What You Need to Know About Restoring and Repainting Classic Cars

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You might think that restoring and repainting a classic car is more hassle than it’s worth. However, a full-blown restoration project only costs $40,000 to $60,000, according to the Junkyard Mob. This includes buying a classic car and hiring someone else to restore it. The cost is significantly cut down when you do the work yourself, which also allows you to get in some hobby work and preserve a piece of American history.

The end product is a labor of love that you can keep for personal use or sell for a decent profit. Sounds intriguing? Here’s what you need to know to get started.

Looking For Car Parts

When restoring a classic car, a significant portion of the process will be finding available parts. Finding car parts for newer, mass-market models will be relatively fast, but you may have to look a little further for vintage, limited-edition classic cars.

Get creative too. Brick-and-mortar stores and wrecking services or auto body shops are where most go looking because you get to talk with experts who may help you find what you need. However, these places tend to have a limited supply. Garth Sundem recommends searching in salvage yards for those diamonds in the rough, especially when you have had enough experience under your belt to properly evaluate what’s classic and what’s junk. Otherwise, there are always online forums, dealers and auctions, and swap meets for those newer to the restoration game.

Keeping The Car Protected During Restoration

The process of restoration for a classic car can take an average of 1,000 hours, from stripping the vehicle to rewiring and reassembling. During this duration, keeping your car protected from weather, theft, and vandalism is essential. Consider working on your project in a weatherproof or heated garage, which can protect your parts from corroding in either hot summers or cold winters, and investing in a good quality car cover that can prevent sun damage, water spots, and external rust.

The Question of Repainting

When you are done restoring the mechanics of your classic car, then comes repainting the body. A car prepped for a paint job has been thoroughly sanded and primed for a beautiful paint finish worthy of entering shows or competitions.

Of course, repainting is also a question of necessity. Repainting your restored classic car can benefit its value, but if you plan on driving it, beware. In Sound Dollar’s guide to repainting a car, experts explain that this can also raise your auto insurance premiums. This can be a turn-off for many classic car owners who benefit from the typically lower premiums of classic car insurance than standard policies, considering how this insurance is intended for cars that are driven infrequently.

There are also rare circumstances wherein repainting a classic car can lower its value. That’s because classic cars often have a basic worth that depends on their original color, which collectors look for. As a rule of thumb: a classic car that has been kept in excellent condition with no rust spots, chips, or sun damage can have better value as-is than when extensively modified.

Otherwise, remember that cars can always be repainted to a more universally desirable color when the time comes to sell. ICSID states the cost of repainting your classic car can easily add $1,000 to the cost of restoring it, however, so you should consider the pros and cons before making a decision.

Aftercare and Maintenance

When you are done with your labor of love, don’t hesitate to occasionally take it out for a few laps down the block to prevent corrosion and rust in the vehicle. Have it professionally cleaned as well because any dirt can accumulate and cause exterior or interior damage. Common novice cleaning mistakes, like we’ve previously discussed in our Using a Sponge article, can cause more harm than good. Sponges, for example, can create tiny scratches that could ruin any paint job you’ve just worked on.

Properly care for your freshly restored and repainted classic car, and you’ll be in for a one-of-a-kind driving experience and a lifelong hobby. For more tips and tricks about cleaning and maintaining vehicles, check out our other posts on Car Detailing Planet. With the right work, your classic car’s lifespan will be secured for years to come.

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