6 Basic Steps Towards a Successful Car Restoration Project

If you’ve always dreamed of restoring a classic car and have a project in mind, doing a little homework before you take the plunge will help you to make the call as to whether you’ll have what it takes to do it. Many readers will have seen the alternative - rusted relics waiting for a sometime-maybe-never restoration while the owner tries very hard not to look at the junkyard eyesore that’s taking up yard or workshop space. So, before you commit to a restoration, implement the 6 basic steps that you need to take for a successful revamp of a classic car.

1. Assess the Car Thoroughly

Just because it’s a make and model you love doesn’t mean that your junkyard find is going to be worth restoring. Obviously,the more work it will take to get the car up and running again, the more time-consuming and costly your project is going to be. For an easy restoration, a vehicle with most of its components in a fairly good state of repair is the ideal. A little mechanical TLC, some body repairs with the help of a TIG welder, a lick of paint, and your classic is road-ready and raring to go. That’s not to say you shouldn't attempt a tough restoration - but if you decide to go that route, know that you’ll be pouring a lot into the process and be sure that you’re willing to spend the necessary time and money. To determine this, assess the car as thoroughly as you can.

2. Think About Authenticity

For purists, nothing but original parts will do. But that’s not the only way to go about a restoration. Generic spares can do the job and you still get a car that looks exactly like the “real thing.” However, if you’re hoping to resell your classic after restoration, you’ll fetch a much better price if you go the fully-authentic route. At the same time, it’s going to raise your costs and occasionally, try your patience, especially when original spare parts are hard to come by. Think it through and test the waters by searching for some of the costlier components you may need to replace.

3. Be Realistic About Your DIY Skills

Just how good are you at repairing cars? Getting the entire job done by professionals is going to cost a pretty penny, so the more you can do yourself, the better. Besides, if you’re just into owning a classic car and aren’t going to do the actual restoration work yourself, you may as well just look for a ready-restored classic car and buy it. At least the cover price should represent all or most of your costs. For those who restore classic cars in their free time, the process is almost more enjoyable than the result. They LIKE working on cars, they have well-equipped workshops, and they’ve got all-round skills that cover almost everything from engines to bodywork repairs. If this isn’t you, think twice about tackling a project in which you might get things badly wrong.

4. Compare Your Budget to the Projected Cost

Car Restoration

When you assessed the vehicle you are considering buying to restore, you should have been able to identify some of the things you need to do before the classic is ready to roll again. When it comes to the things you don’t know or can’t be sure of, it’s safest to assume that there’ll be more to restoring the classic than meets the eye. Assess your costs with worst-case scenarios in mind, add 30 percent just in case, and compare the total to the amount you want to budget for the task.

5. Schedule the Process Realistically

Just about every garage, workshop, or storeroom in most people’s homes contains things that they think they might repair sometime. But “sometime” isn’t a commitment, and it’s inevitable that those items end up just taking up space before being consigned to the tip. A classic car to restore is not something you want standing around for years. Before making the final commitment, work out a rough schedule consisting of all the tasks you expect to do, the time you think they’ll take, and the timeline on which it will occur. Add a comfortable margin. Restoring classics can take a lot longer than even the well-informed would expect. Now decide if you really want to commit all this time to your project. If you still do, then you’re ready to make that purchase and embark on your car restoration journey.

6. Assemble a Support-System

Just about every make and model of classic car has its enthusiasts and adherents. Getting in touch with them is going to make your whole project much easier besides giving you a circle of like-minded people who will be willing to help and advise you. It’s also great having a network where you can share your successes with people who will be as enthusiastic as you are. Keep yourself motivated and avoid the pitfalls of going it alone by joining clubs and online forums where you’ll get the support you need.

The Journey is Just Beginning

Admittedly, you haven’t even touched your classic car yet. The real work is about to begin. But having done your 6 preparatory steps, you’re in a far better position to succeed than you would have been if you’d just dived in without thinking the project through. You know what you’re committing to, how much it will cost, and how long you think it will take, and you’ve found people who will give you information, advice and support. With lots of hard work and a little bit of luck, you’ll soon be cruising the roads in your restored classic.

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John Miller

John Miller is a cars enthusiast who loves writing anything related to automobiles. He is a passionate blogger writing for innovatecar.com and other auto blogs