10 Things You Should Know Before Restoring a Vintage Car

Posted by: Dan on 21/09/2016

Category: General


When it comes to pop culture there are certain mainstays that endure from one generation to the next. Sunglasses are stylish, a black tuxedo is sleek, and a vintage car is always going to have a huge cool factor surrounding it.

But just like replacing a pair of designer shades is no fun – and a good tuxedo is an expensive purchase for those who want one to last a lifetime, a vintage car may be incredibly cool – but it also requires a lot of work.

Some prior knowledge before starting down the road to restoration is essential, so here are 10 things you need know at the outset before restoring a vintage car.

1. It should not be done on a whim

You may see a car with a “For Sale” sign in the window, or you may even have a friend offering to sell you a car that needs “a bit of work.” If an event like this inspires you to fix up a vintage vehicle, it is usually best to take pause and think about what you really want. First, consider what make and model of classic car you really wish to restore, and then go find one to work on.

2. It will be expensive

There’s a reason you don’t hear Bill Gates talking about all the money he made restoring vintage cars. Parts are typically more expensive, mechanics charge more for their expertise in fixing a vintage ride, and the age of the car often means it's more likely to break down and need a second round of parts to properly fix an issue. Be sure you budget accordingly.

3. It will take a lot of time

It might seem easy while at the car yard to reserve a couple of month’s worth of weekends in your mind and then PRESTO! – new classic car restored and ready for you. In reality though, a vintage car restoration is likely to be a big drain on your time.

This is all the more true since, even when you’re not working on the car, you’ll be thinking about where you left off with the latest problem or challenge. Even when you finish it, you may not be done. A recent survey showed that owners of vintage 50s and 60s cars were 220% more likely to have worked on their cars over the past three months as compared to owners of more recent models.

4. It will require planning

When it comes to a vintage vehicle restoration, you need to recognize that the time required also requires much planning. Given some tasks will require you to put on your old work clothes and get covered in oil – or spent a couple of hours online searching for that obscure answer you need – any notion that you’ll be able to easily chip away at the restoration with just 15 minutes a day before work needs be dispelled now. Instead, acknowledge that you’ll need to plan for entire evenings and weekends to be set aside for the task.

5. It won’t be easy

There’s a reason expert mechanics charge a pretty penny for restoring a vintage vehicle. Whether you do the work exclusively by yourself, or share some of the load with your local mechanic, there will definitely be times when you’ll get really peeved about the frustration and lack of progress.

6. Unless they’re experts, friends will be of little help

Speaking of assistance, unless you start out with a mindset of restoring the vehicle with a partner (think your brother, best friend, or your spouse), you’re unlikely to find friends to be of any help. No matter how well-meaning they might be, unless your buddy from high school is an expert mechanic, you’ll likely find his advice pretty unhelpful. “Hey man, have you tried taking out the CD player?” won’t help when ‘69 American classics were not exactly renowned for their stereo systems.

7.  You’ll want to give up

You may have first laid eyes on the handsome car on a tree-lined street on a sunny day, but when you’ve got to work the next morning and you’re stuck toiling away in your garage at 3 a.m., you’ll be pretty close to calling it quits. This is only natural, and vintage enthusiasts drive on; but be sure you’re aware from the start that restoration won’t all be rainbows and sunshine.

8.   Your partner and family will ask you to give up

It won’t just be you who is frustrated by that 3 a.m. work session. Your spouse will be asking you to come and sleep – but only after you’ve showered all that oil off – and your teenager has already sent you three angry texts saying they can’t sleep because of that annoying ratchet tool you’re using. Make sure you have the support of your family if you decide to restore a vehicle.

9. There won’t be much resale value

If you’re looking at a vintage vehicle restoration with the idea of taking a $1000 junkyard dweller and reselling it for $100,000, think again. The odds of finding a rare Ferrari or Lamborghini that simply needs a new coat of paint are slim to none. The reality is, expensive vintage vehicles are usually sourced through dealerships and established sellers. This means that restoring a car for your own pleasure rather than profit is the wisest path.

10. You’ll still do it anyway

Just like building your own home or a cubby house for your son or daughter, restoring a vintage car is not meant to be solely about time or money. It’s also about the pride and enjoyment of completing something yourself.

Sure, you could’ve just bought an already-restored classic car, but you also could’ve just stayed inside on the couch on weekends instead of working away in the garage. So, while planning, preparation (and understanding from your family members and friends) is essential, if you have a dream of restoring a vintage car, be sure you go ahead and pursue it – it's always worthwhile in the end.

What has your experience been like restoring a vintage car? Let us know in the comments below:

Image: Pixabay