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Classic car restoration is a family affair

A classic car restoration can be a lonely hobby if your family is not behind you. They don't need to support you so much that they are in the garage working on your classic car restoration with you though.

Allow me to give you a snapshot of my background in classic car restoration. I got the bug early in life. My father was in the transmission business so I naturally got roped into R&R work at an early age, I think I was 10-12 years old when I starting helping out on weekends. My father had developed a complimentary relationship with a speed shop owner who had his own machine shop as well. There were a few others working out of the speed shop that were into restoring classic cars and that is where I got my first real exposure to the kind of work involved in a classic car restoration. I had the opportunity to watch and lend a hand to some very talented people. I later went on to vocational high school and majored in welding, resulting in a certification from the welding bureau.

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What does your wife think of classic car restoration?

For someone who is just getting started in classic car restoration, maybe later in life than I did, your spouse may think it is a departure from some of the hobby's she has come to know you for. She may even think you have lost your mind if this is your first introduction to mechanical work, and she will let you know how she feels about your new found affinity for classic car restoration without reservation. My wife is not so adverse to the idea. I was working on cars since she first met me and has become accustomed to my excitement over buying tools, besides, I fix her car too.

Remember that the classic car restoration thing can become a wedge between you and your family if they do not at least slightly share your interest. Maybe their interest is superficial, they may like to look at the classics, and point them out on the street when they see one, but they just don't want to get any grease under their nails. One of the best indicators of their support is in the things they buy you for gifts such as classic car pictures, calendars, tools, classic car models, or maybe a classic car key chain. If they are doing those things, then you know they realize classic car restoration is a key interest to you.

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Classic car restoration is not for the young.

Don't let Hollywood movies or TV lead you to think this is a kids hobby. It is a serious investment in time and money. Unless you are a recent college graduate with a high 6 figure salary, you are likely young and poor (just starting out), or middle aged and have some time, money and inclination to take on a classic car restoration. The men with the nicest cars at the classic car rally's or shows are generally in their 50's for a reason. It's taken them a long time to restore that classic car or pay someone else to do the work for them. I am a member of the Mid-Atlantic Impala Owners Association, and most of the members I've spoken to say their classic car restoration took between 5 and 10 years. A full classic car restoration will require either lots of time for someone who does a lot of the work themselves, or lots of money to get a professional to do the work.

How much time and money will it cost me?

A fair rule of thumb or guage is the cost of a new car. I don't mean a cheap fuel miser car, I mean a midsized car with all the options. If you do a lot, or all of the work yourself, you can count on spending between $15-20K over the course of 5-10 years. If you have never seen a wrench before and and can't turn a screwdriver without gouging your work with the tip, and you need to get a professional to do the work, you can expect to pay between $40-50k for a top notch restoration job. If you have to pay a professional to do most of the work you can forget about recovering your investment. In fact investment isn't even the correct choice of words because you will never recover the money unless you get a show car quality classic car restoration. The market forces for the classic car restoration industry do not support recovering your money. in general, you might recover half of the money you have tied up in the classic car. If you garage the classic car for 20 years after the restoration, you might get close to breaking even due to appreciation, but it is still not an investment. Your house will appreciate more than your classic car will.

How can I get the family involved?

The best way to get the support of your family is by taking them to the classic car events. There are loads of swap meets, classic car hangouts such as drive in restaraunts, and free summer classic car and hot rod shows held in public parks. Winter classic car events are usually held in downtown convention centers. These would be the show car quality classic cars. The classic cars you will find in the public parks are generally owned by the enthusiasts like yourself and are a great resource to ask questions.

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