Repairing a vintage car takes patience, dedication and time to track down rare parts, but it’s also a fun, satisfying hobby. Here’s what you should know to get started.
If you’re restoring or even repairing your classic car, the process is always about authenticity.Your goal is to use original or reproduction parts and techniques that help bring your car to the point that you could travel back in time to a car dealership decades ago and sell it as newon the lot.Easy to say, but challenging to do.
1. You can hire a pro or tackle the job yourself
Who does the work? This is a question that vintage car buffs have to answer. You can check directory listings to find auto restoration shops, but if you want to save money or if authenticity to you means DIY, then you’ll have to handle the project yourself. Justbeware, a pet project to restore a vintage car can quickly consume huge amounts of your time, which isn’t always a bad thing.
2. It’s about more than the visible parts
A complete restoration doesn’t just involve the repair of what can be seen—the body, trim, chrome, wheels, and passenger compartment—but also the components that aren’t visible. These include the engine and engine compartment, trunk, frame, driveline, and all ancillary parts, such as the brakes, accessories, engine cooling system, and electrical system.Authenticity is a stern taskmaster.
3. Start by taking inventory
To understand the scope of your restoration project, you’ll need to take an inventory of what’s needed and set a budget.
Take note of everything that needs to be done—auto parts, accessories, paint, tires, wheels, panels, and doors—and any professional help needed. Add up the cost for these things and add 20-30 per cent to take account for surprises and inevitable budget overruns.
4. Tracking down a part can be quick or very long
Tracking down parts for cars no longer in production can be a tricky business. Be patient and cast a wide net.If money is no object and you want to cut to the chase, an Internet search will likely turn up the required part, all professionally restored and ready for installation.
5. It can require a lot of specialized knowledge
If you know what you’re doing, you can search for cheap parts in junkyards, including some specialty ones. Otherwise you are going to have to educate yourself. Check out online forums discussing your make, model and year. Go to trade shows and swap meets. Talk to wrecking services. Join a car club and subscribe to classic car magazines.
6. Collaboration can be a time-saving plus
Repairing and restoring a vintage car can be a time-consuming and challenging project. Don’t be afraid to ask questions in web forums, online car project clubs, and of other classic car owners you’ve connected with.