Car restoration is a very exciting and rewarding process, but if the necessary steps aren’t taken to make the restoration as stress-free as possible, you could wind up spending much more time, energy, and money than necessary. These are four tips you can use to make your next car restoration as stress-free as possible.
Work Out Your Budget First
Before you begin any work on the vehicle in question, sit down with some scrap paper and an auto part catalog and work out a list of parts that could all potentially fit inside of your budget. Once you’ve perfected and completed the list and you have a general dollar amount for what you intend to put into the car, be sure to never stray from it. Taking matters into your own hands down the line could result in extra, unnecessary money spent. Budget out how much time you expect to spend on it as well. There is a popular saying among some car fanatics that to estimate how much time you’re really going to spend on a project that you “double the number and change the unit” meaning that a 6 month pet project could quickly turn into a 12 year garage ornament.
Consider Whether or Not the Car is “Restorable”
Don’t go throwing money into the vehicle that you plan to restore before determining whether or not it is a “solid” car. This means that you’ll be able to perform the restoration on it without having to replace significant parts of the vehicle including the axles, floor, or the entire frame. Make sure the vehicle has a solid, strong structure and doesn’t show any significant sign of rust. A tad bit of rust is fine, but large amounts can put the entire frame at risk of crumbling. At the end of the day, the determining factor is more what you are willing to put into the car. If you are willing to rebuild it from the ground up, and invest the time and money to do that, then rust might not be as big of a deterrant.
Buy Affordable Parts Ahead of Time
Along with getting an idea for what parts you plan to order for your car restoration process, you should also make sure you have all tools and other hardware on hand. For example, you will more than likely need a 1” or larger lag bolt collection for the procedure, so you would need to buy in bulk to save on money and have enough bolts on hand. A great place to start looking for bolts like these is http://www.wholesalebolts.com/carriage-bolts.aspx. Make sure that you look for authentic parts if you plan to sell the vehicle after you have restored it. Many collectors and buyers won’t take vehicles that are redone with unoriginal parts, or they will discount what they would pay by the cost of fitting it with original parts. If you are planning on keeping it for personal use, you might be able to save money by using more common parts.
Inspect the Entire Vehicle Before Restoring
Lastly, make sure you have a list on hand of everything in the car that needs to be restored. If you have access to a nearby mechanic, take the car over and ask them to lift it so that you can get a good look at every side of the vehicle. Many times, hidden pockets of rust can’t be seen from a simple look under the hood or a glance from your creeper. A good mechanic might also be able to give you a rough estimate of the cost and time required to fix you car. Before you invest hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars in a beater, you might want to know what you are getting into.
Overall, making the necessary preparations and playing it safe with your car restoration will eventually save you lots of time, money, and energy. Create a solid plan and stick with it from the start to finish of your car restoration.