One of the most important considerations when embarking on a car restoration project is whether or not the car you are hoping to restore is worth the investment. Between the number of hours that you will be dedicating to working on the vehicle and the cost of replacement parts and a primo paint job, a car restoration project is a major investment. How can you determine whether the car of your dreams is going to be a solid investment or a money pit? Whether the car restoration project is meant to be a father and son bonding experience or a retirement project, you want to know you can see it through to the end!
Important Factors in a Car Restoration Project
If you haven’t committed to a specific vehicle, you might spend some time researching which older model vehicles sell for the best prices in pristine condition but when they are in poor condition. Another important consideration is the cost of replacement parts and their availability. Will you have to order them from Europe? Will you be able to find them in a junkyard? Consider making a short list of potential vehicles and then spending time researching the expenses for each vehicle you are interested in, to see which will likely be the most financially reasonable.
Another thing to consider: Are you looking for a car with a vintage body, or are you interested in rebuilding the entire engine? This will definitely impact what kind of vehicle you’re comfortable with restoring. Older vehicles from the 1940s and 1950s have simple, straightforward engine designs, while cars from the 1960s and 1970s are more complex. Once computers became a part of the vehicle component list, the engineering in vehicles became very complicated. Make sure, before you start, that you’re comfortable with the type of vehicle you’re working on and have an idea of where you can locate parts in the nearby area.
Assuming you have already picked a vehicle, there are few important factors that you should consider before committing to the project. First and foremost, how much work on the vehicle will you be able to do yourself? One of the biggest expenses in car restoration can be work that requires the hiring of an outside mechanic. If the vehicle is not one you’re comfortable working on, that expense could add up quickly!
Next, you need to sit down and determine your budget. If you can only allocate a couple of hundred dollars at a time, you can plan the project over a long period of time. That will also allow you to search online and at local junkyards for more affordable parts to use during the restoration project. If your budget is bigger, still try to be frugal when purchasing parts; you never know when you’ll hit a snag that will require substantial investment, such as the services of a professional mechanic.
Before you get started, you should put some thought into planning. Are you restoring the vehicle to drive in your local classic car crawl each summer? Do you want a loud and showy vintage truck for tailgating for your favorite sports team? Are you just looking to have fun? Do you hope to resell the vehicle when you finish? All of these factors will determine what you invest in and how the final project looks. After all, if your favorite color is puce but you intend to sell, perhaps painting the car a more classical color, like cherry red, is a better way to find an interested buyer.
So, Is the Project Worth It?
Depending on your skill level, restoring a car can be a major financial investment. Of course, finances have nothing to do with affairs of the heart. Regardless of what its market value may be after you finish your restoration project, some vehicles have values that can’t be measured in mere dollars. Maybe you managed to track down the actual car you owned in college, where you and your wife conceived your first child and which was later sold for a more family-friendly vehicle. Maybe you had a neighbor or mentor who drove a particular vehicle, which, in your mind, made that vehicle the most desirable kind of car in the world. Whatever the reason, if you have an emotional or historical attachment to a vehicle, sometimes the investment, while not financially the smartest, will pay you back in enjoyment and pleasurable memories in the future.
Regardless of whether you’re restoring a vehicle for sentimental reasons or because you view it as both a hobby and an investment, you should always do your research before jumping into a project that can end up being very expensive but even more rewarding. If you find a project vehicle that fits your projected budget and personal skill level, you could be embarking on your next great adventure!
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