David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
6/24/20 8:20 a.m.

Story by David Wallens • Photography as Credited

Restoring a car sounds almost glamorous, even noble: You’re going to rescue this old machine and make it right. Rescue it from years of neglect and mismanagement. Together you’re going to tackle mountain passes, enjoy weekend getaways, and watch sunsets worthy of a Georgia O’Keeffe painting. On rainy days, you’ll polish fenders and pick rocks from the tire treads.

Then the reality of a full restoration sets in. And by reality we mean the commitment of both money and time. And by money and time, we mean a lot of both.

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NOHOME
NOHOME MegaDork
6/24/20 9:10 a.m.

Perfect description of the process. Seems more aimed at the professional shop/customer experience but it is pertinent to someone doing this at home.

 

For the home builder, I would emphasize the time thing: you are about to launch into something that will require at least 1,000 hours of your free time. If this is your definition of fun,and you think that your family will let you get away with it, then god bless and enjoy. If you are doing this mainly so that you can drive the finished good, it probably wont end well.

 

An irony of this game is that oftentimes the people who enjoy the restoration process don't have a lot of time or patience for the finished product. Its just a car, and you probably already have a very competent modern car in the driveway. What you want at the end is to exercise your new skills and new tools on the next project. Money and space to get going on the next one dictate your next move.

 

 

 

Pete

TreDeuce
TreDeuce New Reader
12/20/20 7:51 p.m.

 

Cash & Commitment. 

Plan to farm it out, the restoration, plan on committing thousands of dollars. Easily a $100,+++.

  Doing most of it yourself. Plan on commiting thousands of dollars and hundreds to thousands of hours.  You just can't be as efficient with only a few hours a day dedicated to the project.  And that is where many self restoration projects falter and fail, especially if your married, have a family, and other interests.  Finding the time to move that project along in a timely manner is hard to do. And it gets harder and harder as time goes on and the dream and commitment fades.

 

Whether restoring an airplane, boat, house, or vehicle. Or building an airplane, boat, or house, you have to have it in you to commit to a certain amount of productive hours every week and forget doing anything else till the goal is met.

 

And paint, done right is the hardest, dirtiest part of the project. Rebuilding an engine is a walk in the park compared to paint prep.

 

Torqued
Torqued New Reader
12/20/20 8:51 p.m.

When I took my MGA to our nearest restoration/custom shop, he told me that I could save quite a bit of money if I could do most of the dissasembly myself.  In fact he would prefer it that way.  Now I think I know why.  Rusted fastners!  I have spent many many hours trying to remove rusted nuts and bolts without damaging the component I'm removing.  Example: The MGA has wooden floorboards and screws with captive nuts in the framework.  That wood retains moisture and every screw in the floorboards was badly rusted.  The phillips head screws would strip with an impact wrench.  Or the head would twist off leaving the broken stob in the frame.  There were moments (OK hours) of frustration, but that was tempered by the feeling of satisfaction when I finally get it right.  I guess that is why I keep at it.  It does feel good when it comes out right! 

frenchyd
frenchyd PowerDork
12/21/20 9:19 a.m.

In reply to Torqued :

I know that a restoration takes about 2500 hours for me to do*I know because I've done so many. 10 complete that I can think of off the top of my head. 
A race car project is the same amount of time even though it's massively simpler in appearance and complexity. 
The difference is between a car that will rarely if ever be pushed to its limits. Versus a car that will constantly be pushed at its limits and possibly beyond. 
A restoration visual inspection is suitable. Racing calls for much closer examination. Magnaflux  or penetrations dye.  Careful precise measuring, and documentation. In addition for every hour of track time spent 4 hours of maintenance is called for. 
        2500 hours is more than a years worth of full time work. Work done after putting in a 50+ hour work week.  Plus commute time.  
* part of that is I do everything. Including body work, paint work, engine work, I even used to do a lot of my own machine work. Upholstery,  projects that are normally farmed out. 

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