Classic Car Restoration: Where to Start

Classic Car Restoration Hoods Open

Restoring a classic car is a labor of love that will bring years of enjoyment to you and your family. If you are a classic car restoration rookie, you may be wondering where to start. When tackling such a large (and important) project, the best place to start is with a plan. The average classic car restoration takes about 1,000 hours to complete. But don’t let that scare you away. Let’s point you in the right direction to make sure your first project is a success.

First, decide on a goal. Then, create a plan that makes sense for your timeline and budget. And then it’s time to follow through and get down to work. We outlined some questions you can ask yourself while determining your plan.

What Are Your Restoration Goals?

The best way to start your restoration plan is to think about the end result. You need to ask yourself some questions before you can get started:

What do you want to do with your car? Do you want it for cruising in the warm weather or for car shows and community events?

The answer to this question will help you prioritize your restoration tasks. If you plan on driving the car, you need to make sure the vehicle is sound and structurally stable first. You’ll want to work on the mechanics before you take care of the cosmetic exterior and interior details.

What type of restoration do you want to do?

Are you a traditionalist who wants your car to have original factory parts or are you more of a resto-mod kind of enthusiast who wants your car to be unique to you? Purists recommend taking your car back to the condition she was in when she rolled off the assembly line. Others believe that you should restore the car to meet your own personality quirks.

The answer to this question will help you determine where to best spend your budget.

Do you have the right car?

One of the most difficult parts of car renovation is finding the right car. We recommend starting with local classified ads. Online sites may have more options, but you’ll also find more scams. It’s important to actually look at the car before you agree to buy it. 

Do plenty of research to find a car that can be restored while keeping your costs down. This is a major purchase. You may spend over a year restoring the car. Then, you’ll want to love the car once it’s restored. Look for a car that is solid and free of major damage and rust.

What is wrong with the vehicle?

You’ll need to evaluate and determine just what you will need to fix so you can prioritize issues when making your plan.

What Is Your Plan for Tackling the Required Tasks?

Take time to plan out your tasks that are required for restoration. Which tasks do you want to actually perform, and which ones will you take to your mechanic? Having a plan will help you know which tools you want to purchase and when. It will help you keep to your budget. If you’re serious about DIY, then you may want to invest in a class that teaches you welding or metalwork to get the best results.

In What Order Will You Tackle Tasks?

The first tasks you should complete for your restoration project include fixing mechanical issues. Cosmetic fixes may seem more exciting, but the basis of most restoration projects is typically making the vehicle operational. That’s not to say that cosmetic features aren’t important, but you could easily mar the interior surfaces by scratching them or getting oil on them while you’re taking care of the mechanical issues.

Experts disagree on what order to complete the cosmetic touches. Some believe that paint and the exterior should be last, because you want to avoid scratches and scuffs to a paint job while you’re completing the interior. On the other hand, the interior upholstery and equipment can be damaged by paint drops and splatter.

At Legendary Auto Interiors, we believe that the interior of your car should be the last step on your classic car renovation because you will spend more time in the interior of the car while using it than you will simply looking at it. By waiting until the exterior of the car is finished, you protect the interior from dirt and grime.

How Will You Watch Your Budget?

The one thing that you do need be aware of during your classic car restoration is your budget. You don’t want to get to the final details and not be able to finish your car to your standards due to budgetary issues. Do yourself a favor before you start and set a budget for each part of your restoration, and also be sure to budget out some money for issues that you don’t foresee.

Have More Questions?

Restoring a classic car can take more time and effort than you realize, so it’s crucial to take your time to plan how you’ll handle your restoration before you begin. In the long run, it will save you time and money.

Legendary Auto Interiors has been in the business of classic car interiors for over 30 years. Shop today for the parts you need to make your classic car restoration complete.

Further Reading

Classic Car Restoration How-to: Your Step-by-Step Guide to Vehicle Disassembly.

Posted on February 27, 2019. Categorized as .
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