There’s an undeniable sense of excitement in the air when you’re engaged on your first vehicle restoration project. This is the stuff of dreams, the chance to rebuild a personal classic you saw in a movie or an iconic motor you dreamed of when you were a kid. But take care if you’ve never taken on a hobby of this scale before. This may be your ultimate dream, but the goals have to be realistic and achievable, especially if you’re restricted by budgetary concerns.
First of all, provide garage space for the project, thus stopping the influences of the elements in their tracks. Older car models were particularly susceptible to the ravages of inclement weather because they didn’t possess the weatherproofing we take for granted today. Also, balance the real against the fantasy. Many specialist websites exist for just this purpose, acting as mediators when you’re looking for that elusive vintage dashboard or gear stick. The advantage of working on a car that’s favoured by hobbyists comes from the knowledge that you know a supplier exists when you’re looking for a part. Otherwise, you’re looking at finding a company who can fabricate the part, an expensive proposition for any amateur hobbyist. Check online forums, vintage auto auctions, and call salvage yards before taking the fabrication route. It may take time, but the odds are in your favour if you’re patient and determined.
Moving on, divide the work into stages and ask the tough questions. You’ll want to evaluate the condition of the engine. Does the car even run? What about that all-important bodywork? It’s fun to imagine a new coating of glossy car paint, but is there rust and chassis damage underneath? The best approach is to follow the advise of any swimmer, which is our metaphor of the day way of saying stick with the shallow end and begin with smaller projects. Restore a vintage interior, the seats and dashboard, or fill in a few light dents on the bodywork. Develop a list of sites you can trust for part replacements. This way, you’re learning the ins and outs of what is now a lucrative business and compiling a nice little database of places where you can buy parts.
In a way, you’ll become part treasure hunter and part expert vintage mechanic, gaining the abilities to eventually assign yourself with a from-the-ground-up restoration. Better yet, offload some of the work onto an independent garage, working with the mechanics to reconstruct your classic vehicle.