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How to articles; classic car restoration

How to know when a classic car is restorable.

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...point out common problems and how to spot them. These may not be problems for you however.

There are two extremes and many levels in between when describing the type of person who would restore an old car. An old car can be considered restorable to one person because they have plenty of tools, experience and shop space. Another person wouldn't even consider picking up the tools, but would be willing to pay someone else to do most of the work. For the second individual this could be at great expense if the car were not in excellent condition to begin with. In each case however, they love old classic cars and a classic car restoration is one of their passions.

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Classic car rating system

Let's establish a rating system for both the condition of a prospective restorable old car and your level of restoration savvy. This rating system will provide the guidelines we will follow through this adventure.

The first thing to understand is yourself and what approach to restoring an old car you are best suited for. Once you establish that, you should be looking for an old car that has restoration requirements that fit your rating. Understand that these are not finite levels, there can be some crossover between them and only you will know what defines each level for yourself. For example, one person may be very good at sheet metal work and capable of tackling things like floor pan or quarter panel replacements, but have no patience for things like bodywork, block sanding and painting. Still another person may not have the skills or desire to do either of these, but will tear into an interior upholstery job like an experienced craftsman.

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We'll start with 5.

5 Almost any classic car is restorable to this person. This person has a fully equipped shop or garage with air tools, sandblaster, hand tools and maybe even a selection of machine tools. This person can handle replacing body panels, complete disassembly of a car and cataloging of parts, welding, bodywork, block sanding and even painting although without a spray booth. For a top notch paint job this person may still prefer a professional to paint the exterior of his/her car. He/she is not afraid of interior work, but may not be great at it. This person likey works in an automotive trade and is not afraid of dirt, or a rusted out classic car. A frame off restoration is a regular occurance.

4 This person is equipped with a garage with a bit more of a focused tool collection, probably with a preference for mechanical and sheet metal or assembly/disassembly work. This person can also strip a classic car to nothing, catalog the parts, and is willing to research the availability of the parts he/she needs.This person likey works in the automotive trade too. This person may not be likey to do bodywork, block sanding and painting, or interior work. This person would likely send the car or parts out for major jobs like sandblasting.

3 This person is not much interested in doing frame off restorations. This person wants a classic car that is in good condition, likely still in drivable condition. Mechanical work is no big deal but this person is likely to send the car out for sheet metal work, body work and painting and is not likely to do any interior work either. He/she may strip the interior out and send it out to get redone and then reinstall it when it came back. This person's garage may have a compressor, but it is primarily for impact tools.

2 This person likes the cleaner side of classic car restorations, and is not likely to buy a car that needs anything more than a paint job, some trim replaced, minor mechanical, and having the interior refinished. This person may be good at reupholstering classic car interiors since this is part of the restoration where they won't get grimy in the process. They like the creative fulfillment they get from doing a custom interior.

1 This person would only buy a classic car that is near excellent condition. It might need some interior work, a paint job or some trim replaced or buffed. This person would send everything out to get someone ele to do the work so it makes sense that he/she start with a car that is in near ideal condition. This is the person you would see waxing and polishing his/her old ride in the driveway on a bright sunny day. This person is likely not in the automotive trade and has a good paying career that provides some disposable income.

There are tradeoffs of time and money for each of these levels as well.

A person at level 5 would be willing to invest considerable amounts of time and energy in the restoration process, they get a good feeling of a job well done by doing the work themselves and often have the admiration of many of their friends for doing so. That is, If they have the time for friends other than those they work with. An automotive restoration can be time consuming at this level, but not as costly in financial terms as being at level one.

Someone at level 1 on the other hand does not have as much time on their hands to invest in the restoration process, but they have the money to pay someone else to do the restoration work. This might be a person with a professional degree of some kind, they know where their money comes from, and they need to keep it coming in. Anyone in the classic car restoration business loves to have this person as a customer.

These days there seem to be more level one people than there are level 5 people. Just look at the restoration parts market. New parts are being sold everywhere so we know ...Next page

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