Classic automobile restoration can be quite costly if you leave all the work to high priced professional shops. Unless you’re restoring a car to go on the high end show circuit, there are a number of ways for you to save significant amounts of money on your next classic auto preservation or restoration project.
Buy Used Parts when Possible
If you’re buying something like a control arm or a differential, seats or door panels and many others, you can save quite a large amount of money by buying either at swap meets or junkyards. One way to save even more money is by buying your used parts at self service junkyards. Parts not listed below can safely be bought as used parts in order to save you money:
New Parts Buying
One of the best places to find original equipment and replica classic auto parts is called Year One. No matter what kind of part, whether it’s body, suspension, interior or drive train, you’ll find it at Year One at some of the best prices around.
Do Your Own Work
Most of the classic automobile restoration process can be performed by someone with average mechanical skills, and the proper books and tools. Your local library should have a number of titles from Chilton’s and Haynes that can be checked out to guide you through the classic automobile restoration process. If you want to buy them, most of these books will be available at your local large auto parts retail chain store.
Rent, don’t Buy Tools
Many of the large retail chain parts stores will also rent or loan you tools that you will need but that most average car owners don’t own, such as spring compressors and gear and bearing pullers. Check with the stores in your area to see what tools they have available, and what they require for loaning and renting tools.
Bodywork can be the most time consuming and expensive part of the classic automobile restoration process if you let it. Go to the library and check out a book on bodyworking basics and do as much of the basic work yourself. If your car really only needs a paint job, you can save money by doing all of the prep work yourself. A rotary sander with a number of 100 grit pads and a few hours will result in most cars being able to be sanded down enough to take a couple coats of primer prior to being sent off to the paint shop.
Restore don’t Replace Rusted Pieces
Up until the last 20 years or so, if you were restoring a classic car and ran into a rusty panel, you had no choice but to take the time and effort to replace the panel, which also consumed more money. SEM Products has come to the rescue with a product called Rust-Mort. This product, when applied to a properly prepared piece of rusty metal, will convert the rust into a paintable polymer, while retaining a majority of its structural integrity.
Following just a few of the above mentioned tips and tricks for saving money can save you thousands on your next classic automobile restoration project.