6 Tips for Restoring Classic Cars

Classic car restoration is a billion-dollar industry filled with countless intricacies, so don’t worry if you’re a little overwhelmed before restoring your first car. These six steps will ensure that you stay on the right track and do the best job possible of restoring your classic car.

1. Find A Vehicle

It’s all well and good to decide that you’d like to restore a 1961 Lincoln Continental. But where will you actually find it? Browse classic car forums to see if anyone’s interested in a sale or trade. You can also plug terms like “GTO restoration” and “old muscle cars for sale” into search engines.


2. Evaluate the Entire Car

Go over the vehicle with a fine-toothed comb to determine how much work needs to be done. Pop the hood; inspect the trunk; shine a flashlight under the seats. Pay particular attention to the frame, floors and axles. If they’re compromised, you should know in advance that your restoration project will need a lot of money.

3. Draft a Budget

Speaking of money, sit down and crunch the numbers early into the restoration process. Remember that you don’t have to fix the car in a single month or even a single year; it isn’t like someone can drive off in your rusty Mercury Cougar.

4. Order a Parts Catalogue

Parts catalogues are your best bet for finding what you need during restoration. While you can look into aftermarket parts or start haggling on the Internet with distributors, original parts should be your priority, and those come from the manufacturers themselves.

5. Determine Your Project Parameters

What do you hope to do with your car after it’s finished? If you want to drive it, you’ll need to fully restore, replace and retrofit its old or unsafe components. If you just want to show it off at expos and trade fairs, your focus can be cosmetic instead of operational.

6. Ask the Experts

There’s no shame in taking your car to the professionals when you can’t figure something out. That’s why they exist in the first place. If it really bothers you to receive outside help, make it clear that you’re only looking for an evaluation and not any actual mechanical work.

These are just six tips for restoring that 1970 Pontiac Firebird to its former glory. Whether you want to put it in an auto show or just drive it around town, these tips are where you’ll want to start.

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