Classic Car Restoration 101

Aside from the sense of pride and accomplishment that comes from restoring a classic car, the vehicle becomes the center of attention when out on the road and often the subject of many conversations. There are a number of things to take into consideration before starting a car restoration project. At first glance, it may seem that the cost, the time, and even the effort are too much to take on. However, by researching and planning in advance a person has a clear picture of what lies ahead and how things are going to unfold.
Finding a Classic Car
The first step in classic car restoration is finding a vehicle to work on. While there are all sorts of vehicles available, in a variety of conditions, it is important that a person choose one that holds some type of special interest. Many may want to own a classic racecar, but reality suggests this is not always going to be the case. Instead look for something special. Remember that hours are going to be spent on this project.
Getting Started
In preparation for a classic car project, a person needs make sure he or she has all the necessities and has allotted enough time to complete the project. This includes making sure there is enough space for this process. Multiple parts will need to be removed to start the rebuilding process. In most cases, a worker will lay them out to ensure that they are all accounted for and to help him or her remember what goes with what part of the car. This is going to take some considerable space. Also, it is necessary to have a space to actually work. A garage or workshop needs to have plenty of room.
In addition to the car and all of the parts, restoration requires certain tools. Some can be found in just about any person’s garage while others will be more specific and possible tougher to find. If classic car restoration is not going to be a full time profession or hobby, it might be a good idea to purchase or rent the specific tools as needed.
Restoration of a classic car means investing a considerable amount of money in the process. Estimate the entire cost before starting the project. Here, people that have been through the experience before can be helpful. Also, remember that regardless of the estimate, most of the time, the restoration costs more. Cost tends to depend on the starting condition of the car and the amount of work that a person does on his or her own. In some cases, it may be necessary to take the vehicle to a professional.
Just like money, plan to spend considerable time on the restoration. For some, the project can take several years while others complete their vehicles in much less time. Again, it depends on the condition of the vehicle and the amount of time a person spends each day or week on the work. Remember that aside from the actual work, it takes time to learn new techniques and it also takes time to correct any mistakes that are made along the way.
Original vs. Personalized
Should the classic car be restored to its original specifications? Different car enthusiasts answer this question differently. In reality, this is completely up to the person in charge of the restoration. Some will take pride in painting the vehicle the same color and making sure that the interior looks just like it did when it was driven out of the showroom. These vehicles will have the most monetary value. However, if the classic car is going to be used regularly, a person can make customizations to personalize the drive.
While classic car restoration is time consuming, costly and often frustrating, it is a challenge that enthusiasts take on day in and day out. The challenge keeps people interested and the pride that comes with the final results is unmatched.
Classic Car Restoration 101 Links

  • Exemptions for Classic Vehicles – Based on a vehicle’s age, there are certain exceptions to requirements from the EPA, the DOT, and U.S. Customs.
  • Restoring A Mustang for the 50th Anniversary – April 2014 marks the 50th anniversary of the Ford Mustang. This article talks about the process as well as how to find genuine Ford restoration parts.
  • A Classic Doesn’t Have to be Expensive – Article offers tips for finding an affordable classic car to start working on.
  • Classic Automobile Restoration – This student’s thesis offers an explanation of how classic car restoration and modern technology are coming together. (PDF)
  • Ethanol in Classic Cars – A transcript of a video by MotorWeek on using ethanol in older, classic vehicles.
  • Classic American Cars in Sweden – An article to explain the American classic car craze currently taking place in Sweden.
  • Giving Life Back to Classic Cars – The USMC takes a look at the classic car restoration process.
  • WMG Classic Car Research – Local researchers look into ways that lasers can be used in the process of restoring classic vehicles.
  • Old Car Manuals – This collection of brochures and manuals from classic cars can be a huge help to someone going through the restoration process.
  • Bring Back Shop Class – The Collectors Foundation takes a look at shop class and how it can benefit a new generation of students. The site also contains newsletter information that details specific examples of restoration and personal stories.
  • Investing in Classic Cars – AARP details how classic cars can bring in a good return on the owner’s initial investment.
  • Classy is in Session – This article talks about the UVU Auto Expo and some of the classic cars that are found there.
  • Restoration on Chasing Classic Cars – Find out more about one specific car restoration project that was featured on the TV show Chasing Classic Cars.
  • Comparing Classic and Modern Cars – This article discusses the differences between classic cars and the cars that are available for purchase today.

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