Most classic car lovers who attempt to restore cars do so out of love for the automobile and what it represents to them. Many also do it for the pure challenge and personal satisfaction of restoring an object to its former glory. Although it's possible to make money restoring and selling antique autos, few do it for the money alone.
If you've never before attempted to restore a classic auto, here are some tips to save you money and aggravation before you lose yourself in your hobby.
Before you do anything to the car and especially before you spend any money, take an appraisal of the car and determine exactly how much restoration you want to do. Do you want to restore it EXACTLY to the state it was in when it came off the assembly line? Do you merely want to restore the shell and interior of the car to its former state, but completely modify and soup up the engine and internal parts? Do you want the car to be driveable or do you simply want a showcase car? The time to answer these questions is now, before you even begin to think about the next step.
With the answers from step one in hand, estimate and write down all of the materials and parts you'll need to restore the car to its desired state. Of course, you can't know everything that needs to be done until you actually get under the hood and start to work with the body, but do the best you can with what you know.
If you are not mechanically inclined, you'll have to find or hire someone to do the inspection for you. If you happen to live nearby an automobile restoration shop, you can often get one of their mechanics to make a house call and inspect your car for a fee.
Now find a good price book or a respected automobile restoration expert and begin pricing the replacement car parts. And don't forget online research. The prices of many car parts can be found on the Internet.
If you are planning on contracting the car restoration to a shop, price the labor costs also. This may take some time, but when you're done, enter all of your figures into a spreadsheet and compute the estimated total costs. Then, just to be conservative and account for unexpected repairs and cost overruns, increase the total amount by 50%. The final tally may shock you. But at the very least you won't be surprised when money begins to drain from your checking account.
Here are some of the problems you may run into while attempting to evaluate classic car and price parts:
It's not unusual to be unable to locate all of the parts that you need. Car parts become available when they become available, and some antique car parts are extremely rare. It this is the case you will either have to settle for a substitute part or wait for an authentic part to hit the market.
You may find the perfect car part that you need but it's in another city or state and needs to be shipped to you. Make sure you include shipping prices in your parts estimates. Some people and companies use transportation costs as profit centers and the resulting price may be more than you expected.
As you know, rust is the enemy of cars. Body rust is not something to be too concerned about - you are doing an automobile restoration after all. However, rust on structural parts can bust a hole in your budget big enough to sink the entire restoration project. So make a special note to look for evidence to look for rust in the wheel arches, roof pillars, floor, and so on.
For those of us who love cars, finding and restoring antique autos can be one of the most enjoyable hobbies around. Just be sure that you don't go broke while enjoying it.