Many TV shows can make restoring a classic car look quick and easy. In reality, it comes with many challenges, and you are taking a financial risk by investing in one. Car restorations can require hundreds and thousands of hours of work and a high amount of money.
You’ll get the thrills of purchasing it, starting the engine, and driving it, but you’ll get the lows of unnoticed damage and potential mistakes in fixing it up. Fortunately, many have done this before you, and you can avoid the following critical mistakes to make your restoration more likely to work out.
Getting the wrong car
When looking at classic cars, the wrong car to get is usually the one that looks the worst. Unless you want to restoring an expensive challenge or having a sentimental attachment to that model, if it looks bad, avoids it. That means doing your best to avoid a car that has rust, collision damage, extreme wear and tear, and missing parts. You’ll be tempted to get a classic car in this condition because they’re usually very cheap. But you have to factor in the high expense of restoring it to know the true amount it will cost you in the end.
Selecting a classic car that’s relatively good shape will keep your budget intact and save you a lot of frustration down the line. Be sure to also take the car for a drive first to see if you like its feel. Without driving it, you can’t know if you think it’s too slow, you don’t like the smell of any other issue that bothers you too much. While it’s possible you’ll be able to modify things you don’t like; sometimes people realize they’d rather a different type of classic car. Giving it a drive will help you avoid wasting time working on something, only to realize you don’t like it that much when you start driving it.
Rebuilding your engine too early
The engine should never be rebuilt until it’s time to be put back in the vehicle. When you rebuild your engine too early in the restoration process, it’ll end up having to sit for a while. As a result, it’ll degrade in a dusty corner of your garage.
Engine rebuilds take a lot of money out of your budget. If the money you plan to use is spent early, you’ll have to do some cost-cutting in other important areas, such as the paint and the body. A simple solution you can try is to paint a used engine, put it in the vehicle, and take it out later for the rebuild.
Not investing in paint and metalwork
Most mechanical jobs can be redone with a little cash and a little time. Nonetheless, having to redo substandard bodywork can feel pretty much like starting over. Bodywork typically ends up being the most expensive part of the restoration process. While the desire to save is understandable, you shouldn’t cut corners to keep down costs. The only way you can save on bodywork and paint is by beginning with a solid car and making sure the work is properly done.
Not looking at references
There are some things you may not have enough experience or knowledge to work on yourself. Other classic car owners may just want to leave the restoration to a professional. If that’s the case, it’s essential to check the car shop’s references you do business with. You can ask previous customers if the shop performed quality work, stayed within budget, and was done on time.
If customers tell you the work wasn’t of quality, then look for another shop. Slight time and budget issues may be tolerable. When analyzing references for shops that did paint and metalwork, not only ask past customers about the quality but see if you can take a look at their cars as well. Choosing the wrong shop and getting a bad job done will end up being expensive and timely; having to find another shop to fix the mistakes.
Getting parts too early
You want to avoid stocking up on thousands of dollars’ worth of parts before you actually need them. The parts you purchase could end up being the wrong ones, go missing, or worse, get damaged. Buy your details when you know exactly what you’ll need and get them inappropriate bundles to help save on shipping and keep the project moving. If you happen to have a classic mustang, you can learn more about parts you can get for your classic vehicle at Revology Cars.
Not remembering why you started
Without a goal in mind when doing a classic car restoration, the restoration usually fails. The first goal is to, of course, have fun doing it. Enjoying the work that you’re doing will help you push through all of the inevitable frustrating issues that’ll come up.
Beyond the goal of having fun, you may also be interested in getting awards, meeting up with fellow classic car owners, or just having the pleasure of driving it around. If you forget your goals and get too caught up in budgets, problems, schedules, and other distractions, you put your restoration at risk of failure. Keep your goals in mind to stay focused on the work you’re doing.
Forgetting the sorting stage
Many cars that are billed as “restored” are usually about 50 hours of work away from being finished. A truly restored classic car is more than just looking nice and driving pretty well. You need to do frequent test-driving and list-making. On your list, you should note anything that doesn’t feel right, parts that don’t fit correctly, rattles, and other cosmetics that need attention. It’s understandable after a lot of work, you’re ready just to be done, but sorting is the difference between a decent restoration and a great restoration and may even save you from a bad one.
As you can see, the idea of restoring a classic car being easy is only an illusion. It takes time, money, and consistent effort. Keep these restoration mistakes in mind to avoid making the restoration process more stressful than it has to be.
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