Many of us have one of these in our garage or barn – the old sports car laid to rest after years of memorable miles. Eventually, this nagging question begs to be answered. Is it time to bring the old girl back in service?
This can be a very sentimental decision. However, take a serious look at the project ahead or the financial reality may prove to be too much. We New England based sports car enthusiasts have picked a tough environment to enjoy anything made of metal; salt, sand and time become our main enemies. We drive the poor car to the bitter end or until the local state inspection station tells use it’s no longer road worthy.
Back to the key questions: Are you mentally and financially prepared? On average restoration projects do not have fast turn around times. The rash of recent TV shows documenting auto or bike projects grossly underestimated timetables and talent it takes to comprehensively redo a neglected automobile. Set some goals ahead of time. Is this project realistic? How much of the work can we do ourselves and what will need to be sent out? What are we are looking for in the end: dependable driver or trailer queen?
Contact a specialist familiar with your particular make and model to get some insight of the pros and cons of restoration. Locate new and used parts suppliers and check availability of parts you may need if you decide to embark on the mission. Original parts for 30-year-old cars can be difficult to find. You might want to consider bringing an auto body expert to your garage to estimate cost for metal and paintwork. All of this information gathering will help you make the final decision whether to start the ball rolling or whether to embark on another route.
Compare restoration costs to recent auction prices of similar vehicles or check local clubs and Buyer’s Guides. Truth be told it is rare to spend less than current asking prices for a full restoration. Most people who restore classic automobiles do it out of passion for the vehicle and not for profit. Depending on your objective, it may be more cost effective to let Bessie lie in the barn forever and find a suitable replacement.