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Wilson's Auto Restoration Blog

5 Tips You Should Follow When Choosing a Classic Car for Restoration

Restoring a classic car or truck can be one of the most rewarding experiences we know of.  Putting your time, hard work and hard-earned money into a classic car project can also be one of the most intimidating things to do as well.

By restoring a classic collector, you will create a bond between human and machine that can only be understood if you are an enthusiast yourself. It is a very important relationship and there are 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 tips, suggestions, or warnings depending on your perception, that you may want to consider before buying a classic car for a restoration project.

1. Choose a car you can fall in love with

Choose a make and model that you know you will love forever.  Maybe there is a car from your childhood that you’ve al ways dreamed of.  Maybe it is a more recent love affair.  Either way, make sure it is a vehicle that you can see yourself with for a long time.  Don’t buy a vehicle just because it seems like too good of a deal to pass up.  They never are.

2. Run away from rust

Always, always, always run from rust. Not simple surface rust, we are talking the stuff that has eaten holes in the sheet metal or is starting to. Any classic you consider buying must be looked over everywhere for rust.  Body panels, floorboards, chassis, trunk and every other part of the vehicle needs to be inspected for any signs of severe corrosion.  Repairing rust can become extremely expensive, extremely quick and is often a highly skilled task to accomplish.

3. Find replacement parts first

You aren’t putting the cart before the horse with this tip, believe us.  You definitely want to research part availability and pricing before you buy a classic car or truck for restoration. If you buy a car that parts are not readily available, it can bring your restoration project to a standstill.  Some parts might even be impossible to get your hands on.  Things are slowly changing in this arena 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

This is a great piece of advice.  Take it from someone that has learned the hard way.   Unless you are a master mechanic 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

You very well may be an expert yourself, but it is always a good idea to have a second set of expert eyes look over any vehicle you want to buy.  We have yet another article that goes into detail about getting a professional classic car inspection.  Crooks have gotten really good at creating fake classics.  It can often take a true professional to spot the differences between the real-deal and a counterfeit.  Even if everything is legit on the car it is always advised to get a second opinion.

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