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How to Restore a Car

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How to Restore a Car




         Step 1

This is important. You need to ask yourself: "What do I want?" this also must be followed by "What can I afford?". This is often overlooked by most when restoring their car. Answering these two questions honestly will insure that what you end up with is (1) something you will enjoy, and (2) that it will get done. Be sure to see our FAQ page. Also see my Original or Custom? page for help making up your mind. To get ideas of what you want try looking through some   automotive magazines such as Hot Rod or Car Craft.


         Step 2

Find a good project car. A good place to start is eBay! If this is your first time restoring a car find a friend who has, or better yet a local car club or the restoration shop that will be doing the work. Have them help you decide if the car if worth the asking price, and if it will fit your ideas and budget. Depending on what you want and your budget you may be better off spending more on the project car. Labor and parts can add up quickly so beware. A project car in rough shape may lend itself better to custom work rather than an all-original restoration. The fastest way to ride around in a classic is to buy a complete car, BUT buying a project insures that you get a car that you will love! What ever your decision, Corbett's Auto can help you find it & build it! Please see our Locator Services to help you find that hard to find part.


         Step 3

The car must be striped of all part and carefully cataloged. Insure you have plenty of room, a disassembled car takes up 3 - 4 times the room it did when it was together. It is very important that everything is labeled and sorted so reassembly will go smoothly. Decide what is salvageable and what must be replaced. Be sure to check out our parts catalog, we now carry restoration parts from one of the top manufacturers in the country.


         Step 4

Now the body must be stripped to bare metal. Depending on condition this can be accomplished by sanding, sandblasting, or chemical dipping. A paint job is no better than the weakest link. If the old original paint flakes off it will take the new paint with it. Eastwood has a large selection of tools and supplies to help make the job easier.


         Step 5

Now a quick talk on an often-overlooked item, mechanical restoration. This is very important especially if the car is to be a daily driver. The main components are engine, transmission, suspension, brakes and last but not least electrical. When in doubt replace or rebuild. Check out Amazon.com for reference manuals, never be afraid to look up what you do not know. The time spent reading a book will pay off in the end.


         Step 6

Now the bodywork. The most expensive paint job money can buy will look no better than a $199 Macco special on top of shoddy bodywork. It is very labor intensive but worth the time to insure that the body is straight and that all panel line up before a drop of paint is sprayed. If you are wanting something eye catchy you may want to consider House of Kolor high quality custom paint products!


         Step 7

Reassembly time. This takes three times longer than disassembly, but with each part installed you can see the car slowly taking shape. Great care must be taken during the reassembly process to insure that you do not damage or scar any pieces you spent so much time restoring. taking it slow is a challenge that will pay off in the long run.


         Step 8

Once together all that stands between you and the road is upholstery. There are many companies that carry interior kits. This is a very good choice if you are under budget constraints. For added flare to your restoration project you may consider a custom job. Call around  many times it not as high as you might expect, and well worth it if you are looking for a certain look.


         Step 9

Now its time to enjoy the car of your dreams. Don't be afraid to drive what you have worked so hard to build. A car is meant to be driven, so get out there and show off all the many long hours you put into your restoration project.


Click here to check out some great books from Amazon.com.

This is just a brief idea of what goes into a restoration. If you need more information give us a call. We will be happy to help you. We can help you with every step from project selection, inspection, to purchase consultation. We can also help you find parts and with our partial restoration services help you with the repairs that you feel are over your head. Also for the do-it-yourselfer we carry a complete line of restoration parts from Dynacorn and our Restoration supplies.


Contact us

If you would rather not be involved with all the specifics, tell us what you want and we can handle the whole restoration from beginning to end. We believe the only person who know what you want is you, so we listen, and do it your way, period.



*Disclaimer: I do not profess to know everything, and above are my views on car restoration. If you disagree with any of my statements you may e-mail me personally at: mick@corbettsauto.com.


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