Car restorations are true labors of love. Unless you’re looking to flip them like property, you won’t find a return for the hours and dollars you put toward bringing your dream car back to life. It requires the right tools, a garage or workshop, plenty of time, lots of skill, and a real passion for the work to pull it off. To make this easier, we have a few tips ready to help you restore your classic car without compromising on what you get out of it.
Find a Car That Starts
This one is simple: If you buy a car that already starts when you turn the ignition, you’ll have a much easier time restoring it than you would a junkyard no-starter. If you do get a car that doesn’t start, you can only hope it just needs a new battery, starter, or fuel pump.
Avoid Rust Damage
Sure, you could spend hours cleaning up rust damage, but why would you want to? Rust damage is tedious to repair and when bad enough it requires replacing several steel body panels. Depending on where the car has spent its life, you may need to strip the entire chassis and sandblast every inch of it. Even worse, you’ll be lucky if you don’t have to cut off sections that you can’t repair and weld replacements on. A few spots of rust to repair shouldn’t stop you from moving forward, but don’t take on a rust bucket. You may as well build a new chassis from scratch if you do.
Polish Old Glass
Old, sandblasted windshields aren’t the most attractive look. Buying a new windshield may seem like the obvious choice, but depending on the damage, you may be able to get by with just a polish and buff. Plenty of shops offer polishing kits fully equipped with polish, a buffing wheel for a drill motor, and arbor to clear up small scratches and acid rain spots.
Lubricate Door Seals
Manufacturers used silicone to coat the original door seals on many classic cars to help prevent squeaking and binding. If you replace the original doors, the new ones may not have this feature.
If your door seals seem to be sticking to the surfaces they cover, a light spray of silicone should fix the problem. Call the seal manufacturer directly to ask about your particular seal if you’re concerned about any damage this could cause.
Use the Right Window Molding Tools
Despite appearances, metal window moldings do not come off easily. Instead of getting rough with the molding and potentially causing more damage to the surrounding area, get the right tools for the job. You can quickly remove moldings with a molding remover, and they are relatively inexpensive.
Trim the Studs
In older cars, manufacturers often welded studs to the body to hold the trim moldings in place. Removing them safely takes a bit of technique. Never just grab a wrench or pair of pliers and start yanking. This will warp the surrounding panels, creating more problems than what you started with. Instead, take a vise-grip and clamp the stud so that the tool is parallel to the car’s surface panel. Then, twist the vise-grip in a circle until the stud breaks off. It should break nearly flush with the panel itself, leaving only a small, easy-to-fill divot.
Mondello Performance services include custom engine building, sandblasting, and more. If your classic car restoration project has you in over your head, contact us via our online form or by calling 805-237-8808.