Vintage or classic cars always stand out when they are in perfect condition. Perhaps, you spotted one in the neighborhood or on TV, and now you want one for your own personal use.
Bringing a vintage car back to life is thoroughly rewarding. Plus, these cars are quite valuable and marketable due to their scarcity.
Whether it is for personal use or financial gain, this post will cover the topic of how to restore a classic car to its former glory. Follow along and learn how to gain that awesome feeling when you complete your own vintage car restoration on a rare model.
Of course, this is not something to be taken lightly.
To be satisfied with the results, there is a lot of work that needs to be done. Time and patience are essential since it often takes hundreds, if not thousands of hours to complete one restoration.
Define Your Goals
Before you start restoring, the first step you must do is write down exactly what you want to achieve. This will ensure you can manage your time and budget accordingly.
A good strategy is to think about how you want to use the car once it is restored. This clear goal will help define the amount of work needed.
Probably you prefer a “street-show restoration” rather than just a “drive restoration”.
Getting a car to be road legal requires the least amount of restoration time, when compared to the next two options.
With the drive restoration option, there is not much work involved as long as the car is in good condition to begin with. For example, you might only need to replace a few damaged parts, tyres, and work on some rust issues.
In most cases, you will be on the road within no time, as these tasks are not too time-consuming. However, your vintage car might not be all that flashy unless you move to the next, higher level of restoration.
Street Show Restoration
With street show restoration, you get an amazingly awesome car that stands out. Onlookers will turn heads and point in awe as you roll by.
If this is the reason you want to restore a vintage car, more work is required. Not only does the car need to be road legal, but all aesthetic issues, whether major or minor must be fixed too.
Concourse and Show Car Restoration
The amount of dedication and work involved in this level of restoration is at the peak of the industry.
If you are planning to have the vintage car in your private collection or as a show car, this is what you are most likely aiming for.
Much of the work involved to get a vintage car to this condition is needed by professionals. If this is what you want to achieve, you should be ready to invest a lot of time and money into your car restoration.
Do Plenty of Research
Just like all other projects, this one will require thorough research.
This will help you list all the work that is involved to get from where your car currently is, to your end goal.
Some questions to answer include:
- What is the complete process overview for this restoration?
- How much will it cost?
- What is involved in each part of the process?
- How long will it take?
- What parts of the process can you do yourself?
- What parts need to be left to the professionals?
- Are your goals achievable with your available time and budget?
Build a List of Resources
You will need a reliable list of contact to help you along the way. From local mechanics to specialists for the specific type of vehicle you are restoring.
You should also consider joining several car restoration clubs. Try and find specific ones to the car you are restoring. This will help you build even more valuable contacts for tips, tricks and spare parts.
Your New Best Friend – Auto Wreckers
As you may know, cars that are no longer roadworthy are often sold to car wreckers who provide car removal services. For car restoration enthusiasts, these places are goldmines.
Here are a few reasons why your local automotive wrecker should become your new best friend.
Hard to Find Genuine Parts
Car wreckers buy all different makes and models. This means you gain access to varieties of car parts including rare ones.
They buy Toyotas, Mazda, Mercedes Benz, Nissan, Jeeps, Subaru, even not so common and discontinued makes. This means, auto wreckers may have parts that you have asked for in shops and car clubs with no success.
Spare parts sold by car wreckers are always cheaper than when you buy new from shops. For example, if the part costs 200 dollars in a dealer shop, you may get it at 100 dollars from a car wrecker.
They usually sell the spare parts for a fraction of the cost in a shop. It is not just because they are refurbished, but also because they buy cars at affordable prices.
Just make sure the part is in working condition and not damaged. Also ask if the wrecker provides any warranty, just in case.
Purchasing spare parts from car wreckers is playing a role in taking care of the environment. This is due to the fact there is no need for a new part to be manufactured when old ones are reused.
Let The Restoration Begin
Now you are finally ready to get to work. For most restorers this is where the real fun actually begins.
Just make sure you follow the sequence of events as listed in your restoration process overview and perform all work in stages as required.
Work closely with your mechanic and auto electrician throughout the restoration to ensure that all mechanical and electrical parts of the car are in safe working order.
Most older cars that have not been used for some time will have body issues. It could be numerous dents, damaged paint work and rust spots from unrepaired accidents, hail storms or just old age.
To do the job properly, the paint must be stripped off, and the dents must be hammered out. A panel beater may be your best resource here.
The engine must be checked first to see if it works and if not, can it be repaired or does it need full replacement.
Perhaps, it is better when swapped rather than upgrading it, however depending on the rarity of the model this may not be an option. In such a case a complete rebuild may be required.
Once the restoration is complete, a safety inspection is needed to ensure it is street legal.
In fact, you may have requested a safety inspection at the start of the restoration to understand exactly what the car needed to pass this final inspection.
Time to Show it Off
The time has finally arrived and you have reached your goal. Now it is time to get your friends around and show off your restoration.
Better yet take the car for a lap around town, enjoy your vintage car that has been given a new life.
You will know how good a job you have done with how well it drives and how many heads you turn along the way.