Classic Car Restoration Tips and Techniques for Beginners
We do a lot of motorcycle jobs and we do a good bit of classic car restoration work at this shop. Some customers bring in their grand-daddy's pickup truck that they want to be restored to the original look and no further and then there's the customer that wants an antique car tricked out to something that looks more like a muscle car than a car of a vintage genre'.
I get emails asking for tips and techniques for classic car restoration and I wish I had a way to lay out the process. But that's not something that I could do even if I wanted to give away all of our business secrets. The process for restoring each car is different. I can't even steer you towards the BEST and CHEAPEST antique car parts suppliers because it's a rare thing for the same catalogue to have what I need for every restoration!
You can read car guides by the dozen and still come upon unique situations that will push your limits and teach you something that you never dreamed that you would need to know! You can write all the estimates you want on how much it will cost to do a job and there's one sure bet; the cost and the time to complete your classic car restoration will exceed all estimates no matter how careful you were with the details.
The basic "HOW TO" of car restoration is to study all the photographs and pictures that you can of restored cars and pickups. Look at before and after pics and figure out "WHAT IS CAR RESTORATION" and what you can and can't do with it. Rust is rust and no matter how skilled you are in classic car restoration, you can't change rust into good metal.
Decide which vintage cars you like, the colors you like them and what extras are important to you. Make a list of everything that "NEEDS" to be fixed in order of importance.
Exterior: The Metal or Body of the Car
Engine: Does it run? Expect to replace all hoses and rubber parts.
Once you get all that taken care of, check your budget. If you still have some working capital left in your classic car restoration account you can tackle the next item on your list.
Some options might be:
Making the interior really luxurious and plush
Refurbishing the original car horn or replacing it
Rip out the car seats and replace it with some upholstery that's much nicer than any that actually came in the antique car. Sometimes leather car seats can be refinished, but if the leather's cracked replace it.
Buffing and adding new chrome hardware
Refinish any existing wooden pieces or have rotten pieces re-milled
Carpet the floorboard
The list of cool things you can do with vintage cars is endless! Once you have completed your classic car restoration, enjoy it a while and then find another antique car body and do it again! The classic car restoration business is a labor of love and once you get good at it, you will want all the tools and equipment that will keep you going and make your job easier!
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