The Top 8 Classic Car Restoration Dos and Don’ts

With plenty of old things becoming trendy again, for car enthusiasts, now is the perfect time to embark on an exciting, fulfilling project: restoring a classic ride.
Restoring a classic car is an incredible way to breathe new life into a piece of automotive history. This particular type of project can be fun, challenging, exciting, and relaxing, all at the same time. Once the restoration is complete, you will feel an incomparable sense of accomplishment, pride, and joy.
To experience all these during and after your classic car restoration project, you need to go through the entire process correctly. This entails following the correct recommended steps and avoiding time- and money-wasting mistakes.
To enjoy the whole process of restoring a classic car and get the results you are expecting, remember these important dos and don’ts:


1. Choose a restoration type based on your goal

When having a classic car restored, you have to choose among four kinds or levels. These are:
Driver restoration – This is the most basic type of enhancement work done on classic cars. Under this level, the vehicle is repaired to make it operational again. Minor cosmetic issues are fixed as well. This is the best option if you want to have a working automobile for personal use.  
Street show restoration – Under this level, the car is restored to working condition, and both major and minor cosmetic issues are fixed.  
Show car restoration – This type usually requires the help of professionals since the vehicle will undergo major repair and improvement works. Once restored, you can display your vehicle in classic car shows and exhibitions. However, you won’t be able to go out for long drives using this automobile.
Concourse restoration – This is the highest level and most expensive type of restoration. This is done on cars that are placed in private collections and exclusive classic auto shows. Professionals do all the work, and once the project is complete, you will be asked not to drive the car.
To avoid spending more than you have to on restoring your old car and to be sure you will turn it into the vehicle you want, understand the different types and choose the one that suits your needs.

2. Read the owner’s manual

No matter how long you have owned the car, take the time to become reacquainted with it and know your vehicle even more.
Keep in mind that a simple mistake caused by a lack of information or wrong assumption can cause significant issues that can lead to poor, unexpected results. As such, re-read your automobile’s manual before starting the project.
If you don’t have the owner’s manual, look for it online. Download it so that you can have access to your copy anytime.

3. Use existing parts that can still be salvaged or repaired

When restoring a classic car, you don’t have to replace each and every piece, even the damaged ones. By reusing the current parts, you can save some money on this project.
Although you can get authentic reproduction parts, they are often expensive and hard to find. If you want to save money and time, repair or refurbish and reuse the existing components.
Many damaged car parts can still be cleaned and repaired. These include the windshield and trim. If you can’t fix or restore them, you can have a professional handle them, which would still be a more cost-effective solution.

4. Update some car parts and equipment

Although you can (and should) use existing parts, you have to know which ones have to be replaced. You should also add and upgrade certain gear and equipment.
First on this list is the safety equipment. Many old cars have substandard seatbelts and do not have airbags. This is something that you have to prioritize if you are restoring your vehicle to use it again.
You can also upgrade the electronics, radio, and other systems to update your vehicle and make it more functional. A car AC repair or upgrade is a must, too, especially if you live in a hot area.


1. Skip the mock-up

Performing a mock-up is a crucial step in successful classic car restorations. This process involves pre-fitting and gapping all body panels while they are in raw steel or primer before doing any finish work and paint job to ensure they all fit.
Although this is a time-consuming process, doing it will save you a lot of trouble throughout the project. If you skip this step, you will end up having doors, fenders, hoods, and other sheet metal that do not fit.
Additionally, if the body and parts are all painted, you will have to overcome another big problem: how to make them fit without damaging the paint.

2. Stick to old engine technology

The engine is another car part that can benefit from some updates.
To have a more reliable and safer driving experience, replace some components with newer, better versions. These include spark plug connections, air filters, and brake lines and hoses.
If you do your research right, you will find new parts that are compatible with your car’s system. As a result, you can improve your vehicle’s performance without making extremely drastic changes.

3. Overlook tiny details

Small details, such as getting the right door-lock button for your car, will boost your vehicle’s appeal. They will help you avoid certain inconveniences as well.
Cleaning and maintaining your car properly after it has been restored will allow you to be a proud owner of a classic vehicle, too.
By paying attention to these small details, you will bring your restored classic car up to an entirely different level.

4. Set a low budget

Classic car restoration projects are expensive. As such, you have to be sure you can afford it before committing to it.
Additionally, try not to set a low budget for this project. If you do, don’t expect to have the amazing, perfect ride within a few months or so.
Before you start calling up service centers that specialize in classic car restorations, think about the type or level of work you want to get done. You can then ask for quotes or estimates for your project and set a budget based on what you get.
You also have to remember that there will always be additional, unexpected costs that come up during the project. You have to be prepared for these expenses and include them in your budget, too.
Classic car restoration projects require a lot of time, money, and patience. You can avoid a lot of delays and hassles and minimize the unexpected expenses if you remember the points above before and during the entire process.
Ahmad Ramadan is a Managing Partner at Deutsche Technik Service Center, Dubai’s first and largest VW, Audi, Mercedes, Bentley, Porsche, & Lamborghini vehicle specialist and performance tuner. DT has also built an illustrious portfolio in classic car repair, maintenance, and restoration, as well as bodywork (accident repair, painting, and denting). DT Service Centre offers a full range of services: mechanical repairs, maintenance, servicing, etc.

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