When you are looking to restore a classic vehicle you must first ask yourself, ‘why am I looking at a restoration project, is it to fulfil a lifetime dream or is it to just fill time and sell it on? Do I want to spend 6 months on it or 6 years?’
For most it will be to bring a dream to life, to make something good, to own that car that was on your bedroom wall when you were a teenager. However, the sad truth is that most cars bought as project are never finished, and in some cases, never even started.
As much as your heart will rule over your head on occasions, it’s important to ensure your head is in control – luckily most of us are in the unfortunate position to have limitations on our wallets and our time, meaning sometimes the ‘big decision’ is already made for us. However, if you do end up with a project motor, make sure you’re the type of guy who finishes what he starts by following these simple tips.
Feeling the love?
Before you even view a car, you need to make a short list of motors you really want to spend a portion of your life with. If the love and passion is not really there for a car, then we can almost guarantee you’ll be better off spending your time elsewhere.
Have realistic time expectations
We have all seen TV shows where a crack team of engineers restore a car in less than three weeks, but what you don’t see are the five extra pairs of hands behind the scenes!
Restoration is part of the fun of owning a classic so take your time and enjoy it.
Have I got the skills?
Once you have found the make and model of your dreams, you now need to ask yourself the following questions before assessing your own limitations: ‘if your car has a reputation for rust, can you weld or have a friend that can? Do they have the time to help?’
One thing worth considering are evening classes for such skills. Not only will they potentially end up saving you money later down the line, you may also meet other enthusiasts in the same position as you – which is great news if you love spending time with likeminded petrolheads.
Fabrication is another issue altogether. For example, if you’re buying a car such as Mini, then parts are readily available, but for a rare Fiat you may need to make your own panels or spend many months or years finding the elusive part or worse still parts.
Electrics are another potential problem. Pre 1980 classics are pretty simple, but anything dated after that can be a real problem. Patience and some peace and quiet is the key with electrics, but again if you can’t solve it yourself it could be in for another frustrating expense.
How complete is the car?
We’ve lost count of the times people buy a restored shell and boxes of bits thinking it is a simple reassembly job, when really it’s anything but.
Those elusive bits of trim, or seats can take an age to track down, while reproduction parts are sadly never the same quality as original factory items.
To avoid getting unstuck, make sure you have a good look at the car before you buy. Take a friend with you perhaps who can again keep your head in control. If, for whatever reason, you don’t have a friend who can help you out, be sure to make a list of things to check and ask before you go.
Our blog is jam-packed full of helpful hints and tip-top tips – so if you’re unsure about starting your own restoration project or simply wish to learn a little more about the world of classic cars, be sure to check it out!