Classic Car Restoration Tips For Beginners: The Do’s and Don’ts

4 Mins read

Whichever reason you choose to restore a classic car, it’s the ultimate labour of love that requires your time, patience,expertise, and a suitable workshop or garage with the right tools needed for the job. For a classic car enthusiast, bringing a car back to life is a rewarding experience and one that could see you make profits when you opt to resell the vehicle later on.

To experience pride, joy, and accomplishment during and after your classic car restoration project, you must correctly go through the entire process. To ensure you have a good experience, avoid time-wasting and money-wasting mistakes, and get the results you want, remember these do’s and don’ts.

The Do’s

1. Choose a restoration type based on your goals.

When doing your classic car restoration project, you have four options to know your budget and what you will need the car for. These are;

Driver restoration – this type of restoration is the basic form of restoration. The enhancement done on the classic car is essential because the car is restored to make it operational again. Minor cosmetic issues are usually fixed.

If you are looking to restore your classic car to drive it again for personal use, this is the option for you. You will need to change some things in the engine and paint job too. For this level, you can also choose to buy an engine from if you are planning to drive the car daily.

Street show restoration – under this level, the classic car is restored to working conditions with major cosmetic issues fixed.

Show car restoration – on this level, it usually requires professionals’ help since your classic car needs to undergo major improvement and repair work. Once your restoration project is complete, you can display the classic car in shows and exhibitions where classic car enthusiasts usually attend. However, you won’t be able to enjoy long car drives with your vehicle.

Concour restoration – this is the most expensive type of restoration. Concour restoration is done on classic cars placed in exclusive classic car auto shows, such as concour d’ elegance and private collections. Professionals work on your vehicle, and once the restoration project is complete, you cannot enjoy the perks of driving the car.

2. Use existing parts thatcan be salvaged or repaired

When doing your classic car restoration, you don’t have to replace every aspect, even the damaged ones. By reusing the existing components, you can save some money on your project.

Although you can buy authentic reproduction parts, they are usually expensive and hard to find. If you want to save some money and time, refurbish or repair and reuse the existing components.

Some damaged parts that you can repair and clean include the windshield and trim. If you cannot restore or fix them, you can have a professional do it for you, which may still be a cost-effective solution.

3. Join the club

There’s a reason why people form such clubs because they can be helpful in so many ways. When embarking on your first restoration project, you will meet many car enthusiasts who have been through the process. Their experiences will save you a lot of time and money. Most members understand classic cars and all their weaknesses, plus it’s awesome to have a support group who understands the journey you are about to undertake.

The classic car club may as well have its stock of spares which, as a member, you will have access to. Plus, the ones they may not have, they may have the scoop of where you can get them and at affordable prices too. Your fellow club members will be an endless source of encouragement, and they will take as much pleasure from seeing one of their classic cars returned to its former glory.

The Don’ts

4. Don’t underestimate the cost.

Restoring a classic car is no cheap fete. Even if you are doing all the work yourself, the different parts and components’ price soon adds up. This won’t be an issue if you have a budget in place or do the work in stages to replenish your cash before moving on to the next step.

You should also be ready to encounter some surprises along the way. Some not so pleasant, and some may be very costly. You can, however, get a figure from any professional before you start the project to get a rough estimate, and once you get a number, add atleast 30% on top.

5. Don’t skip the mock-up.

Doing a mock-up is a crucial part of a successful classic car restoration project. The process involves gapping and pre-fitting all body panels while in basic primer or steel before doing any paint job or finishes to ensure they all fit.

Performing a mock-up may be a time-consuming process, but doing it will save you a lot of trouble throughout the entire process. If you skip this crucial step, you may end up having doors, hoods, fenders, and other sheet metal that don’t fit.

Besides, if the body parts are all painted, you may have another issueof ensuring they fit without damaging the paintwork.

6. Don’t overlook the small details.

Don’t ignore the small details like getting the right door lock button for your classic car; this will ensure that you get the desired appeal you are aiming for. It will also avoid certain inconveniences.

When striping the car down, don’t forget to label everything and also take photographs to see how different components fit and, more importantly, how the pipework and wiring loom runs along the engine bay and chassis. A handy supply of Ziploc bags to put in parts and to label them will come in handy.

This may be your first of many classic car restorations, but it will not be easy. However, we guarantee you the satisfaction you get once you roll out with a fully restored classic car from your garage will be worth all the sweat.

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