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Should YOU restore your car?

Old 01-28-2016, 11:14 AM
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Should YOU restore your car?

FIRST: if you are asking this question then obviously you are having some sort of doubt, chances are you may not be capable, or willing to follow through. This is not to discourage you, but rather search yourself to know exactly who you are BEFORE you dive into a project like rebuilding your baby...

SECOND: Many people get the "restore my car bug" from watching shows like Counting Cars or Overhaulin' and they think they can just paint a car in a weekend or simply take a whole week off of work to just completely restore a car and have a beautiful show car to drive around. You can technically completely restore a car in a week, But you need the following: a plan to get all of the parts in order, All of the tools to do the job, about 100 of your best paid friends helping you, and about $250,000 for your little project. The TV shows do not really show you all of the work that happens behind the scenes, they have a few people that either look funny or have a good TV face and they get some air time. The Honest truth is you do not see the 100 or so people that are actually doing the work. Nor do you see all of the background things that really go wrong, they give you tidbits, but really not the whole story... Matter of fact, most of the TV car restore shows, I never see the main characters actually working on the cars, they might do a little thing here, or give a suggestion, but they are not doing the majority of the work...

THIRD: Here is the thing, ask yourself this question: Do I want to keep it or sell it? The truth is if you are only wanting to restore it for yourself, then go for it, the sky is the limit. HOWEVER if you plan to sell the car, then realize that unless you can get the car for free, and know how to paint, do interior and rebuild engines and Transmissions, regardless of if it is a 1969 Camaro or your beloved 1982 Camaro SC, chances are it will cost you more than what the car is worth. Expect a new or rebuilt Tranny to cost $1200 - $1500, The engine about $2500, the interior around $1000, the paint around $4000 And that WILL not include all of the little pieces and parts you break along the way... Unless you have a great example to start with (which begs the question, why are you restoring it) there will be a lot of things to make it "right". You might read this and figure you would have only $9000 into it, but that will not include so so much. You will spend hundreds on the tools, a spray gun will set you back $500 - $600, unless you can get a moron friend to loan you his SATA, you will never be satisfied with the $100 paint gun set you just bought from AutoZone, you will quickly realize that those are cheap for a reason and using them successfully has to be done in conditions that will not be met in any garage or barn, and they usually suck for applying anything other than primer.

FOURTH: If you really do not have the full gumption to really follow through, then pay someone to do it for you, the fact is most people lose interest because they get in over their head and do not know where to go, do not have the right tool, or just frustrated. Remember, this is not like this is your only job, you are going to school or you have to work every day, in order to get it done, you have to commit to a project like this, and like mentioned before, unless you are changing the belts, it will take you more than an hour to restore the car.
Remember YOU WILL HAVE PROBLEMS along the way, Guaranteed, no ifs ands or buts about it, you will get into the project only to realize that there is more going on than what appears on the surface. On top of that, when you get to this point of having a problem, chances are you will not have the part or piece to make it right, or you have to somehow rebuild it... Chances are it will take more than an hour, the littlest of thing can take you an entire day of just tinkering to make it work, and it might still not be right.

FIFTH: Can you do without the car? Be honest, A Friend of mine and myself started working on his car in 2007, it was not until 2013 that it was done and back together... Do you have another car to get around.

SIXTH: Are you willing to learn on how to paint... Painting is really the easy part, IF you have the mix right, and you have the right equipment. Just because you just got done respraying your patio furniture, with a spray can does not mean you are ready to tackle a car. Car paints (at least quality ones) are not cheap, Last time I painted something it cost me $2500 JUST for the materials. A pint of the special gray was $100, a Gallon of the clear was $350 total both parts... And if you do not know what I mean by "Both Parts" stop right there, because now you have another problem, how do you properly mix the paint? Mixing paint is not like going to Home Depot and they pre-mix it for you to the color you want. You have to blend the hardeners, the flow agents, all of the little things that go with the paint to get it to work. On TOP of all of that, each layer takes a different mix. Very very few paints of quality are ready to spray, and if it is a catalyzed paint, you have to wear special equipment otherwise it will get in you and you will die from asphyxiation, or just absorb it though your skin. Many of the new paints require not just a breathing apparatus, but a complete face mask. You can get away with the breather, but it probably is not safe.

If you are undaunted by this point, then I have to say that you might be ready. One thing I would suggest is get a friend to help you, it will go quicker, and it is better having him help you than your mother asking to move that POS in the driveway...

