airbags and most don’t have safety belts. Including safety belts and other basic
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