The car restoration blog

For the beginner

Restoring an antique or classic automobile, for the beginner.

What are the considerations and the pitfalls when choosing an automobile of your dreams to restore?

There are many things that are good to know:

  1. What type fo car?
  2. What condition it should be in?
  3. What are your skills?
  4. How much time do you wish to spend on the restorstion?
  5. What is your budget?
  6. Having the space to do the work.
  7. Clubs and associations near you.

1. Getting the right car for the beginner is crucial. If you buy the wrong car, chances that you´ll ever will get done with it quite slim.
So, therefore buy a car that was common in the state or country you live in. In Europe, a not to rare car from the area could be a German/British ford or GM saloon car that everyday people drove in that time. Parts for GM´s and Ford´s are relatively easy to find and don’t cost a fortune. If you want an almost guarantied access to parts, then Mercedes is the way to go, but they are a bit more expensive.

If you want to go for British automobiles, the accessibility of parts is quite good.

If the car must be an American one, there is a huge aftermarket for parts almost in all of the world. My first choice for an American automobile would be a Chevrolet or Buick, or maybe a ford of some kind, even if I am a GM person.

So going for something like a Packard, top of the line Cadillac or Lincoln for American cars is desirable but these cars are complicated and expensive to restore. If you want to go even further with the extravaganza, there are the Duesenberg, Auburn, Cords and other rare luxury cars of the 30´s and 40´s.

2. When it comes to condition, then the better condition the less money you have to spend on repairs. Try to find a car that suits your abilities and space in your workshop. If you have someone who can help you when choosing the car that’s even better, considering that this person can also help you with your problems that you might encounter when restoring. Have in mind of what kind of work you want to do because there are many skills to learn, such as: mechanical, Bodywork, paint, upholstery and electrical work.

3. Do not overestimate your skills, but you might buy a car witch condition will put your skills to the test. That is a nice way of learning a lot in a short time. As an example, I had to redo the roof lining in my car, but I did not know how to do it! So, I bought an antique sewing machine and got to learn how to use it. After a few days I bought the material for the lining, and suddenly, a week later I had a new lining. That was good fun to learn and it will be useful for restoring my car seats. I learned to paint with the same technique, well not with the sewing machine... but by trial and error on some less visible or important parts.

4 and 5. When it come to the time that is scheduled, you can be sure that you will have to at least add some 50% more. When it comes to money, well its almost the same. When you take part of the car apart something breaks or is eventually missing, so there will be some extra costs.

6. Workshop space is very important! When one takes a car apart completely all the parts take at least as much space as the car itself, and then you need the space to work. You also need space for a workbench and some power tools like a drill press, welding machine and all your hand tools. When It come to the tools that you eventually will have to buy, you don´t need to get the super pro tools, but a good mid range quality will be just fine. Remember that you are not using the tools like a professional mechanic does all day long.

7. Clubs and associations are very good to have at hand when needed! Join the local club that corresponds to your car make and even car model. There you will almost be able to find a person that is a specialist in your car model. These person usually have a vast knowledge and experience when it come to mechanical issues and odd details that are good to know.