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Classic Car Restoration: 5 Tips To Help You Choose The Right Car To Restore

Luxury / Classic Cars

Classic Car Restoration: 5 Tips To Help You Choose The Right Car To Restore

Restoring a classic car is a labour of love, requiring a significant investment of time, effort, and money. Classic car expert Kenneth Wong offers five tips to help you choose the right classic car to restore.

Written by Kenneth E.Y. Wong on 30 June 2017

Original classic cars are becoming a rarity, with many being simply too expensive for the average collector. This means an ever-increasing number of classic car enthusiasts are turning to restoration as more affordable way to attain the classic car of their dreams.

With classic cars continuing to soar in value – registering 457% growth over the past 10 years, according to consultancy Knight Frank – one might wonder: why wouldn’t you want buy a “fixer-upper” and restore it to its former glory? As we know, old classics aren’t increasing in numbers. As time goes by, there will be less classic models available as many get stored away, some lost to accidents, and others just left there to collect dust and deteriorate. So buying and restoring a classic car is a winning proposition from an investment perspective, right?

Not necessarily. Before you jump to conclusions and embark on the car restoration journey, take the time to consider the following factors:

jaguar e-type-series 1

Dubbed “Black Beauty,” has been a success on the show circuit, racking up three perfect 100-point scores at
Jaguar Club of North America events and earning the title of JCNA National Champion. *Source: Hemmings

You’ll spend more than planned

Many car aficionados believe that they will be able to buy a car for a cheap price, spend a bit of money fixing it up and then, after driving and enjoying it, sell it and pocket a handsome profit. But this is usually not the case.

Unless the car was owned by someone famous, has a documented history, or is exceptionally rare and expensive, it will cost more to restore than it’s worth. And no one will pay top dollar for a car unless it’s a top-notch, fresh restoration.

1958 Porsche 356 A 1600 S Cabriolet

While the 911 is Porsche’s longest-lived model, it was the 356 that established the marque’s sterling reputation.
*Source: Rmsothebys

You Will Probably End Up Saying: “I Swear I Will Never, Ever Do This Again!”

Typically, car restorations are tedious and require loads time and effort. And there are never any pleasant surprises.

Even if you’ve set aside an enormous reserve of cash, you’ll buy things you never accounted for. And then the prices of parts will go up. You’ll buy things twice. If you’re taking the car apart and putting it back together, you’ll buy tools you never knew existed – and use them only once! In the end, you will probably say: “I swear I will never, ever do this again!”

However, some people have made big money through restoration, and many of them have probably said: “I swear I will never, ever do this again!” But here they are, doing it again and again.

How to choose the right classic car to restore

Choosing the right car to restore is really important. If you select the correct make, model, and most importantly ensure original production numbers were low, you could have a winning combination. Whether it’s a Ferrari or any other make, make sure it drives passion and ignites that fire within you.

Here are five tips to help you choose the right classic car to restore:

01.

Choose a car that will hold its value

There are countless classic cars for sale, and many of these will require extensive restoration. Most of these cars aren’t worth much, and will never be valuable no matter how carefully they’re restored. Don’t impulsively settle on a particular model. It is imperative that you take the time to do some serious research to find out which models will be more valuable once they’ve undergone restoration. A car with appreciation potential might cost more to buy, but it’s important to remember that the cost of the car is only a small component of the total project cost.

02.

Make sure the car is able to start

If you buy a classic car that is able to start and run smoothly, you significantly decrease the chances of having to do costly and time-consuming repairs. Purchasing a non-running car that has been sitting there stagnant for a protracted period of time can be a risky proposition. In the best-case scenario, you might need a new battery, starter, or fuel pump. In the worst-case scenario, you may need to rebuild or replace the car’s entire engine.

03.

Check availability of replacement parts

A shortage of replacement parts can stop your car restoration project dead in its tracks. If you buy a classic car that is rare, there may not be aftermarket replacement parts available and used parts may be prohibitively expensive. To ensure your car restoration project stays on track in terms of time and budget, make sure the availability of replacement parts won’t be an issue.

04.

Watch out for rust

If the classic car you buy has not been kept in the right environment over the years, you may find that its chassis has been eaten away by rust. Rust damage can be difficult to repair, and may require replacement of steel body panels. If you buy a rust bucket, be prepared to strip the entire chassis, sand blast every inch of metal, cut off sections that cannot be repaired and weld new replacement sections. Needless to say, rust repair can be a major pain, so it’s important to examine the car carefully before you buy and know what you’re getting into.

05.

Seek expert advice

If you know someone who possesses expertise in classic cars or experience in auto restoration, bring him or her along to look at a potential purchase. Getting feedback from an expert with a critical eye before you buy can save you time, money, and a headache down the road.

aston martin DB4

British and Polish technology, Italian design

The bottom line

If you’re careful, a car restoration project can bring immense satisfaction. Conversely, carelessness can result in wasted time and money and crushing disappointment. Whatever your motivation for restoring a classic car, it is ultimately a labour of love – requiring time, patience, skill and of course, a good garage or workshop with the right tools for the job. For a classic car lover, bringing a car back to life can be a rewarding experience – and one that could see you turn a profit when you sell the car on.

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