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Building a Classic Car from the Ground Up

June 20, 2014

Classic Car Restoration from the Ground Up

True restoration returns a classic car to its “as first sold” condition, using only original parts. The process can be time consuming and costly depending upon the age, make, and model of the classic car, but true restoration adds significant value to your dream car.

Restoring a classic car from the ground up is accomplished in 2 phases: structural restoration and aesthetic restoration

·         Phase 1: Structural restoration begins with total disassembly. The body, engine and drive assembly are removed and the chassis is inspected for structural integrity. Necessary repairs are completed to ensure functionality and safety and the frame is rust protected, and, if appropriate, primed and painted. Next the engine and drive mechanisms are examined. Parts that may be usable, like the engine block, cam shaft and crank shaft, are cleaned and inspected for cracks or warping, then re-assembled intact. Parts that normally deteriorate, like spark plugs, fuel lines, timing belts, and gaskets are replaced to original factory specs. After the frame, engine, and drive mechanisms have been re-stored and re-assembled, the mechanical components are subjected to a series of tests (pre-start testing) to determine that all parts are in road worthy, working order.

·         Phase 2: Aesthetic restoration restores the visible portions of the car, inside and out, to showroom quality.

            External restoration is completed first. Trim pieces, like mirrors, bumpers, door handles, body trim, and all body panels are removed individually and examined for damage. Dents are rounded out. Minor rust damage can be repaired by sanding the affected area to bare metal and covering the damaged area with a sheet metal or fiberglass patch. Major deterioration of accessory parts, like the fenders, hood, or trunk lid, usually requires replacement. After all damage is repaired, the body should be sanded to bare metal, primed, and painted in original colors. Window glass, head and tail lights, weather stripping and mirrors should be inspected and replaced, if necessary. Finally, chrome trim is re-chromed or replaced, then re-attached.

            Interior restoration is the final step in total restoration. The interior, including the seats, is thoroughly vacuumed and shampooed or completely removed and authentically re-upholstered. Mechanical and electrical equipment, like the speedometer and gas and oil gauges are inspected for operational accuracy and replaced, if necessary, as are the instrument paneling, flooring and wooden panels. 

Finally, after every aspect of the classic car is brought to original factory specs, it is considered truly “restored.”  

Bringing a 20th Century Classic Car into a 21st Century World

Authenticity is the keyword in classic car restoration. Any deviations from factory original specs, like upgrading the engine or adding some flames to the body paint, change the classification from restored to modified or restomod. If you are a classic car purist, this is not the route for you.  If, however, “cruisin” is your style then upgrading with some modern amenities may be the way to go.

Some upgrades, dropping in a bigger engine, switching from a dynamo to an alternator, changing the valve seats to allow the use of standard unleaded fuel, or adding a catalytic converter, make a difference in performance and roadability. Some, installing intermittent wipers or an electronic ignition system, are for convenience. Some, changing an original cloth interior to rolled and pleated leather, are cosmetic. Some, a modern sound system, glasspacks, mystic paint, are just for fun. Whatever the purpose, modifications like these change your classic car designation from the restored to restomod.

Do-It-Yourself or Have-It-Done Classic Car Restoration

Ultimately, the decision to restore or restomod your classic car is up to you. Time, money, and know-how are big players in the restoration game and it’s imperative that you are brutally honest in your assessment of each. If you have access to the necessary tools, a suitable place to work, the knowledge of how and where to get the parts you need, and the expertise to take everything apart and put it all back together, doing the job yourself can be a very rewarding experience and save you some cash. If, however, anything is missing from this equation, consider hiring a professional to do the job.

Classic car restoration brings dreams to life. Make sure that your dream doesn’t become a nightmare. Choose wisely. Tx Classic Cars has been restoring classic cars for over 25 years. Whether you want authentic restoration, total restomod, or something in between, our goal is to make your dream a reality. Contact us today more information.

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