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Picking the Perfect Project

Picking the Perfect Project Published: 24th Apr 2019 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Picking the Perfect Project
Picking the Perfect Project
Picking the Perfect Project
Picking the Perfect Project
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Don’t run before you can walk and don’t jump in at the deep end. Old adages they may be but these well known sayings will stand you in good stead

Before you decide on what classic to make even better than brand new, speak to the relevant owners’ clubs for their advice and tips.

Visit as many shows as practicable this year and talk to owners who have been there, done that, bought and worn the tee shirt and lived to tell the tale who will happily pass on their experiences. They may even know of cars that suit your requirements.

In general terms, it’s best, and usually much cheaper, to buy a vehicle blessed with a sound bodyshell but worn mechanical parts rather than the other way round because the former is where most of your budget, time and effort will go on.
Admittedly, it’s a project in a sorry state but you should still treat buying one 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 – an added hassle you don’t need…

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 and dedication for the task which will be the decider.

Light restorations generally implies that not a lot more than a bit of TLC is required. Nothing too bad or costly, hopefully, and it can even be used and enjoyed while a running restoration is taking place although it’s usually better to lay the car up and get stuck in.

The term involved means just that. Adverts proclaiming “would suit enthusiast” is the classic car equivalent to estate agent jargon and you shouldn’t underestimate what needs to be done, even if it’s still a legal runner. However, that’s nothing compared to a basket case, which is a wreck – full stop – and is better considered once you have a few restos under your belt and feel a bit more adventurous!

A fair compromise is to consider 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.

Or why not consider buying two cars to make one good ’un? Say you find a good Spitfire or Midget that’s falling to bits but good mechanically; why not simply search for bodily good one with poor oily bits and simply swap them over, saving you time and, in most cases, money – a perfect way to ease yourself to the game, plus have a copious amount of valuable spares left over?

Talking of which, when conducting any deal, check to see if any other spares are included – 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, let’s end with a gentle word of warning. Don’t procrastinate! 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.

Don’t let it be you…

Best way to buy

A private affair for you?

Should be the cheapest route to purchase plus you get to meet the owner who may be now desperate to sell cheaply – but why? Check that all the relevant papers are present and how much work has been carried out already, If none best be wary

Terrific trade tempters

Classic dealers often have projects to sell for a variety of reasons, perhaps on behalf of a customer. Like all auctions classic sales are not for the faint-hearted but can snap up bargains (such as Beaulieu) so long as you know your stuff

Bag a brilliant barn find

Once shunned, these are in vogue right now because they shout originality even though the vehicles will be in a decrepit state and once restored costs may exceed price of a concours car! Ensure it’s legal to buy and comes with paperwork etc

Five top tips

Keep it simple

For your first restoration, it’s probably best to choose a mainstream classic that’s well known and served by good specialists plus is relatively simple and cost-effective to restore so you gain confidence along the way. Rare cars, although ego boosting, will be a pain to source parts for and you may end up disillusioned and out of pocket with the hobby

Take your time

At the end of the day a project classic car is just an old car and view as such, so don’t rush in and buy the first that you see. Unless it’s a real rarity, there are usually plenty of others on sale so treat it as just another car that you are buying – if that’s at all possible!

Run or sit still?

While many enthusiasts have carried out a ‘running restoration’ with great success, it’s far easier to lay the car up and get stuck in and get it sorted once and for all

Your skillset

Deciding upon what type of restoration to tackle should depend on how much time, energy and money you can devote to it. Take a reality check and don’t set unreasonable targets that won’t be met. As Henry Ford once coined “If you can, or can’t – you’re right! Most importantly of all, we reckon, is never lose sight of the fact that this is supposed to be a hobby to release the burdens of modern life – not add to them!

Budget right

Don’t think of a DIY resto simply as a means to save your hard earned. A good rule is to calculate a budget – and then double it!



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