Hope this helps
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Old 01-28-2016, 11:57 AM
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Re: Should YOU restore your car?

We need a "Like button" feature. Nice write up!
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Old 01-28-2016, 12:33 PM
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Re: Should YOU restore your car?

Originally Posted by Bob88GTA View Post
We need a "Like button" feature. Nice write up!
I Agree.

John
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Old 01-28-2016, 12:58 PM
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Re: Should YOU restore your car?

The dream of a restored, shiny, tough running car is quickly replaced by the reality of an un-drivable car that looks more like a collection of parts.

As for problems.....even buying good cars will give you problems. Cars that sit for long periods of time (read low mile) end up having more problems than the ones that have been driven regularly.
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Old 01-28-2016, 02:13 PM
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Re: Should YOU restore your car?

Well written insight on this subject John!

Having done one semi restoration (MSE car, everything but engine rebuild) in my lifetime, it was a very long and involved job and I probably won't do it again. It is the snowball effect with one part blending into another part and so on. It can become obsessive. I love the end result but dont have fond memories of the process.
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Old 01-28-2016, 03:43 PM
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Re: Should YOU restore your car?

Honestly, I can do everything on a car, I have done it all, to interiors, engines, transmissions, axles, suspension, paint... If I could do Everything but get someone else to clear coat my car I would.... Everything up until that point (and even after) is really pretty straight forward, but for the life of me I just cannot spray clear... I rather enjoy working on it...
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Old 01-28-2016, 04:33 PM
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Re: Should YOU restore your car?

Truly a labor of love to do this more than once. It becomes a never ending process.
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Old 01-28-2016, 05:30 PM
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Re: Should YOU restore your car?

I have done it TWICE, on the same car... The first time was in 1998-1999 I put a new interior (stock appearing) interior, rebuilt the LG4, rebuilt the Trans, gave it a splash of paint. It was a nice looking car...

Between then and 2008 I redid the interior to Custom Leather, converted to TPI, rebuilt the Trans (again) and again painted it, this time to as perfect as I could muster... Now I do not want to drive the darned thing because I am afraid some moron is going to hit me...
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Old 01-28-2016, 05:51 PM
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Re: Should YOU restore your car?

Originally Posted by okfoz View Post
Now I do not want to drive the darned thing because I am afraid some moron is going to hit me...
That is something completely different! Having a car that is either too nice or too special or too rare for you to replace is a problem many collectors deal with. I have a couple of cars that I haven't driven in years and really have no love for because of that. Sad really.

If you can't enjoy it, it's time to get rid of it.
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Old 01-29-2016, 08:21 AM
  #10  
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Re: Should YOU restore your car?

I quickly overcome it when I tell myself "It has $25,000 insurance on it"

John
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Old 01-29-2016, 10:48 AM
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Re: Should YOU restore your car?

I've been involved in 3 rebuilds and one restoration (friends 75 TA 455 HO that still needs final paint). It is so easy to find a job You thought would only take an hour or two and you spend all weekend on it or more.
For me, the body work and paint work drives me crazy. Even with a straight car, you can spend huge amounts of time getting a vehicle's body ready. To get the paint to come out right you will have to, prime and sand, prime and sand, prime and sand just to get all those little dips, dents and imperfections out. It can take weeks and it doesn't seem like you are making any progress at all. A mistake with the sanding and you start all over again. A good paint job can take weeks of prep, a great paint job can take months!
As you said above, you do all that and then never want to take it anywhere for fear of someone ruining all your work. One of the really cruel things young people do around here is jump on nice cars and cave in the hood or top of the car. It happened to my nephew's 2012 Challenger. He even has seen the security video of when it happened!
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Old 01-29-2016, 11:00 AM
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Re: Should YOU restore your car?

"you do all that and then never want to take it anywhere for fear of someone ruining all your work. One of the really cruel things young people do around here is jump on nice cars and cave in the hood or top of the car. It happened to my nephew's 2012 Challenger. He even has seen the security video of when it happened!"

And THAT comes down to Jealousy!! Like back in the "car keying days." Had that happen to me on a 79 Trans Am. Buttheads.
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Old 01-29-2016, 11:33 AM
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Re: Should YOU restore your car?

Originally Posted by Bob88GTA View Post
"you do all that and then never want to take it anywhere for fear of someone ruining all your work. One of the really cruel things young people do around here is jump on nice cars and cave in the hood or top of the car. It happened to my nephew's 2012 Challenger. He even has seen the security video of when it happened!"

