You still remember the first time you laid your eyes upon her: those sleek lines, the classic body and lush interiors. You were heart struck. And now you get to meet her again, several years later. Both of you have gotten older, but the yearning is still there.
For many car lovers, there will always be that one car that they hold dear. For some, it’s their first car, for others, their version of the proverbial holy grail that they’ve tirelessly hunted.
Some have the good fortune of finding (and buying) their dream ride in good condition. Others have to make do with an automobile that has seen better days. For the latter, countless time, money, and effort toward car restoration is a must.
But is car restoration the best route to take?
Should you restore a car?
Whether it’s classic or vintage, if you have set your sights on a particular model, one of the first things that you need to ask is whether you should spend your resources toward restoration, or if you’d be better off buying a restored vehicle instead.
There are several factors that you need to take into account before making a final decision.
For starters, you need to know your goal. For many people interested in car restoration, their goal is to own the vehicle that they have longed for and coveted in the best condition. Others see restored classic and vintage cars as an investment. Finally, there are car owners that wish to compete in car shows.
Your goal dramatically influences the level of restoration of the vehicle. For example, if you must own that specific car model, you can make do with just about any paint color and a few repairs and modifications here and there.
However, if your goal is to invest or to compete, you will have to match your car’s color with its original version.
Budget is also another essential concern that you need to factor in. From the paint job to sourcing spare parts to repairs, you have to be prepared to spend.
What are the pitfalls of car restoration?
Think you have the heart (and budget) to restore a car? It isn’t going to be easy. Along the way, you will encounter a few stumbling blocks that will test your mettle.
Recouping your investment
There’s no clear indicator that will determine whether you are going to make great returns from your investment in a car.
In fact, you may probably end up spending more than you initially planned. At the outset, you thought that you would be spending a small fortune toward restoration. But when reality hits you, you have ended up spending more money than you initially calculated, well above the current market value of the restored version. And there’s still much to be done.
To a great extent, restoring a car is a labor of love. And if you do not have the fortitude to see your project through, you will end up with a vehicle that’s halfway through restoration and massive holes in your pocket.
An ongoing process
Many car restorers say that a project is never totally finished. With older cars, especially those that have been neglected for years, there are tons of issues that can unexpectedly crop up just when you think you are about to get done with it.
In some cases, it’s a seemingly unending process of finding the right car shop to help you with the project. And along with that, the rising costs.
Quite simply, restoration work never ends. Even if the vehicle is road-worthy and ready to be driven, you will eventually end up finding something to tinker with or repair.
If you must…
A lot of people have done crazy things for love. And if you must follow your heart, there is one crucial thing that you need to do before you push through with your planned restoration — find the right car shop.
Even if you know your way around cars, at a certain point in time, you will need the help of specialists. If you find that there are specific tasks that you cannot do due to your lack of expertise or time, a shop specializing in restoration may be precisely what you need.
But not just any car shop will do. To help you find a car shop that you can count on, here are a few critical considerations.
Ask for recommendations
Your search for a reputable car shop should begin with recommendations from people you trust. If you belong to a club or if you frequent car shows, you can ask around for recommendations.
Ideally, your shortlist should consist of shops that have extensive experience working on a vehicle like yours. For example, if you are restoring a Porsche, it makes good sense to look for shops that have worked extensively on different car models from that brand.
Visit each shop
Once you have a shortlist of shops to choose from, do not hesitate to ask a lot of questions.
Set aside ample time to visit each shop. During your visit, ask the questions you might have in mind. At the same time, pay attention to the shop. Is it clean and organized? Is there enough space for each car?
How do the workers look? Do they look professional? More importantly, do they look focused and happy with their job?
Is the shop well-equipped to perform the task you are planning to outsource?
Finally, pay attention to all of the vehicles in the shop. A reputable shop keeps each vehicle under its roof clean and in good condition, not just the ones ready to roll into a car show.
Do a background check
Before settling for a car shop, perform a little sleuthing to root out potential or past problems.
Apart from performing an online search, ask around your community about a shop’s reputation. Do take note that a complaint or two can be lodged at even the best shops. However, if there is a discernible pattern, scratch that shop off your shortlist.
Put it on paper
Once you have found the right shop for your car restoration, be sure to put everything into writing. This will ensure that your rights are protected if something wrong happens.
For your love of the car
If you know exactly what you are getting into and if you manage your expectations, restoring a car can be a pretty rewarding experience. After all, how often can one end up with a vehicle that you truly love?
Ahmad Ramadan is a Managing Partner at Deutsche Technik Service Center, Dubai’s first and largest VW, Audi, Mercedes, Bentley, Porsche, & Lamborghini vehicle specialist and performance tuner. DT has also built an illustrious portfolio in classic car repair, maintenance, and restoration, as well as body work (accident repair, painting, and denting). DT Service Centre offers a full range of services: mechanical repairs, maintenance, servicing, etc.