Car restoration is not an easy undertaking. It takes a lot of passion and even more patience, but the end result will not only give you a sense of pride, but also many years of enjoyment. Since you already have a dream in mind, it is a good idea to make a list of expectations based on your ability and available resources. This should be an honest assessment because the end result will be what you put into it, and what you can afford to purchase. Research, research and more research will be your best asset in completing any restoration project.
Financially speaking, a full restoration can cost more than the vehicle's gross worth when completed, and you should weigh the value of an already restored car on the market versus one that needs restoration. Shop around and do not be sold on a hopeless case based on sentimental value, or one that needs more work and money than you are able to give. Don't fall for the misinformed theory that you have to have deep pockets to restore a car. Yes, it will cost you a lot of money and old parts are not cheap, but it can be done on a smart and realistic budget over time.
1) Plan your time and budget on a monthly schedule, and stick to it. This will help you tackle small projects and focus your efforts on completing a task. By setting small goals, you are less likely to lose interest in the sometimes-overwhelming process of restoration. Start with your strong points and what you know best. This will help you avoid incomplete projects or broken, irreplaceable disasters.
2) When you come to those tasks that can only be performed by a professional, get estimates and include this in your budget. Talk with the professionals to see what you can do to save time and money. If you can perform the grunt work preparation, than do it by all means. Just make sure you are not causing more work for them, which will wind up costing you more money in the end.
3) Documentation and pictures are not only a good idea, but can be a great asset to the value of the vehicle. When disassembling a section of a car you may end up with many pieces scattered about and you need to remember where each one goes. Pictures will help jog your memory. Good packaging and labels will keep parts and accessories together and complete. You never know when a project might get shelved for an extended period of time and there is nothing worse than having to track down an expensive small part that got lost in the shuffle. Staying organized will save a lot of headaches and frustration.
4) If a task becomes beyond your own capabilities, don't be afraid to ask for help or recommendations. I have yet to run across a gear head that is not willing to put his two cents in. If you do not know a car enthusiast personally, the Internet has many great resources loaded with people who are as passionate as you are, and more than willing to share time and information on just about every vehicle ever made. Car clubs are a great way to share resources and knowledge and most are very open and inviting to new members. They are enthusiastic about the same things you are, so don't be afraid to make new friends and ask questions. Books are also great resources, not only on correct vehicle options, but how to perform tasks that are unfamiliar. A little trial and error goes a long way; do not try something new to you on a part that might get ruined.
Honest assessment, patience and organization will carry you a long way and in turn, save you money in the long run. Taking small steps and not biting off more than you can chew will save you unnecessary frustration and keep you motivated, even when it seems like the project will never end. Research and knowledge will ensure that your end result will be exactly as you envisioned, and soon you will be cruising in the car you've always dreamed of.
I have a great passion for classic cars and perform work on such great rides daily. A lot of trial and error can go in to a restoration and I would like to share my wealth of knowledge with you, just as others have done for me. All in hope to save hours of frustration and headaches. If you would like to learn more about the process of restoration, building a hot rod or the collectible car market place check out my
blog or view some of my completed work at GT Automotive, LLC