Classic car restoration: five tips to get started
A classic car can easily turn into a burden for the owner. This is mostly because of the financial efforts that come with insurance, routine checks and maintenance. However even the least attractive old car can potentially turn into a gem that’s a joy to drive and show off around your city. Many owners have found this out already – no wonder the US car restoration industry is worth $1bn and keeps growing year after year.
Bear in mind, though: restoring a car is not a job for a wannabe mechanic, as it always requires some hands-on technical experience as well as dedication and a budget to invest. Yet it’s a process that’s extremely rewarding and it’s worth getting help from someone in the know in case you can’t get started alone.
So don’t let your vintage car rot in the garage – get ready for restoration and check out the following tips to give back to your rusty Chevy all the splendor it had lost.
Know your car
With the help of a friend or a mechanic, you should start by checking the state of each and every part of the vehicle, and check the trunk and engine with some strong flashlights. This way you will be able to jot down a list of all the parts that should be fixed or replaced and get a first idea of the total investment.
Decide which parts need to be replaced and which could be left as they are with no major impact. If your budget is limited and mostly want to drive your classic car regularly, you don’t want to splash on bits that won’t have any major impact on aesthetics or performance. If you’re after shows and competitions, jump to the next paragraph.
Criteria to meet
If you want to take part in a street show, you will need your car to be in full working conditions and have all major aesthetic issues resolved. If you want it to be a show car you’re likely to have to ask a professional to work on it. Finally, only the cream of the crop falls into the Concours car category. This means that you need your old car to be in decent shape already and will definitely need a professional to restore it.
Engine is king
Rust removal and shiny new parts won’t have any impact on the car’s performance, so all repairs should be done only following a complete assessment of the engine. Every serious restoration involves a dismantling of the engine and replacement of many of its part, from cylinder heads to carburetors. In some cases, it’s worth replacing the engine completely. With so much at stake, don’t be afraid to ask as many experts as possible before making your decision.
Parts, parts, parts
The right material will go a long way in helping you restore the car. From applying industrial grade adhesive on shaky bits to replacing them with like-new second-hand parts available through the local body shop, tiny details can make all the difference. Great deals can also be found online through eBay, Gumtree, craigslist and the likes. Prices can vary greatly so make sure to check out all the prices through a number of sellers before overspending on a single piece.