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Wilson's Auto Restoration Blog

5 Suggestions to Consider Before Restoring a Classic Car


It is easy to see the allure of owning and restoring a classic car back to its original glory. It is a bond between human and machine that can only be understood if you are an enthusiast yourself.

There are however some really important things to think about before you and your classic car set of into the sunset together. A classic car restoration will take a lot of time, sweat, tears and money. In reality you will end up spending thousands of dollars to get the restoration done right. As a matter of fact it is common to put more money into a restoration then you may ever get back out if you sell.

Therefore we have five suggestions, or warnings depending on your perception, that you may want to consider before buying a classic car to restore.

1. Choose a car you love and will likely never sell
This decision may very well be the first and last classic car you ever purchase. Make sure you have a special place in your heart for the make and model you are considering. Did you dream of this car as a child? Did you see one somewhere as a young adult and instantly fall in love? These are both great reasons to choose a classic car or truck. This type of decision, resale price doesn’t matter… this car has found its forever home.

If you do not have that immediate feeling for a car and still want to purchase one then do yourself a favor and do a lot of research to see which models are more valuable once they’ve undergone restoration. Chances are you will sell it down the road if you aren’t attached to the car, so at least try to make a few bucks out of the deal while you enjoy ownership.

2. Run away from rust
We aren’t talking about a little surface rust. In fact we have a lot of articles that can help you get rid of rust and keep it from coming back. The rust you need to run from is the type that has eaten through a body panel, floor board, chassis or any other part of the vehicle. Repairing rust can become extremely expensive, extremely quick. If you cannot buy aftermarket panels or parts then you would need to fabricate new ones which takes a lot of time and money to complete. Make sure you thoroughly inspect the vehicle for any signs of severe corrosion.

3. Research replacement parts
Before you buy a classic car or truck for restoration you should certainly research to see how available parts are for it and if they are really pricey. If you buy a car that parts are not readily available, it can bring your restoration project to a stand still. Some parts might even be impossible to get your hands on. Things are slowly changing in this department with the use of 3D printing to make classic car parts. However, until this technology becomes more mainstream, even 3D printing might not be cost effective for replacing parts.

4. Only buy a car that starts
Trust us on this one. This mistake has been made time and time again. Unless you really know what you are doing and are fine with replacing the entire motor and drivetrain, only buy a vehicle if it will fire up. A car that is a “barn find” may have been sitting for years in the elements. Who knows if the seals are shot or even worse the entire engine has seized up. If you find a car that starts on the other hand, at least you will have a better idea of what you are up against mechanically during your restoration.

5. Get a professional inspection
Even if you are an expert yourself it is always a good idea to have a second set of expert eyes look over any vehicle you are considering to purchase. We have yet another article that goes into detail about getting a professional classic car inspection. In this day and age hustlers have gotten really good at creating imposters. It can often take a true expert to spot the differences between the real-deal and a phony. Even if everything is legit on the car it is always advised to get a second opinion by a professional.

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