Car restoration is not a hobby for those who have short attention spans, those who don't enjoy a challenge, and those who do not want to spend money. Restoring classic cars to their original glory is an expensive hobby; buying the car is only the first step – and it can be the least expensive step if you get a rusted out model. It can take years for the car to look and perform like it did thirty, forty, or fifty years ago. So why bother? Not only is your ultimate destination – the shiny, sleek automobile – worth it, but each step in the journey is a car lover's dream. Here are some tips for making sure your investment pays off in more than happiness (though that's more than good enough).
It's imperative that you insure your classic car. If your car is a classic showpiece, you can insure it to cover "weekend" or occasional driving. If you're taking your 1969 Chevy Camaro to work and back each day, you'll need a more comprehensive policy, of course, but you might want to consider public transportation anyway. You're decreasing the value of your car tremendously by logging those extra miles. classiccars.about.com has a tool that will help you appraise the value of your vehicle and help you get it insured for the appropriate amount.
Next, when restoring your car, make sure that you use original parts. Also, don't forget about protecting your vehicle by properly covering and storing it. This is crucial in maintaining its value, which is important whether you plan on selling right now or not. When you put aftermarket parts in, such as a more powerful engine, it may make the car a more aggressive performer, but it decreases its historical authenticity and makes it worth less on the classic car circuit.
Luckily, the internet provides access to a wide variety of businesses that specialize in classic car parts – just make sure you are getting the genuine article and not a modern mock-up. This applies to paint jobs too; an auto body collision shop can slap a paint job on a car in a few days. A restorer takes several months to do the job, and the difference is in the value and the price you can command.
Another tip you'll find useful and practical is adding about 10 percent to your budget. Classic car restoration is pricey, whether you are doing it yourself or through an expert. It is common to find surprises along the way that end up costing more than you originally intended. Whether it is a part you didn't know you needed to replace or a service charge for a restoration mechanic, you should plan on the unexpected. Restorers regularly lowball the job, so an estimate really is only a best guess.
As you restore your classic car, make sure to document the process with pictures. Digital photos are a great, and convenient way, to document any changes or improvements you have made, and when you sell, it can add to the value of your car. If nothing else, seeing "before and after" photos will show you how far you've taken that rusted old Ford Mustang towards its former muscle car glory.
Classic car restoration is not a hobby for everyone; but for those who love cars, it quickly becomes more than a hobby. Classic car enthusiasts know their cars; research is key in restoring any automobile.