Whether you’re looking to relive the past or simply appreciate a classic in the modern day, restoring the right vehicle is no easy task and you should really consider the amount you’re willing to dedicate to your project before you jump right in…
Restoring a retro ride is no small task and involves varying degrees of difficulty depending on the situation. Your best approach is to take into consideration a number of factors that will contribute to the bottom line costs before you decide to pull from the piggybank and embark on the long road of automotive redemption. Below, we’ve provided a list of suggestions to look out for when looking to start this journey.
First and foremost, you should consider the how much you’re willing to invest in a project, both financially and with respect to your time. In the beginning of your search, you need to have these details accounted for otherwise you risk getting involved in a project that could drains your ambition as well as your wallet. Starting out, here are some of the things you should keep in mind
- Seems obvious, but buy it because you want it. Sure, classic cars can be a great investment but don’t rush to purchase something just because of an opportunity. Sometimes your investment works out but conversely sometimes you’re left with a project that taxes your pockets and your interest.
- In the age of information, use the tools at your fingertips. Nowadays with the internet and all of the easily accessible historical values and comparables buyers can be armed the most accurate assessment of the vehicle’s value before getting behind the wheel.
Once you decide on the type of restoration that you’re looking to undertake things get a little more granular and you should begin evaluating things that relate specifically to the vehicle you’re seeking out:
- Run away from rust – unless you’re looking for a major project.
- Consider the color. Much like modern day cars, color can play a large part in the value of the vehicle.
- Quality over quantity. A big portion of value in a vehicle can result from the number of models produced by the manufacturer.
- Mileage makes a difference. Sure, that when considering a car with decades of experience it would seem like mileage doesn’t matter but in reality the amount of wear and tear can be used as a good gauge for bargaining and reflecting on the work you’re willing to put in.
- Consider the context. Installed options can play a big part of the value on a particular vehicle.
- Check the vehicle identification numbers. Matching these codes make a substantial difference with regards the overall value of the vehicle
Additionally, it’s worth pointing out that muscle cars will always have a pretty active market and big blocks generally bring big bucks. And while vehicles from the 1980s might not be at the very top of your dream project list, they have been slowly increasing in value – these intrinsic time capsules may not be the most attractive platforms over the decades but they’ll no doubt be established as a part of vehicle history as time wears on.
Now that you’ve carefully curated your choices and gauged the amount of work you’ll need to undertake in order to get your ride roaring again, it’s time to begin mapping out your project. Everyone’s process and practices vary but below is the suggested industry standard for how to attack this project.
- Step 1 – Review & Disassembly
After a long, painstaking search you’ve finally decided on your ride. Now comes the exciting but possibly nerve-wrecking part – the review. Hopefully prior to acquiring your car you’ve taken the very best measures to get a thorough review of your challenges ahead of time. That being said, even with the most thorough approach unexpected issues tend to pop up sooner or later. This is why the review is the first and most important step in any restoration project. If you’re undertaking a small restoration, you might want to limit your disassembly to only those parts you feel comfortable removing and reinstalling. If you’re getting involved in a large project, this step will include carefully taking piece by piece off the chassis and logging exactly what needs to be addressed and how.
- Step 2 – Components
Over the years, parts of vehicles succumb to general wear and tear. In a perfect world all owners would make the utmost effort to repair or reinforce these instances but unfortunately that rarely tends to be the case. Once the vehicle as been disassembled and carefully reviewed, it’s important to look for these weaknesses in component pieces which includes things like latches, levers, and tabs. Any parts that contribute to the structural integrity of the vehicle should be improved or addressed prior to any major further investment is made.
- Step 3 – Paint RemovalIf this is a major project that includes a complete respray, this is where you painstakingly remove the old coat in preparation for the facelift. This step is only attributed to those who are probably rebuilding from the ground up.
- Step 4 – Metal Fabrication
Let’s face it, we might not stand up quite as straight as we did when we were 18 and our classic rides have a tendency to follow suit. Consequently, we might need to reshape or reinforce our rides from things like corrosion, cracks or maybe just a couple of door dings.
- Step 5 – Trim
This step includes evaluating and reinstalling any structural components that might need to be added to the project. These should be included once we’ve straightened and aligned the body and just before we schedule time in the paint booth.
- Step 6 – Paint Application
Here’s where many believe the project really starts to come back to form, when we add the new colorful character that’ll bring the vehicles personality back to life. There are several steps in this process that any good technician understands but for our purposes here, we’ll keep the detail general.
- Step 7 – Assembly
Now that you’ve got all of the pieces to the puzzle, it’s time to start reconstructing the dream. Care and caution should be stressed here considering the amount of detailed work that’s gone into getting to this point of the process. It’s important to have a blueprint of how to install each of your parts so that there’s minimal redundancy or doubling back based on oversight.
- Step 8 – Upholstery
Optimally, you’ll have already made your decision on upholstery when you decided what color you were going to respray your vehicle. Now that the exterior shell has come together, its time to start reconstructing the refined interior based on your preferences. This step includes the interior pieces such as seating, ceiling (headliner), and sound system.
- Step 9 – Refinement
Whether you replaced or retuned the motor, redesigned the interior, or just renewed the spirit of the vehicle itself, once you’ve finished the past 8 steps it’s time to go over your hard work with a fine tooth comb to make any last tweaks that might be necessary. You’ve invested a lot in getting got this point so there’s no reason to let it be ruined by minor rattles.
- Step 10 – Enjoyment
This could be called the rebirth step. This is the point that builders and restorers dream about. That moment when the fresh wheels hit the open road and allow you to celebrate your dedication and hard work that earned you this opportunity.
You probably knew this before reading this blog post, but restoring a proper classic is no easy task. It’s not for the faint of heart, and isn’t appreciated but those who like to cut corners. It’s a painstaking process that’s rewarding from beginning to end. There’s nothing quite like that first time those wheels are rolled out of the garage and onto the open road, just don’t forget the radio…