We know only too well at White’s Bodyworks what it takes to restore a classic car. Over the years, we’ve helped hundreds of dedicated owners with everything from resprays to full body makeovers and mechanical and electrical repairs and replacements.
Here are our top 5 tips if you are thinking about pursuing a lifelong dream and restoring a classic car.
Before you even begin you need to think about your skill set and how viable your classic car restoration is from start to finish. Maybe you’ve come across a classic at an auction or been left a wreck in someone’s will. Perhaps it’s a lifelong dream and you have a particular make or model in mind that you would like to own and lovingly restore.
We know only too well at White’s Bodyworks that it takes a lot of work and a fair amount of financial resources for a full restoration. So, this is where you need to be completely honest.
Another issue for classic car enthusiasts is time. For some, the journey is more important than the final, finished and restored vintage vehicle. They are prepared to take time and spread their renovation over several years. Others may want to complete the classic car restoration in months.
According to the Classic Car Journal, the average time spent on restoration is 600 man-hours. To put that into perspective, if you put 10 hours a week into your project, it’s going to take you more than a year from start to finish. That doesn’t take into account delays due to finding spare parts or the right garage to handle work for you.
The other important factor is space. Where are you going to carry out your renovation? Ideally, you need garage space where the car can be stored and kept safely rather than out on the road.
In most cases, you’ll need plenty of space. You’ll also want to make sure that you’re not disturbing or aggravating the neighbours while you’re carrying out work.
Classic car enthusiasts and restorers tend to be methodical in their approach. It’s important to know what work needs to be done, in what order each part of the project needs to be implemented and what tools you are going to require.
Budget constraints may affect your schedule, of course. But the more you have your tools in place and have identified where to find support and spare parts, the better.
A disorganised workspace and lack of a plan mean that you’re likely to make mistakes, lose things and end up putting your restoration behind schedule. Make sure that, every time you step into your garage, you know what work you’re going to do.
Unless you’re a highly qualified mechanic and bodywork expert, you’re going to have a skills deficit in some areas. This is part of the restoration process that many classic car enthusiasts love – you must have the right mindset and be prepared to learn new skills.
This is where reaching out and forming relationships with other classic car owners can also come in handy. Fortunately, around the UK there are hundreds of clubs and a whole host of valuable knowledge for you to draw on. Make use of it and reach out.
Again, this comes down to why you want to restore a classic car in the first place. You may love a particular car and want the challenge of bringing a battered and rusted old vehicle back to life. Perhaps you’re planning your restoration as an investment – hoping to finally sell the car for a profit.
Whatever the reason, the restoration process is likely to be full of different challenges. You need to keep your enthusiasm going and you can’t do this if you don’t think what you are undertaking is fun.
Restoring a classic car can be hard work if you don’t have the right partners. There may well be some parts of the project where you have no option but to bring in a professional team.
At White’s Bodyworks in West Sussex, we’ve got a fully equipped garage and more than two decades of experience delivering quality work for classic car enthusiasts including fabrication, coachwork, welding and sheet metal replacement, paint and bodywork repair as well as design and assembly of missing parts.