I Really Want to Restore a Classic Car but How do I Actually Do It? Part 2: In-Depth


So, its now clear a car restoration is in your future, and you’ve a good understanding of what it involves at the start. Now, you’ve got to get into the day by day work and planning; and this too involves ‘need know’ information.

Dependent on whether you’ve found a well-known car you wish to restore (or a rare one that leaves you unique) shall influence much of your action. If you’re set to restore a Mustang or Chevy you will never struggle to find someone to buy a drink and bend their ear for 10 minutes when you need some insight.

By contrast, if you are set to restore a little model from a little car manufacturer (and maybe not in business anymore) then you may be doing this more by yourself. Notwithstanding this though, whatever you’re restoring a number of guidelines can help serve to get you through the restoration process, and eventually back upon the road sooner.

I. Allow Time to Disassemble and Inspect

It may be tempting to see a car, go ‘Ok it just needs a new coat of paint and a couple of parts’ – but you need know for sure what is working and what isn’t. This is especially so as not only is this an important part of restoration work generally – for no engineer would build a new structure without first exploring the underlying foundations – but it also ensures no ‘surprises’ when you eventually drive it.

Classic Car

‘Yeah it’s definitely drivable – but you really need to put on that steering wheel first’.

II. Use the Internet

There was a time in an era gone by whereby a restoration project was likely to be a very lonely affair. Searching for a group in your city (if you indeed lived in a city) was usually your first step, but then the parts and knowledge required was acquired via piecemeal and patchwork progress.

Now though, there is little a Google search doesn’t sort. Even then, if you don’t get an answer to your question, there are a ton of specialist auto forums that you can seek out an expert. Though this depends on your car a little, from Portland to Paris, Dallas to Dubrovnik, Milan to Melbourne; if you’ve a classic car you adore there’s likely a resource online available to assist your project.

Finally, there is even the more general forums (but who have a huge following) like Reddit Cartalk. If you’re really stuck for an answer you can seek out some advice from a veteran gearhead who is sure to be across the nuts and bolts of all under the auto sun.

II. DIY (but get a expert when you can’t)

Mustang Engine

‘So the Mustang starts but there’s stuff that looks like dust…OH, that IS dust? OK then.’


There is a difference between auto restorers who seek help. The first restorer who seeks help gets their car on the road, the restorer who doesn’t seek help (and thinks they know it all) often ends up with their car in the wrong place.

So, while your basic repair and restoration is certainly something you can look to do at home – and if you’re a certified mechanic go bonkers! – but be prepared to hand off to a specialist when the time comes, especially if you are repairing a vehicle that is uncommon of rare.

Getting into Gear


Before it was restored this car was actually a boat. You’re THAT passionate about cars.

Finally, while you are unlikely to see car restoration as an avenue to make a ton of money, if you’re a bona fide ‘car guy’ or ‘car girl’ you may feel the urge irrepressible to take something old and turn it new once more.

So, if you’re reading this article and not looking over your shoulder to your uncle’s old car parked outside side but instead have seen an old mustang in your city with a ‘for sale, needs work’ sign on it? Do it.

While not everyone has a car restoration story with a good outcome, everyone has an interesting car restoration story. So, if you feel at this stage in your life finances and timetable allow for such a move go ahead and make some history of your own bringing a vintage vehicle back to life.

Ed Kennedy is a journalist, ghostwriter, and web developer from Melbourne, Australia. Contact Ed via enquiries@edkennedy.co on LinkedIn or Twitter@EdKennedy01

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