Wednesday November 20, 2019
Taking on a classic car restoration project can be like opening up a can of worms. On the surface, all might seem well – or at least manageable – but once you start getting a bit more hands-on, it can quickly feel like you’ve bitten off more than you can chew.
We’re here to help ensure you don’t become yet another classic car enthusiast with a half-finished restoration project sat in the garage forever. Or perhaps you’ve already reached that point and you need to be inspired to get your tools out again?
Whatever position you find yourself in with your classic car, we’ve got some tips to help you get it back on the road. Our practical advice has been tailored towards beginners, but even if you’ve already got your hands dirty a bit, these tips won’t be completely useless to you.
At Lancaster Insurance, we have been proudly arranging classic car insurance for over 35 years. So, we’ve seen our fair share of restoration projects. Here’s what we’ve learned along the way…
1. Make sure you’ve got the funds
Before you invest in a run-down classic car, you should run a finance check to ensure that you’ve got enough to see your project through to its end. There’s nothing worse than getting 75% through it, only to run out of money.
But just how much do you need? It all depends on the car you’re buying and how much work is required to restore it. According to Simoniz, the average classic car restoration costs anywhere between £15,000 and £40,000.
2. Speak with fellow enthusiasts
OK, so you’re confident you can cover the cost of the restoration project and gone out and bought the car that will prove to be the vehicle for your blood, sweat and tears for the foreseeable.
Now what? Go join a club. It’s perhaps the best tip we’re going to give you today.
People who join clubs do so because they’re either like you – keen to learn – or they want to share their knowledge with our classic car enthusiasts. In other words, you’ll be able to get heaps of advice simply by being a member of a club and being brave enough to ask your questions.
The advice you’ll receive in return for being open and honest will save you untold time and money.
3. Invest in some decent tools
They say that a good craftsman never blames his tools, but if you’re trying to complete a restoration project with a handless screwdriver, you’re not going to get very far.
So, go out and buy yourself a good quality tool kit. If you buy cheap, it’s something of a false economy – they’ll be getting a good workout and the last thing you need is for them to break on you.
Depending on the scale of your project, you might have to get some electric tools. A quality angle grinder is a must, especially when stripping down a rusty hulk. A good power drill and maybe even a decent capacity MIG welder would also be welcome.
4. Celebrate the small wins
A restoration project can prove slow going. You’ve got to have that long-term mentality and accept that you’re going to have to keep chipping away, putting in the hours.
To help with that longer-term outlook, you should celebrate the small wins. Why not do a photo diary to track your progress? It’s a good way of keeping the motivation up when the restoration starts to drag.
Share you pictures on social media too, if it helps. It’s all part of taking pride in your work.
5. Keep up the momentum
It’s easy for a restoration project to lose its momentum. The longer the gaps between working on your car, the greater the chance that it remains unrestored forever.
So, try to keep up the momentum by working regularly on your classic car. Even if you just get a spare hour here and there, it’s all progress.
Sometimes life gets in the way of working on your classic, we know that – but it can also prove to be something of a relief from the everyday stresses of life.
6. Label everything
When dismantling your classic car, make sure you label all the different components. Better still, take lots of photographs so that you can see how everything goes together.
It’s also essential that you have some freezers bags (or something similar) handy for putting small parts in.
7. Be prepared to make your own parts
The availability of parts and panels is one of the most common issues for first-time restorers. You would think it’s easier to find parts for UK cars but that’s not always true.
Parts for MGs and Minis are always around – but they’re probably the exception. In fact, there’s probably more support for American cars in the UK
If you can’t get your hands on the parts you need, you may have to make them. This isn’t usually as daunting as it sounds, but it’s important to have a clear idea of your own skills and limitations before you begin.
While you may not be able to make a wing, lots of basic elements – washers, discs, plates, nuts and other threaded items – can be made with simple tools and materials.
8. Enjoy the process
You’ve chosen to take on your restoration – so enjoy it. Get yourself set up with some good music or an audiobook to accompany you while you work.
Don’t be shy about showing your passion – it’s this that will fuel your project through to its end, when you’ve got a road-worthy classic car you can be proud of.
Choosing the right classic car insurance
Even if your car is not on the road, you should still insure it in case any parts are stolen or anything else happens along the way. You can take out a Laid Up policy, which will cover your vehicle throughout a restoration, but won’t allow you to drive the vehicle.
We work with carefully selected underwriters to enable us to offer both comprehensive and bespoke insurance solutions, with our customers in mind.
Using our great experience and knowledge of the industry, we are able to quote for virtually every classic car available, even models that are hard to insure.