Classic Car Restoration – Reputation Is King

I spend a lot of time talking about the restoration of your cars, and instructing you how to do it so you can save money, and not have to let your car rot in the elements of the weather, but in this article I’m going to turn the corner, and chat about how you can locate a good shop to do the work for you.

If you’d like to take your car to a shop to get it restored, but you just don’t know where to start, I’m going to try to help you with your hunt for a good shop, and with that we’ll start with the shop’s reputation in the industry, now obviously the shop owner will always brag up his own shop.

So now that you have located a shop, how do you know that they do the kind of high quality work that you want on your car, if your actually at the shop, one of the first things you should do is ask the owner for a list of references of customer that have had car worked on by them, most reputable shops will be glad to provide you with a list of references.

If the shop doesn’t want to provide you with the list of customer references, that should turn on a big giant red line for you, but references aren’t the whole picture, take a tour of the shop, and look at the work being done at that particular shop, ask the owner if they have ever restored your particular car.

Look at how they keep the shop, is it clean, neat, and tidy, a real shop should always look the part, obviously where their doing work on the cars, the shop will be dirty, and that just means that the shop is busy, this is a sign that they do good work also, usually good shops are always busy, with projects that re in the shop, and project that are waiting to get in the shop.

Have the owner of the shop show you some pictures of cars that his shop has restored in the past, an owner should be proud of his shop, he should love it, and he should let a potential customer know how proud he is of his shop, and the work that has been done there, but by all rights should not be cocky about it.

The owner should love old cars, and a restoration should not seem like a hardship for him, he should enjoy talking to you about your car, he should be in touch with the car community in his city, he should welcome your business, and love your car, as not just another job, but as if it were his own car, and should pour his shop’s heart and soul in to the car.

Most shops don’t do estimates on restoration work, because they are in business to make money, and promote their shops reputation, in most cases a shop would have you sign a contract to restore your car, and this contract would tell you how payment is expected to be done by you on your car, and what is expected of the shop as far as the restoration of your car.

The contract should cover timely completion of the restoration project, the quality of work that the shop is to perform, it should cover added time for parts locating, if your car is difficult to locate parts for, you should read any contract very carefully before you sign it, if you have questions about it, ask the owner to explain what that area of the contract means.

Remember the contract should cover every aspect of what’s expected of you, and what the shop’s responsibilities are, this will make the entire job go smoother, this way the shop won’t be trying to squeeze you for extra money, and you won’t try to pull the wool over the shop’s eyes, a contract is a good way to do business with respect to a classic car restoration.

Classic Car Restoration and Dash Board Rejuvenation Considered

If you own a custom street rod or classic car, you obviously want it in mint condition. That means both exterior and interior. Needless to say the outside needs to be freshly detailed, and yet, what about the inside, most folks who have daily-driver classic cars often neglect these things. But, since I know a thing or two about auto-detailing let me give you some pointers on dashboard rejuvenation techniques.

You see, when cleaning and rejuvenating your cars dashboard, it is often a matter of preference. Some people like a shiny dashboard and they use an Armor All type product with a bright shine, others think this looks obnoxious. You don’t have to have a shiny dash board to rejuvenate it or get it perfectly clean.

Indeed, if it is too shiny there might be glare onto the windshield and this can be aggravating or cause your eyes to tire as you drive. Below are some tips;

1. First, a thorough cleaning is very important. This means getting in all the cracks, using a soft-bristle tooth brush, toothpicks (plastic or wood), and it means you need to pull out those vents, soak them in soapy water and clean all around those openings.

2. You’d be surprised how must dust and debris is around the steering column and between the windshield and dashboard. You are going to have to spend the time and do this right.

3. It is paramount that you choose the right cleaner because it is easy to discolor your dashboard, and the older it is due to those years of UV light abuse, the easier it is to mess up.

4. Never spray anything, including window cleaner onto the clear plastic area where the speedometer is, as they can easily fog up permanently.

5. For cleaning I recommend those handy-wipes with vinyl cleaner in them. If not use a micro-fiber towel or small bathroom hand towel. Always spray the cleaner onto the towel, not directly onto the dashboard.

6. Sometimes, especially if it has been a while or if you smoke, there will be a good degree of crud and film on the dashboard, so this might take awhile. If you are applying a lot of pressure, fine, but do a little at a time and make sure you are not discoloring the vinyl or coatings.

7. After you have it perfectly clean now you need to apply the conditioner. This is where you need to make sure if you want it to be glossy or just regular (but protected and clean). Be sure to read the label before you purchase it.

Speaking of labels, always follow directions, different types of auto detailing products are designed to work specific ways, do not deviate from those instructions until you’ve used the product a few times, and understand how it works, and its limitations.

FAQs – Classic Car and Classic Luxury Limo Restoration

If you’re thinking of restoring a classic car or classic luxury limo, the following FAQs might prove useful.

What is a classic car or limo?

There is no universally accepted definition.

Some people trying to sell a 10 year old car in poor condition might describe it as “classic”. That’ll be more from trying to ramp up the sale price than anything else.

Very broadly speaking, most people would consider “classic” to mean:

  • a limited, highly acclaimed and rarer vehicle of age, even those that are only 5-10 years old;
  • any vehicle over 25-30 years old;
  • any vehicle over 25-30 years old but later than 1920. Most vehicles before 1920 are called “antiques”.

Be careful that you don’t get suckered into paying more than something’s worth because the vendor has unilaterally decided that it’s “classic” or “vintage”.

Is any car restorable?

In theory, you could take say a single screw from a Ford Model ‘T’ and build a car around it. Voila! You have restored a model ‘T’!

The real question should be – “can you restore any car economically and sensibly”? The answer is, no, you can’t.

There are three aspects to this;

  • do not think you have any chance of restoring a car and making a profit on its re-sale. About 99.9% of people that try to do so end up losing LOTS of money in the attempt;
  • if your vehicle’s chassis and sub-frames have gone, then it can still be restored but you may as well build a repro from scratch in cost terms. The restoration costs are likely to be astronomical;
  • remember that if most of the vehicle has gone, your labour of love’s finished product is likely to be heavily criticised or even rubbished by connoisseurs as “not authentic”, a “composite” or a “sad marriage of disparate pieces”.

Bottom line – be sensible about what you take on.

What is the value of a restored vehicle?

Sadly, many people make the mistake of trying to assess this based upon a review of what others are asking for restored examples on EBAY or similar forums.

That method is often entirely useless.

Many online sites are full of restored vehicles that are, quite simply, unsaleable. That’s because their owners paid far too much for them to begin with, have spent a small fortune in restoration and have then added 50% on top as their profit margin. They’re then shocked when the car doesn’t sell.

If you use that as your guideline, you’ll suffer.

The only way to check the market value of a vehicle is to try and find examples of restored models that have actually sold and for how much – and not to get hypnotized by looking at what other people are unrealistically asking for theirs.

Can you find classic luxury limos for sale?

Yes, they do exist. Some providers of luxury limousines, Sydney and elsewhere, do sell of their old vehicles – if they own them.

There are other specialist sites that might also help.