And THAT comes down to Jealousy!! Like back in the "car keying days." Had that happen to me on a 79 Trans Am. Buttheads.
I agree Bob, idiots always seem to pull right up to the rear of my car at a stop lights. I started leaving a space between my car and the car in front of me in order to roll forward when this happens. Of course the idiot rolls his car forward as well and he's right back on my butt! Sheesh! Funny thing is I never seem to have this problem when I'm in my truck as the idiot will get a 12 inch hitch drawbar through his radiator.
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Old 01-29-2016, 11:33 AM
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Re: Should YOU restore your car?

I went through this on my 92 Camaro RS. I really loved that car. Although it had 300K miles it was in good shape until two people ran into it within 2 months of each other. I had just finished most of the body work when the motor died. The tranny was also having issues. At first I was still ready to complete the task, but then I started putting together the price list of everything I needed done and needed to replace. Not to mention all the time it would take to do it. I wanted to drive that car ASAP but realized it would be a year or more for it to be road worthy again. It was around that same time my wife asked me to stop using the driveway for constant car repair. I sold the Camaro and began my search for a different car. I'm really glad I didn't go through with the rebuild of the Camaro. I love my Formula just as much. It needs a few things, some I will repair, some I will let others do. I would have ended up in near the same place I am now, at 2-4 times the cost, and hundreds of hours of time I saved for driving the Bird!
I should mention my wifes request was not unreasonable. Besides the Camaro I had an 80's Eldorado project that sat in the drive for 10 years while I found time to work on it. If you really want a never ending project try a Caddy. You will stare in wonder at all the parts, nuts and bolts you will take off. Great cars but they made everything complicated and expensive.
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Old 01-29-2016, 02:12 PM
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Re: Should YOU restore your car?

Originally Posted by Bob88GTA View Post
And THAT comes down to Jealousy!! Like back in the "car keying days." Had that happen to me on a 79 Trans Am. Buttheads.
Actually what they have is worse than Jealousy... it is Envy or covetousness... Jealousy is the fear of losing the affection of someone to something or something else. Envy is the feeling or idea that someone has something that you do not believe they deserve. To Covet means that you desire what someone else has.
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Old 01-29-2016, 02:25 PM
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Re: Should YOU restore your car?

Not sure if either Jealousy or coveting applies here. The kids have a thing about snap chatting it. Look what car I CAVED tonight! Its become a THING.
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Old 01-29-2016, 02:29 PM
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Re: Should YOU restore your car?

It becomes Maliciousness then. Sorry, I didn't mean to offend, I was just having a little word fun... I like the meaning of words and how we use them and how we often use them incorrectly.
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Old 01-29-2016, 02:39 PM
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Re: Should YOU restore your car?

My nephew lives near the "Plaza" in KC. It's a high end/old time shopping area that attracts lots of people with nice cars. It also attracts lots local kids on Friday and Saturday nights throughout the summer with nothing to do. They roam the area for hours. Caving, as they call it, started about 3 years ago. It was not as bad last year as it was in 2014, but still happens. One of the reasons I don't go down there on weekends very much.
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Old 01-29-2016, 03:41 PM
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Re: Should YOU restore your car?

Originally Posted by PurelyPMD View Post
The dream of a restored, shiny, tough running car is quickly replaced by the reality of an un-drivable car that looks more like a collection of parts.

As for problems.....even buying good cars will give you problems. Cars that sit for long periods of time (read low mile) end up having more problems than the ones that have been driven regularly.
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Old 02-01-2016, 11:32 PM
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Re: Should YOU restore your car?

A great list of things to consider...
I would add:
Be brutally honest to yourself as to what your car is going to be worth when you are done, and not just to you but to a potential buyer if you have to sell your project. One thing that is often overlooked is that not every rare car is worth a ton of money. Five years ago I restored a rare G Body Olds 442. I learned to TIG weld on that rare car and I basically rescued a car that should have been parted out in a local yard. I enjoyed it, drove it, had a ton of fun with it, won a couple of local car shows with it (best 80's car anyway). And when I went to sell it, it sat in my driveway for 3 months before I ate about $5000 in hard costs (not counting all of my time and effort). Even if I had gotten the original car for free I would have not broken even on the project. Don't start unless you can tolerate that amount of financial hit too. It is almost cheaper to buy a restored car then to do this yourself. I see this at local meets, local clubs and even on this forum, just because you poured $10 grand of parts, machining, and paint into a $3,000 car. Do not be surprised when the best offer on that restored car is around $8,000. Often rare cars are rare because they were a curious color or option combination that was hard to sell back in the day. Don't be surprised when that same car is hard to sell today.

