Classic car restoration can be something as simple as getting an old car that’s sat for years running again. Or it can be as involved as fully disassembling it, sending the frame and suspension out to be acid dipped for cleaning and replating, then reassembling it to be as close to factory fresh as possible. Then there’s what some people call “restumization”. This is where you will do as much restoration as you easily can and then perform a car customization for the rest of the needed work.
What Kind to Perform
Ok. You’ve bought the car you want to restore. Now you have to decide whether you’re going to do a full frame-off show-quality restoration, which can take years to perform properly or make yourself a resto-rod, a classic car restoration plus customization. Because of the quantity of excellent specimens on and off the market, cars from the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s readily lend themselves to classic car customization, with some notable exceptions for very rare models/years. Pre-war cars, except a small percentage that are used for hot rods, are normally fully restored. Due to the time and expense in a full, show quality restoration, most owners and enthusiasts will opt for a frame-on restoration, coupled with a minor amount of car customization, such as chopping and channeling the roof an inch or two. Questions to ask yourself during this decision-making process include the following:
Money Saving Restoration Tips
Saving money is always a good thing. Performing even a partial restoration is a time and money consuming enterprise. If you have the technical and mechanical ability, you can save thousands of dollars by doing the disassembly and reassembly yourself. With the right books (Peterson’s Publications does a great Body Basics Series), you can do most of the needed bodywork yourself. Rusted panels, as long as they aren’t rusted into holes, can be salvaged by using a product called Rust-Mort instead of cutting the rusted portion out and welding in a new piece. Old and tired paint can be prepped in about two hours with a rotary sander and some 100 grit sanding pads. Remember, unless you suspect there to be rust, you really only need to roughen the paint so it will take primer. If you’re able to control the can and the paint flow properly, primer can be applied using spray primer readily available at dozens of outlets in almost every area.
Unless you’re a professional mechanic, there are going to be tools you’ll need but don’t own. This is fairly easy and inexpensive to remedy. You will normally have two options when it comes to tools you don’t currently own. The first is to buy them used, online (eBay is your friend) or at your local swap meet or Show and Shine Show. The second option is for those that don’t desire to own the tools. Most chain parts stores rent or loan tools. You will have to leave a deposit, but when you bring back the tool clean, they’ll return it to you.
As long as you pay attention to the car restoration tips given and carefully consider your answers to the above mentioned questions, you’ll come away from the classic car restoration or customization project with a car you and your family will love for many years to come.