Your 8-Step Guide to Restoring a Classic Vehicle
Many people fantasize about owning an iconic classic vehicle and restoring it to its earlier glory. Whatever your reason for restoring a classic car, the idea can be both romantic and exciting. But there are essential factors to consider when picking out the vehicle you’ll spend thousands of bucks on and hundreds of hours restoring. If you’re thorough, the project may bring you immense satisfaction.
On the other hand, carelessness can lead to crushing disappointment and wasted money.
1. Carefully Plan Your Vehicle Restoration Project
Of course, restoring a classic vehicle is one of the most exciting things you can do, but there are various steps you must take before you go for it. As with any good venture, careful planning and consideration will be vital for success, but you can’t prepare too much before getting started.
Here are some questions to ask yourself before getting started:
How much are you going to spend? Have you taken into account the total cost of tools, parts, and the original car?
How much time will you devote to the vehicle every week? Might the projected clash with any work, family, or personal commitments?
Have you got the necessary expertise and experience to successfully complete the restoration?
How much space do you need to finish the whole restoration at home? Also, will you have adequate space afterwards for storing the classic car during winter?
2. Find the Ideal Car
You probably know the kind of car you want to restore. You even have the precise model, make, and year figured out. However, don’t get too specific just yet.
While rebuilding a car you love is the real labour of love, you shouldn’t get too attached emotionally before you find and buy the right vehicle. Falling for one specific car can result in making a hasty decision on a vehicle that might not be in the greatest shape. Keep an open mind when buying a car and buy one based on its merits and condition.
3. Inspect the Car Thoroughly
Before you begin ordering parts, you need to first assess the classic vehicle you’re working with. Will it require lots of your time and effort or is it in pretty good condition? Once you’ve answered these questions, you’ll be able to understand how extensive and costly this restoration project will be.
To kick off the inspection, you should check out the exterior. Look for any structural damage, like scratches and dents. Also, check for rust. If it’s too much, you may need to renovate the whole chassis. You should address these key exterior problems before you think about the less serious cosmetic issues.
When you’ve finished a visual inspection, try out the classic vehicle to find out if it’s operational. Try out the transmission, pay attention to the engine, and test out all the interior features. If you identify any issues during this inspection, write them down. Plan these repairs starting with the most urgent to the least urgent.
4. Prepare Your Tools and Garage
Unless you have your own garage, you may not have all the tools required to completely restore a classic vehicle. Thankfully, you should already have worked out the total cost of tools.
Once you’ve got your plan, space, car, and tools, you’re ready to begin and restore your classic vehicle to its former glory.
5. List the Parts Needed
To ensure that this process never gets confusing, create a list of the parts needed. This will make it easier to track what you need and you can budget properly.
Along with listing the names of the parts you need on a spreadsheet, including the manufacturer you’d prefer to buy from, as well as the possible costs you’ll need to pay. Then, each time you buy and install a part, you can cross it off the list.
Then you can refer to this spreadsheet any time to check how your restoration project is going and to work out how much you’ve already spent on the project.
6. Hire a Professional
Even if you’ve dealt with classic cars before, there’ll be steps during restoration that are just beyond your knowledge. In that case, you should hire a professional. Of course, you’ll need to pay for the service, but you’ll at least know that part restorations and repairs are done properly the first time.
However, don’t just hire any vehicle mechanic. Ideally, they must have loads of experience with your classic car. This specialist should have more expertise and experience to fall back on compared to a general car mechanic. Therefore, your classic vehicle will be in safe hands and you run no risk of costly damage happening.
After hiring the right auto mechanic, tell them your plans for the vehicle. More specifically, tell them what you’re going to use the car for. Maybe you just want it to look good, or you want to update it so you can increase its performance. Your car mechanic can use these ideas to create more solid plans that’ll help your dream become a reality.
7. Decide on the Kind of Restoration
Once you’ve got your dream classic car, do you want to restore it to its original look or do you have a style you want to try? Purists recommend returning your car to how it looked when it left the showroom. Others recommend that you renovate the vehicle to suit your own personality traits.
8. Perform the Last Inspection
After pouring your blood, sweat, and tears into this project, you still must carry out a final inspection. This will ensure that all stages were finished properly, from how parts were fitted to how your overall vision was implemented.
Having your classic vehicle professionally checked also helps you detect any lingering problems. You may have missed something that someone else can help you see before you risk incurring damage and getting injured.
The Bottom Line
When restoring a classic car, don’t rush the job. You’ve been fantasizing about this car, perhaps for a good deal of time. Make sure to approach the restoration carefully and, with a bit of planning, you’ll get the gleaming new ride you’ve been dreaming of.