If you’re considering purchasing a classic car from a classic car auction that needs some work, it’s important to understand the process involved. It’s not a cheap or easy task, but it can be very rewarding if you know what to look for.
Before you take on classic car restoration, consider the following things:
- Do Your Research
Restoring classic cars can be a very rewarding experience, but it’s not cheap. In addition to the car itself, you’ll need tools, a workspace, and a lot of time to spend on it. This is why it’s important to do your research before buying a classic car. There are a few different ways to do this, including looking up the vehicle’s VIN or contacting the car’s previous owners.
It’s also a good idea to learn about how the car was originally sold and its condition before it underwent restoration. This will help you determine its resale value and whether or not it will be worth your while to restore it.
It’s also a good idea to look into what kinds of repairs the car may have needed in the past, such as rust repair or metalwork. If these were left unattended, they can affect the car’s overall appearance and performance. This is something that you’ll want to take into consideration when negotiating with the seller. You should be prepared to walk away if you can’t agree on terms. This is especially true if the seller has a history of selling classic cars that have been restored poorly.
- Know What You Want
The world of classic cars is vast, with endless upgrades and options. However, they all fall into one of three categories: original, restored, or resto-mod. While it may seem difficult to discern which type of car is best for you, considering your goals and resources is a good place to start.
Are you looking for an investment vehicle, or are you hoping to get back behind the wheel of a classic? If the latter, a full restoration might be the way to go. However, if you are looking for an everyday driver with modern conveniences, a resto-mod might be more your speed.
Once you’ve established your goal, you can determine what kind of parts to look for. This will require sourcing authentic antique parts if you want to be as true to the original car as possible. This can be expensive and time-consuming, but many classic car enthusiasts find that it is worth the effort.
For those with more modest needs, the internet and local classifieds are great sources for finding parts at reasonable prices. Additionally, many classic car owners have found success scavenging for old, working parts from similar models. This method can save you thousands and may be a great option for those on a budget.
- Know What You Can Afford
If you plan to restore a classic car, make sure the price tag is within your budget. Buying one you can’t afford will only frustrate you and possibly discourage you. Look at prices based on condition and rarity to avoid getting ripped off. Ultimately, you want to purchase the car that inspires you and enables you to meet your restoration goals.
It’s also important to determine whether you plan to restore the vehicle to its original specifications or modify it with modern parts and technology. The latter option is often referred to as “resto-mod,” and it’s becoming increasingly popular. It allows owners to enjoy the beauty of a classic car while enjoying the conveniences of modern technology.
A full restoration is a lengthy and expensive process, and it’s possible you could spend more than what the car is worth in the end. To avoid overspending, establish a specific restoration goal and budget before you start purchasing car parts and supplies. To save money, check with local auto salvage yards or junkyards to see if they have a similar model that you can use as a donor. This will be much cheaper than buying new parts from the dealer.
- Take the Car for a Test Drive
When you’re deciding whether to buy a classic car refurbishment, it’s important that you take the time to test drive it. It’s one of the best ways to find out if it’s right for you. You can use the vehicle’s features, see how it handles, and check out the cargo space. It’s also a good idea to bring along someone you trust to give their honest opinion. They won’t be as emotionally invested in the vehicle and can see things that you may have missed.
During the test drive, pay attention to how it accelerates, how easy it is to steer and maneuver, how well it handles a curve or hill, and how the brakes respond. Make sure to listen for any unusual noises, like whistling, and smell for any odors that may indicate a problem.
Also, don’t forget to turn the air conditioning on and test how it works. You’ll want to be able to adjust it according to your needs. You can also play with the sun visors to see how they protect you from distracting glares. The little things might seem insignificant, but they can make a big difference once you’re driving on the road.
- Get a Pre-Purchase Inspection
Whether you’re looking for a classic car to restore or simply one to enjoy, finding the right vehicle can be an emotional and rewarding process. There will be high points and low points along the way, but if you do your homework ahead of time and have the proper equipment and financial resources, you can create a car that will make you proud to show it off.
A pre-purchase inspection is a detailed assessment of a vehicle done by an automotive technician or mechanic who understands the make and model of the vehicle being inspected. These experts can help you spot any damage or maintenance issues that may be costly down the road. They can also help you decide if the vehicle is worth your hard-earned money.
A restored car is a vehicle that has been brought back to its original condition using authentic parts, sometimes referred to as “new old stock” (NOS). Restored cars look and function the same as they did when they came off the production line. This type of restoration requires a great deal of time and specialized skills. For this reason, few cars are restored to their original factory specifications each year.
- Get a Mechanic You Can Trust
Classic cars can be very difficult to work on. They can take years to restore if you do it all yourself. It’s important to have a mechanic that you trust who understands your car. This can save you a lot of money in the long run.
Asking for recommendations from people you know is a great place to start, but also do your own research. Look at the mechanic’s website and see if they have any certifications or affiliations (the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence database is a good place to check). Also, google them and find out what others say about their experiences with them.
Most of the time, shady mechanics will oversell their services. Some will even do “gravy work” — billing you for two hours of repairs that only took 30 minutes. To prevent this, always get an estimate beforehand. It should list the parts they will use (you can then look up these parts online and often find less expensive alternatives), the labor, and any other costs associated with the repair.
It’s also important to make sure you have a safe place to store your classic car. This is because extreme weather can damage a car and decrease its resale value. Proper storage can help protect it from things like sun damage to the paint job and humidity rusting various components.
- Make Sure You Have a Safe Place to Store It
Classic cars require special care when not in use. From avoiding direct sunlight that can ruin the paint job to ensuring humidity doesn’t ruin various components, proper storage is vital for maintaining their resale value. This may mean finding a residential garage with extra space for storing the car or having a separate, purpose-built storage building on your property.
You’ll also want to be sure that your storage space has plenty of ventilation in case you need to drain the gas tank, run the engine, or paint the car. These activities create toxic fumes that can contaminate the air if the room is too confined. If you have to store your car for an extended period, drain the coolant and transmission fluids and refill them with the correct winter solution.
It’s also a good idea to drive the classic car only when it’s dry out. Driving on wet roads gets moisture onto the metal components, which can lead to corrosion and rust. You should also avoid cruising when the weather is too hot or cold, as this can wear out the tires and increase the likelihood of an accident. And, if you plan on using a trailer for long-term storage, check with the company to see their special handling procedures and if they have fully enclosed, climate-controlled trailers.
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