How to Restore a Classic Car on a Budget | Penney Auto Body & Glass Vancouver

How to Restore a Classic Car on a Budget | Penney Auto Body & Glass Vancouver

Learning how to restore a classic car on the cheap requires a few simple steps, but implementing them will take time and some budgeting. Time is an important factor since it can take around 1,000 hours to fully restore a classic car.

You may need a lot of parts which may not always be easy to find and can cost a lot of money. But we're here to show you how to accomplish a full restoration without breaking the bank.

Finding Your Car
You can cut down on the amount of work and money you need to spend on the restoration by buying a classic car that's already partially restored. You may, however, pay more upfront for this. Alternatively, you can search for a full restoration project that may not cost you much in the beginning. Always talk to other classic car enthusiasts who may know of a potential project or do research online. The key is to not rush into making a decision. The more work you have to put into restoring the car, it'll take you longer to complete it and it may cost you more than expected.

Finding Parts
You need a number of replacement parts when you restore a classic car. If you're lucky, you will be able to salvage some of the parts already on the car and in the engine. 

Contact local vehicle salvage centres in your area to see if they have a similar vehicle. If so, find what parts are available. This will be the cheapest route. Also, check online to see if anyone is parting with a similar vehicle for spare parts. This can be a good source to get parts cheaper.

Restoring Your Car
The only way to restore a classic car on a budget is to do the work yourself. You also need a full range of auto tools, the owner's manual, and plenty of experience. Talk to friends or other enthusiasts who have restored cars and might be willing to help or teach you.

How much work you need to do depends on the condition of the car, but there will certainly be some cosmetic work involved. Keep money aside for a professional paint job to finish the vehicle, although you can do the priming of the body yourself. This will help you save on the overall paint costs.

Expect to take a year or longer to restore a classic car. Don't try and rush the project. Always take time to locate the cheapest sources for parts before you buy and do as much of the work as you possibly can yourself.

How to Plan Your Restoration Project
Here are some decisions you should consider before you start working on your car:


  • Assess the car. Have you bought an old rust bucket or an accident damaged car? Perhaps it is in good running order but the bodywork has been better days. Maybe you bought a vehicle that had been off the road for a long time and needs minimal restoration. The amount of work the car needs will determine the scope of the project in time and money.
  • Decide on authenticity. You have a list of the parts you need for your restoration. How much you spend will depend upon whether you are a stickler for original or brand parts or whether you feel you can compromise on certain areas. Decide which parts must be brand name or original, and which parts you can buy at a lower price.
  • Do it yourself. Do-it-yourself projects depend on the amount of skill you have. If you are not a trained mechanic, you might have problems diagnosing and fixing some jobs. Doing it yourself can save you money, but if you need a professional to fix your mistakes it will cost more than going to the pro in the first place. If you know that at some point you will need to get a professional to help you, include it into your budget.
  • Determine your budget. Take an inventory of everything that needs to be done: auto parts, accessories, paints, tires, wheels, panels and doors, and professional help. Tally up the cost and use the cost as a guide. When you finish your assessment, you should be able to determine a budget. Take that number and add 30 percent. Most budgets run over by a small amount, but if you factor this in you will not get any surprises.
  • Create your work schedule. Work out the schedule for your actual work. Does the car need to be dismantled? If so, work from the bottom up. Remove the parts that need replacing and restoring. Catalogue them as you go, so you know where each piece goes. It is very easy to forget a nut or a bolt and end up with a spare bits. Allow enough time for each step, so you are not rushed to completion.
  • Ask for help. If you've have never restored a car before, despite your best intentions you can still mess up. If you have concerns, always ask for help. Visit restoration forums on the internet or join online forums and get advice from other restoration car lovers who have been in your shoes. 

Penney Auto Body & Glass, Vancouver’s Auto Body Collision Repair Shop, is an expert in paint and body repair and cares about the welfare of your car and your personal safety. If you get involved in an automotive accident or you're a victim of a vehicle break-in or theft be sure to contact Penney Auto Body for your auto body, collision repair, and car painting services.


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