Classic Car Restoration-What You Need To Know

Classic Car Restoration-What You Need To Know

Classic Car Restoration is a unique piece of art once the work is done on a Classic Car. Restoring a classic car has it’s joy and headaches. It comes with the ultimate labor of love that requires time, patience, skill, and of course, a good garage or workshop with the right tools for the job. For a classic car lover such as myself, bringing a car back to life is a very rewarding experience. There’s a possibility you could see turning a profit when you sell the car.

Original classic cars are becoming more rare and many being too expensive for the average collector. Now classic car enthusiasts are turning to restoration as a way of affordably owning their dream car. But as with all dreams and ambitions, there’s work to be done before you stand back and admire your handiwork. The average classic car restoration takes at least 1,000 hours to complete.

The Motor Masters will offer advice on what you need to know when starting a classic car restoration project. We will also provide practical mechanical advice to help you get started. No matter what your previous experience or skills are, our goal is to help people who have never restored an old car and point you in the right direction.

Laying the Groundwork:

Restoring a car is a major commitment and project. It’s easy to underestimate things, such as material costs, price of tools needed to carry out certain jobs, and the unknowns. Always do your homework before splashing out on an old car because it’s very important!


Time and Money:

Your project will be destined to fail from the start if you don’t have enough time to complete your project. The only other option or is to stall long enough to complete what you can. The goal is to concentrate fully on the project and not interfering with your family or work life.

The average classic car restoration costs anywhere between $45,000 and $65,000 for tools, materials, hardware, etc. This doesn’t include the price of buying the car. It is simply just a ballpark figure, and your project could cost more or less depending on the car you buy and how much work is required.

You need to give yourself a budget and finding a car which suits it (in terms of the upfront cost and how much you estimate you’ll have to spend on it) rather than falling in love with a car and budgeting around it. That said it should also be a car that you feel excited about, as you’re going to be investing a lot of money, time, and energy into it.

Finding the Perfect Car

Now this is one of the hardest parts of classic car restoration — finding the right car to work on. Choosing a car that can be restored to a high standard while keeping costs down is a balancing act, so shop around and get advice from fellow enthusiasts.

The best place to start your search is classified ads in your local paper or online. Sites like Ebay and Craigslist are places for bargain classic cars, but make sure you view the car before purchasing. There are also sites selling good quality classic cars that need restored. They include Our Site and Hemmings, which advertise hundreds of old cars from every major manufacturer. Just make sure you do plenty of research online ahead of any major buying decision.

Classic Car

There are a few things to look for when you decide to view a car that will tell you about its condition and how easy it’ll be to restore. Rule of thumb, only buy a complete car that’s solid from major damage and being rust free. Even though parts can be replaced and certain problems can be fixed, the cost could spiral.

Tip: If you need to purchase replacement parts, websites like the one we mentioned earlier are a great place to search for the cheapest deals as recommended by fellow classic car enthusiasts.

Space, Tools and Equipment

The biggest cost will be investing in tools, equipment and materials needed to complete the restoration of the highest quality. That’s after you’ve found a space large enough to act as a workshop. Otherwise, you will have to outsource your project to a Classic Car Specialist. and that’s after you’ve found a space large enough to act as a workshop.

Here is a list of tools you’re going to need for the project. Knowing which tools you need prior to starting the project will, not only help you keep tabs on the budget, it’ll save you lots of time and energy:

Sockets and a wrench
Sheet metal scissors
A drill and drill bits
Wire brushes
Floor jack
Electrical tools, such as an air compressor, voltage checker, etc

Along with these simple tools, you may also need access to the following:

Engine crane and engine stand
Jack stands

To save money, we highly recommend hiring people with these tools when they’re needed. Some of the tools require specialist skill and knowledge, so be prepared to get help with certain jobs or else invest in a training course to carry out the work yourself.

Originality vs. Personality

Many Classic Car Enthusiasts have debated whether to restore a car to its original condition or add your own flair and personality.

Old School Restorators would argue that classic cars should be bought back to original when rolling off the production line. This includes everything from the gear stick, to the exhaust tailpipe refashioned, so that it resembles the original component.

Chevorlet Camaro SS

Although true originality will get a higher price when it comes to selling the car, we think it’s better to go with your gut and put together your own personal touches. The car should reflect you, not the next buyer, so don’t be afraid to choose the colors and design choices you like to coincide the car’s original appearance.

Mechanical Considerations

Let’s assume you’ve purchased a good project car and have the space, tools, time and money to restore it from the ground up. It’s time to think about what work is required to reinstate its original charm and showroom shine.

Body and Paintwork Repair

If there’s one characteristic most old cars share, it’s eroding paint and bodywork. Even if they’ve been well taken care of, classic cars have a tendency to develop faded paintwork and damage in the form of rust spots or dings.

You’ve got to tackle body and paint restoration head on if you want the best results. There’s no shortcut when it comes to restoring paintwork and body panels. Learning how to hammer out dents and rebuild body panels from scratch requires patience and practise.

Paint and Body

Investing in a welding and metalwork course will help you master the art of Classic Car Restoration. A metalworking course is a worthwhile investment if you want the satisfaction of completing the whole project yourself. It will teach you the skills to sculpt brand new body panels for your car out of sheet metal.

Seized Components

You can almost guarantee there’ll be something than needs attention underneath the frame, even if an old car looks OK on the outside . Moving parts end up corroding and decay due to sitting long periods of time. Transmission and brake fluid, and all other fluids, must be changed at least every two years, or else the systems are likely to fail. If it’s been left to sit or rot in a shed for years, you might find you have to repair or replace most of its moving parts.


If you don’t regular charge your battery, it will go bad in about 4 weeks, and less time in winter. When sitting for three months or longer, charging the battery may not be enough to bring it back to life, so you might need to replace it.

All electrical components and wiring within the car will need to be checked to make sure they still work. Wires can deteriorate over time, particularly if they’ve been exposed to moisture. Mice have a tendency to chew through internal cables, so always cover and secure your car when it’s left standing in the garage or workshop.


If you see mold in your car’s interior, don’t worry. Surface mold is actually easy to remove from the interior of a car using a regular cabin cleaning product. Simply apply the product to the mold and scrub away with a cloth. Be aware that the presence of mold could indicate that the cabin isn’t watertight, and this will need to be plugged to stop mold from spreading again in the future.

Is Restoring an Old Car a Viable Option?

If you the best chance of successful classic car restoration, here are some questions to ask yourself before diving into a new project.

What is my budget, and do I have enough for the complete cost?? If the answer’s no, it’s time to dig out the calculator.
Do I have the space to work and store the car in? If not, consider other options like renting a workspace or borrowing a family member’s garage.
What is my timeframe, and how much time will I need to devote to the project each week? Make sure the project doesn’t conflict with your other commitments. Remember, a complete restoration could take at least a year or more.
Do I have the skills and expertise to complete the work to a highest of standards? Welding and metalwork are just two of the skills you’ll need to restore a car. Invest in training courses or outsource jobs to achieve a great finish.

Muscle Car Engine

Remember, restoring a classic car should be a fun and exciting experience so pick a car that you want to own and be prepared for some tough but rewarding work.


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