If you are asking yourself this question, the answer is probably no.

Last edited by ur7x; 02-01-2016 at 11:38 PM.
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Old 02-07-2016, 02:52 AM
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Re: Should YOU restore your car?

Awesome post, too many people don't understand the amount of work that goes into a restoration. A half hour restoration tv show is little more than a before and after shot. They don't show you any of the work that goes into it.

I restored the exterior of my 89 Trans am two years ago. I'm a collision repair painter and have a couple years of experience as an apprentice bodyman before that, so I have the experience, tools, and shop to do it right. Even then, it took me 3x as much money and time as I expected when I started. Like a previous poster said, the decision to do one thing on the car led to another and another and just snowballed into a huge project. I made the decision to be meticulous and not settle for anything less than the best I could do. I figure I have over 200 hours into the exterior which made it a challenge to complete in 6 months with a full time job and a family. There were several nights of staying at work until 3 am and others that I arrived at work at 3 am to get the extra hours in to get it done. I suppose it was worth it. Having pride in a car you restored is different than just a car you bought. When someone complements my car I feel like they are also complementing me. That said I'm not sure I'd ever do it again. Its just too much work.

I would only recommend it to someone who has a real passion for their car, and a ton of free time, and is willing to learn a LOT through trial and error. Even then, it may take you years and cost you a lot, and possibly not even turn out that well if you don't know what you're doing.

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Old 02-07-2016, 04:17 AM
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Re: Should YOU restore your car?

Originally Posted by ZsTransAm View Post

I would only recommend it to someone who has a real passion for their car, and a ton of free time, and is willing to learn a LOT through trial and error. Even then, it may take you years and cost you a lot, and possibly not even turn out that well if you don't know what you're doing.
This, exactly.

When I started restoring my car, I thought it would take me a year to finish. I'd just take it apart partially, give it a fresh paint job and an engine overhaul and be done with it. Except I started studies right after and rarely had time for it. The only thing I could do is gather the missing or broken parts, and order some new ones. I painted the engine bay two years after the beginning. It took me five years to tell myself, "it's finished (mostly)".
I was also learning everything in the same time, with nobody to help me except the good people on the internet. And it was my first car.

Also, I got quite lucky with it :
- I got the car for next to nothing, and sold a few parts that came with it that refunded the initial low cost
- it's an interesting model, all original with clear paperwork, hard to find here, potential future collectible
- it ran and drove fine, the only issues showed up early : bad radiator, bad alternator, bad rear caliper, wrong carb, old alarm giving problems,...
- the car was rather clean, the rust was minimal, but it was ugly and the interior needed work. The ideal candidate.
- some hard to find original parts were given to me, and others were sold to me for very little money. Student money is hard to come by so that helped me immensely.
- I have a LOT of room to store cars, thanks to my parents buying a farm, so I could buy a parts car which was very useful in both giving a bunch of parts and also fund some of the restoration costs.

I went from this :
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To this :
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Now I've tackled the work on a '74 Formula, a much bigger job, that is closer to a reconstruction than a restoration.
I also have three '79 Mustangs that I'm putting back on the road, these do need work but I WILL only do what's necessary (rust, brakes, fluids, paint job and a good clean). No restoration here, at least not on my definition.
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Old 02-08-2016, 09:20 AM
  #23  
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Re: Should YOU restore your car?

1979 Mustang, that brings back memories, had an ex gf with a 1979 Capri Turbo. She was ok with the 3rd gens, but her family was a Ford Family, I was GM... It didn't last.
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Old 02-08-2016, 05:58 PM
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Re: Should YOU restore your car?

Originally Posted by okfoz View Post
1979 Mustang, that brings back memories, had an ex gf with a 1979 Capri Turbo. She was ok with the 3rd gens, but her family was a Ford Family, I was GM... It didn't last.
Fox Mustangs are very rare here, much more than 3rd Gen F-Bodies, finding parts is a lot harder. And Capris, I only know of two in Europe...there must be more but they're well hidden :P
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10-14-2001 05:10 PM
Bebefouch
Auto Detailing and Appearance
3
08-10-2001 08:43 PM


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