How Viable Is It To Restore A Classic Car Yourself?

How viable is it to restore a classic car

The amount of work and effort that goes into classic car restoration is frequently underestimated. Although we often refer to this as a hobby, a more accurate description would be a project, and not a simple one at that, as there is a lot of skill involved as well as time and resources. It is possible to restore a classic car at home, however unless you are a professional or have a considerable amount of experience, this is not advisable. For good results we would always recommend using a professional company for such skilled work.

Restoring

There are many reasons why home restoration projects frequently fail, one of which is that individuals are so keen on the idea of the project, they can over estimate their own skills and abilities. Restoring vehicles properly requires the skill and expertise of a professional. Home restoration projects often result in hiring professionals to fix mistakes that have been made, this can end up being more expensive than paying a professional to do the job in the first place.

Cost

However well you budget, unexpected costs can be unavoidable and you may end up spending considerably more than previously planned. For example, tools you didn't expect to need will have to be bought, and only to be used once. Depending on what level of restoration you want and what type of car you are hoping to restore, costs will vary considerably. Professional expertise is needed even to accurately estimate the budget of any given project, as the non professional will struggle to anticipate any problems that may arise.

Location

You will need a suitable location to work from where the vehicle will be protected from the weather, such as a large workshop or a garage. Acquiring such a location may not be as straightforward as it sounds. This is also a cost and will need to be factored in.

Tools

You will need a full range of comprehensive auto tools, such as cutting tools, grinding and welding tools. These tools are not only essential but also costly to buy. There will inevitably be times when the vehicle will need elevating, elevation equipment isn't cheap and also depends on the weight limit, the heavier the car, the more sophisticated the equipment you will need.

Safety

Safety equipment and using tools safely is also another very important consideration. A garage workshop can be a dangerous place for those that lack training and experience. Skin must be protected from heat, chemicals and abrasion. Eyes will need protection too when performing any type of job with flying debris, and anything that involves sparks or a naked flame requires adequate clothing with fire resistant properties. All of these essential safety precautions come at an additional cost.

Respray

Once again this is a job that can be attempted at home, preferably by an experienced individual. It can also be a very tricky task and poor paintwork can spoil the appearance of any vehicle. The finish of the paintwork depends very much on how well the surface underneath has been prepared, an unprofessional restore with a few small faults, can easily result in a bad paint job.

professional paint restorationThe following can cause problems with paintwork:

  • Poor preparation
  • Dust particles getting caught in the spray stream, most home garages are dusty places
  • Fibres from clothes can drop onto the paintwork as you paint, professionals only use specific fabrics to avoid this
  • Dust blowing into the work area for spraying
  • Work area is the wrong temperature, either too hot or too cold
  • Badly cleaned and maintained equipment
  • Poorly cleaned mixing area
  • Quality of the paint

The problems listed above should not arise when you use a professional company to work on your pride and joy. Take a look at our case studies section to see our extensive experience with classic car paintwork.

Time

Another underestimated factor is how long restoration projects take, they normally take much longer than people appreciate. Even for a retired ex professional, a project can take a considerable amount of time.

People often start a project extremely enthusiastic but find themselves less than dedicated later on having encountered numerous problems and still not finished. If you have aspirations of driving your pride and joy down the country roads in a few months it may be sensible to use professional restorers.

The advantages of using professionals

  • You can decide on exactly what type of restoration you want, whether it's Rolling Restoration, Street Show, Show Car, Concours etc.... (see below)
  • No need to purchase any specialist tools or safety equipment
  • You don't need to turn your garage into a workshop or borrow any other location
  • You will know how much you are spending and what you are getting for it
  • It won't interfere with your time schedule
  • A good restoration will mean better paintwork and a better overall finish
  • You don't have to worry about running into inevitable difficulties
  • You can guarantee that many hours of care and craftsmanship will go into your project
  • You can visit your project during the restoration project and have the pleasure of taking it away with you at the end!

For Reference - Different Types of Restoration

Rolling Restoration

This aims to restore the car back to being fully functional and operational, it will usually include replacing some of the parts and making minor cosmetic adjustments.

Street Show

Restoring a car back to a fully working condition, it will require body work and the repair of any major cosmetic problems.

Show Car

This is a higher level of restoration and often requires the input of a professional.

Concours

The highest level of car restoration possible to be completed by professionals, from replacing the parts to body work. Cars restored to this level are intended for the use of private collectors or auto shows, they are not, in general intended to be driven.

So, do you think restoring your pride and joy at home is a viable option?

classic car restoration sticker