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Restoration Guide

Restoration Guide Published: 24th Apr 2020 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Restoration Guide
Restoration Guide
Restoration Guide
Restoration Guide
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Owning a great looking classic that draws admiring compliments is one of the most satisfying feelings you can wish for. Yet you can go one better and that’s turning a wreck into a wonder that no turn-key classic can ever match for fulfilment.

Many of the classics that you see on display at car shows were restored by their proud owners at home boasting no special skillset, relying on basic tools and common sense, time, enthusiasm and, above all else, the right approach.

Our special restoration feature doesn’t claim to be a comprehensive guide to rebuilding a wreck to a concours classic car. However, it will provide the impetus to get you looking for that perfect project and get you started on the right road.

Picking the perfect project

Getting it right from the outset can make or break a good restoration

Before deciding on what classic to bring back from the dead, speak to the relevant owners clubs for their advice and tips. Visit shows and talk to owners who have been there, done that, bought and worn the tee shirt – they will happily pass on their experiences. They may even know of cars that suit your requirements. In general terms, it’s best to buy a project with a sound bodyshell but worn mechanical parts rather than vice versa because the former is where most of your budget, time and effort will go on.

A project will be in a sorry state but you should still treat buying it just like purchasing any second-hand car. Are important documents such as the V5C registration document included? If not, you are going to have to sort out legal ownership with the DVLA – one more of the many hassles that you don’t need…

A fair compromise for the first timer is a ‘part restoration’. This is where a project has stalled for a variety of reasons. Often as not, a lot of time and money has been spent already on the vehicle and you can snap up a real bargain with most of the hard work sorted out already. Check to see if any other spares are included in the deal – after all, if they are getting rid of the car, they won’t need them, will they – and see that a V5C and keys are also present and correct.

Finally, while you should never rush the job or make it an act of duty, it’s a fact proven time and time over again, that if you haven’t made decent headway with any project within the first three months or so, then it’s odds on that you’ll never see it through to the bitter end… As many have sadly discovered.

Basically, there are three types of restorations: light, involved and the basket case although it mostly depends on your levels of skill, experience and above all else – enthusiasm.

Light restorations generally implies that not a lot more than a bit of TLC is required and it can even be used and enjoyed while a running restoration is taking place. The term involved means just that. However, that’s nothing compared to a basket case, which is a wreck and considered once you have a few restos under your belt.

Getting all tooled up for the job in hand

Good quality tools are a must for accuracy, durability and your personal safety

Yes it’s nice to have a garage and tool kit that would do a Formula One racing team proud, but you don’t need to be all tooled up to restore your classic all in one go.

When budgeting, factor in the cost of tools as part of the restoration spend. A tool kit any Formula One mechanic would be rightly proud of having is wonderful but you don’t need it so concentrate on the essential most used instruments first… but only after going through your existing collection and so not to duplicate – it’s easily done and wastes money.

It’s amazing how you’ll get by and only add luxuries, such as cutting, welding, forming machines and so on when they are justified and the budget allows. In fact, why buy such equipment, which you may only use once, when it can be hired out at quite reasonable rates?

It really boils down to whether this restoration is the start of a long term hobby or you simply just want to restore one vehicle.

Visit any car show autojumble and you’ll see a massive selection of tools to suit all budgets. However, quality varies enormously and a £5 set of low quality spanners aren’t going to last that long! Good tools have always been, and will always remain investments, as they last a lifetime so cut corners here and you’ll end up paying the price – maybe to yourself.

Yes, don’t neglect yourself because your welfare – not some bit of metal – is the most important thing of all. Working in shirt sleeves, tatty old jeans and slippery worn out trainers is totally unsuited for any workshop environment and is simply asking for trouble.

The majority of home mechanics probably have all they need to get started so only add things as and when or wait until there’s special offers and promotions bandied around, usually at car shows.

If you, like so many of us, have like-minded friends, consider starting up a tool club where you all pool resources to buy specific equipment. Many owners’ clubs operate a tool hire service which is great if you need a specific tool for your classic just for that one job and will probably never need to use again.

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