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Car Restoration Guide

Updated on September 7, 2014

Love, Passion And Car Restoration

There is a love affair going on. It is a love/hate relationship that can be frustrating and time consuming.

What is this love affair that some people have?

It is with their cars. This is especially true if a person owns an older model of a car. Time takes its toll on everything mechanical and all the love and waxing in the world cannot make your antique car stay in perfect shape. Sure, you can keep it in a garage away from the elements.

You can buff, shine, wax and wash all you want but eventually you will want to take it out. Original car parts that came with the car will fail. You will eventually have to face a car restoration project.

Restoring a car can be challenging but for those who truly enjoy the project, it is well worth the bruised knuckles and expenses. If you are curious about car restoration, you need to read this lens.

What is car restoration?
What is car restoration?

What is car restoration?

In simple terms, car restoration is the process of returning the car back to its original condition.

In not so simple terms, it means removing and replacing parts and components of the car that have suffered the ravages of time, restoring lost performance and reliability.

Often this will also include the replacement of non-stock parts that have been used for repairs over the years.

A typical car restoration will involve all aspects of the car: the engine and drive train, the interior, and the exterior.

1932 buick restored
1932 buick restored

Why would someone want to restore their car to its original model?

There may be dozens of reasons a person may wish to restore an older car, but the predominant reason would have to be nostalgia.

An attempt to return to one's youth or memories of times well spent, either are (and have been) reasons that vehicles ready for retirement are being brought back into service today.

Additionally, these renewed cars are often displayed at car shows, allowing other enthusiasts and collectors to marvel at its rebirth.

How much cost is involved in car restoration?

More than you would expect.

But that depends on resources available to the restorer and the amount of repair that is required. If the restorer has to purchase all original parts, it can cost more to restore an older car than what was paid for the car new.

Occasionally, "donor" cars are found at a reasonable price, effectively merging the serviceable parts of both vehicles. Rarer vehicles can drive this price up even further, as spare parts are no longer available.

Can I restore my car myself?

If you have all the skills needed, sure.

But it is rare for an individual to master that many skills. A restoration may involve any of the following: engine rebuilding, electrical wiring, body work, paint, fabrication, upholstery and carpet work.

The good news is that many of these trades are available and work independently of each other. If you are comfortable working within one area, outsourcing other work is perfectly acceptable.

Should I use original parts for my car restoration project?

When possible, yes.

Many manufacturers still carry replacement parts for older models, and some companies have even started to recreate Original Equipment Manufacturer parts for popular models.

Unfortunately, the time may come when there are no replacement parts available for your vehicle. In that case, the only options available are to find serviceable used parts, or have new ones fabricated.

Used parts can be cleaned and inspected to insure proper fit and function, and can often be had for far less than the cost of having specialized components custom made.

What if I cannot find original parts near me?

In the event that your local dealership or auto parts store cannot locate the parts you need, don't fret.

There are numerous sources for parts right at your fingertips: the internet. A number of auto salvage companies belong to nationwide part search services.

Just enter the year and model of your vehicle and tell them what part you are looking for. If they don't have it, odds are good that someone, somewhere probably does.

In the event that no suppliers are found, other sources to try include online auctions and electronic classified ads.

Why might I choose to have a professional perform the car restoration?

The choice to have a professional handle the entire car restoration has many benefits: a dedicated shop and skilled employees, working ties with other trades and knowledge of their craftsmanship, sources for hard to find parts and probably the most important items: time and experience.

A professional restoration shop will be able to determine the amount of time required to finish the job and set a time table for its completion.

They get the hassles, they get the headaches. In return, they decide what the cost of your restoration project will be.

Are there websites to help me restore my car?

A quick check of an internet search engine will reveal numerous entries on the subject.

Everything from general knowledge to step by step procedures can be found. Additionally, specialized groups or forums exist for many models, allowing a convenient location for the exchange of information specific to your vehicle.

Many of these groups have been in existence for many years, and have accumulated an amazing mass of knowledge.

Odds are good that someone has asked the question you need answered, and the individuals that answered it are probably still around to refine the answer.

Will my car increase in value after my car restoration project?

In most circumstances, a car will be worth more after restoration than before.

Vehicle pricing guides usually take into consider the condition of the car, and award higher values based upon the condition. But value is in the mind of the beholder.

Where a guide may price a vehicle as worth so much, an enthusiast or collector may assign a value much higher. Additionally, the choice of materials and workmanship of the restoration may add or detract from the car's value.

The use of all original parts and matching original paint scheme tends to be the choice of most collectors, and imparts the highest value.

What do I need to think about before I begin a car restoration project?

A number of questions need to be answered (or at least seriously considered) prior to committing oneself to a restoration project.

Where will the project be done at?

How long will it take to finish?

What will the final cost be?

These are the predominant questions one should ask. The home garage may be an acceptable location, if you have access to the required tools and equipment needed to complete the task.

When considering time, remember that unforeseen issues have a way of halting progress for a while. Costs should be researched ahead of time and budgeted prior to beginning.

Please place your comments and suggestions below so that you can help others restore the love of their life. that being a car of course.

Have You Ever Done A Car Restoration? - If you have we would really like to hear from you.

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    • webcat profile image

      Ron 4 years ago from Australia

      @Rangoon House: Hi that's not a problem glad you found it useful and thanks for the like.

    • Rangoon House profile image

      AJ 4 years ago from Australia

      We are at the crossroads of choosing a restoration of a beloved car or moving it on to somebody else to do. Thank you for your advice.