WE ASKED: Based upon your experience and knowledge, what tips would you offer other hobbyists who may be considering starting a restoration project?
- Buy a car that is already restored.
- The best way to save money on a restoration project is to gain almost expert knowledge on how to spot excellent quality work. Then go to auctions and bid on restored cars. You can usually purchase one cheaper than restoring it this way.
- To save money you have to be willing to do some of the work yourself and be willing to take time to look everywhere to find the part you need.
- Try to do as much work as you can. You will be surprised how much free advice is out there. Ask questions. If you can save on labor you will save big and you can use the money for more parts. Shop around for those components and parts. Car show vendors are a great resource. Car magazines and the web are also useful in finding your parts at discount.
Sell your old parts. eBay is an excellent source for selling and buying classic parts. You will be surprised how much your old stuff is worth and will offset some of the cost of your project as well as finding a good home for your old parts.
- Do a lot of the preparation work yourself. Dismantle and reassemble as much as you are comfortable with. Remember to label everything you remove and clean/polish/paint these parts before you put them away.
- Go to lots of swap meets. Original and NOS parts are better than catalog reproductions in fit and finish. Shop for the best prices, but ask lots of questions!
- Purchase a project that someone has almost completed and lost interest in. It will cost less than starting from scratch.
- Try to use as many original parts as possible. Clean and inspect parts from the car. Most parts can be reused and painted with bare metal paints to look original.
- When using repro parts always look at fit and finish and not just the price. Most repro parts are good but still not as good as factory parts.
- Shop around continuously. It does take time, but it will definitely help the pocket book. Use the Internet for parts; it’s a real money saver.
Research the quality and prices of the restoration shops. Do not be afraid to ask them for references. Check the local government consumer protection agencies for registered complaints.
- Never give a large amount of money up front for expenses. You may end up with no work for your money.
- On the work that you send out, have a clear understanding of the costs and expectations of work performed written in contract form, just as you would when building a home. If the shop has their own contract, seek legal advice before signing.
- Have all necessary parts and material with the car ahead of time. A shop’s time adds up fast when he has to make calls and chase down parts; plus, in most cases, they tack on a percentage. Once more check on the car often, especially when paying time and material you will have somewhat of an idea as to what’s going on.
- Don't buy a bunch of tools you will use only once, you’re not in the business. Rent when you can.
Join a club and seek assistance from members. You’ll be surprised how much free labor is out there when it involves a collector car, a Saturday, and a good cigar.