Automotive restoration is the art of returning an automobile to its former glory; the same state of condition that it would have been in when it left the factory production line and was first available for sale. Full restoration of a vehicle is fueled by passion for the vehicle and is a serious undertaking. Many people who start the restoration process do not complete it, underestimating the time and costs involved in such a project.
What is Automotive Restoration?
Categorically, restoration of an automobile consists of cleaning and repairing the vehicle and each of its components, regardless of whether they are visible or not, so that it is in “as-new” condition. The term is only applied to automobiles which have been restored to their original condition, using replacement parts if necessary but not upgrading any of the original components. A vehicle which has been updated or modified with the use of newer components is classified as a ‘restomod’ – a restored but modified vehicle.
Automobile Restoration Process – What’s the Process?
The process is labor intensive and very expensive. Stripping an automobile down to its individual components and cleaning each part is a time–consuming process. Abrasive blasting of the frame of the vehicle is often carried out before being treated with a phosphoric acid solution to remove rust and protect against other impurities. Internal and external wooden trims receive the same level of attention as every other component of the vehicle. They should be repaired by replacing rotten or termite-damaged wood, gluing, sealing and refinishing to match the original factory specifications. Preservative pressure treatments are also used to safeguard against future wood rot. The whole automobile restoration process should only be done once in the life of the vehicle, so every element is meticulously inspected, cleaned, treated and replaced where necessary, regardless of whether it will be visible or not.
Complete or Partial Restorations – Do You Need One or the Other?
It’s clear to see that a complete restoration is a long, expensive process. If you don’t have the time or the budget to spend on a full restoration, or you don’t feel that the vehicle needs to be completely disassembled, you may prefer a partial restoration. Refreshing the interior and bodywork of the vehicle cosmetically and making sure that the engine is clean and running efficiently would be enough to satisfy most owners and would be far more economical. While all repair and restoration work will increase the value of a vehicle, the cost of a complete restoration will often exceed the final value. For this reason, it is only fanatical collectors, museum curators, and owners who have a strong emotional investment in the vehicle that decide to budget for a complete restoration.
Original Parts or Replicas – How They Affect Resale Value
When searching for replacement parts, automobile owners can be faced with the task of replacing parts which are beyond repair. The choice of original parts may not be available if the vehicle is particularly rare or the manufacturing company no longer exists. This can force restorers into sourcing reconditioned parts from other vehicles or replica parts which are often fabricated to order. These options come with varying price tags and will also affect the vehicle’s resale value, so it’s important as a restorer or owner to know what the general market value is of each component of the vehicle to maintain or protect its credence and value.
How to Get an Estimate – Find a Reputable Dealer
Choosing a reputable dealer to undertake the restoration of your automobile could present quite a challenge. Each dealer or restoration company typically specializes in one brand of vehicle or vehicles of an iconic style period. Choosing a person or company that you are comfortable working with and understands your goals and budget is a major part of the process. There are countless magazines, websites and forums which will provide direction and advice depending on your goals: “Skinned Knuckles” in the US and “Practical Classics” in the UK are two of the most prominent resources. After scanning all the reviews of a particular company, it is worth discussing in great detail what you are trying to achieve in your project and making sure that they not only understand you but are enthusiastic about your project.
Automotive restoration is a huge undertaking and should be carefully planned and researched. The final objective will affect the majority of decisions taken and it is important to keep this in mind at each stage of the project. Choosing to restore a vehicle will be a rewarding experience full of lessons and challenges. But if it is a financial reward you are looking for rather than a labor of love, it is worth researching before starting your project to see if it is worth it, particularly if your project will involve replacement parts.
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