Choosing The Right Car Restoration Project

Yes, car restoration is all about the car. So in restoring a car, you need to know about, first and
foremost, cars. A car, also called by some people as an automobile, was not invented in just
one day by a single inventor. Unlike some inventions that were credited to only one inventor,
the automobile had to endure an evolution of sorts. History shows us that from the early times
of Leonardo da Vinci’s and of Isaac Newton’s theoretical plans of a motor vehicle to the first
self-propelled road vehicle, which was a military tractor that was powered by a steam engine,
of Nicolas Joseph Cugnot, to the addition of a differential gear by Onesiphore Pecqueur, to the
additional pull on passenger carriages and to many more innovations, improvisations and
improvements that helped in producing present times cars that we have running in our streets
and roads.

A. Finding the Right Car for You

When you think that you are absolutely ready for a car restoration project, as in you are 100%
sure and willing to devout your time, effort and money into it, then its time to look for that
perfect car for you to restore. First timers in car restorations might want to pay more attention
to this part.
1. In car restoration, it is good to note what MODEL or MAKE of the car you want to
restore. If possible, list the TOP FIVE car models you want to own yourself. This list will help
you in determining your car for your restoration project.
2. Once you have your car wish list, it will be easy to gather information about the cars.
Do not be afraid to do research about your cars in every place and media that you can.
Be it in:

  • Web Sites and Web Blogs dedicated to cars and car restorations
  • Books, Magazines, Manuals and Journals about cars in libraries
  • Your Local Car Mechanic about the cars, their problems, and their fixes
  • Conversations with Car Owners
  • Test Driving the Cars themselves
  • Automobile Dealers
  • Car Auctions and Shows
  • Car Television Shows
  • Car Shops and Centers
  • Technical Representative of the Maker of your desired car

3. With the gathered information, you and your team, if you have one, have to analyze and
understand and chart all the advantages and disadvantages of each car in your list. This will
provide you with a very thorough and detailed information sheet of each car that you can be
proud of. And most of all, you are now a few steps away from picking your car!

B. Look for Solid, Not Scrap

Almost all first time car restorers are attracted to famous car brands and models and
impulsively buy those old cars, not realizing they are biting off more than they can chew. You
might say, what is the point of restoring old cars when they are not from some famous brand?
What is the point of car restoration when the car model has thousands and thousands running
around town? Or what if the car make that has been known for faulty conditions sand to being
unreliable and unsuitable time and time again? Oh yeah, an old unknown car brand is not
worth it. Now just wait a second! I think you’re jumping to the wrong conclusions there. I
never said that you, first timers, should not jump at a chance to restore an old recognized car.
My gripe was about how impulsive and utterly wasteful it would be to buy an old dilapidated car
without even inspecting what condition it is in. Sure, you’ll roll your eyes and say, ‘isn’t that the
point of car restoration’? Fixing an old dilapidated yet famous car into its glorified restored
version? Again, stop jumping ahead. Yes, you need an old rundown car for restoration. But
please, think properly and logically before you purchase any old car.
1. Car Evaluation
Take your time with the car. Inspect. Scrutinize. Take down notes while you’re at it. If you
can, take pictures of every part of the car, even underneath the car. Don’t forget to check and
even double check the important parts, like the engine, etc. Make sure you use a strong,
bright flashlight to look into tight areas within the trunk and engine compartments and
underneath the car too. You can make use of a weak flexible magnet in locating the car’s
body filler, the structural skeleton of the car. Check the floor if is still solid, pull up the rugs if
you can or slide the car seats to look under them. You can also knock on the floor, check for
hollowness. Better yet, lift up the car or bring the car to a car shop with a lift, put in the air for a
more thorough inspection.
You have to also consider the wear and tear a car can be subjected to. From climate changes
to rust, to dents by accidents, a lot of factors will affect the car’s worthiness for restoration.
2. Seek a Professional
After your personal evaluation, seek the help of a car professional. Either you ask your local
car mechanic, a fellow car enthusiast, a car collector or a professional car restorer to conduct
an independent car evaluation from your own personal evaluation. Their inspection notes will
give you an in-depth analysis of the car and other necessary information that you might have
missed during your own evaluation, especially when it comes to original car parts, matching
numbers on the engine, body, frame and transmission and such.

Compare your notes about the car. Analyze their notes. Take time to inquire them about their
notes. If you don’t understand some of the points they jotted down, ask them to explain and
expound on them. Ask the professionals when it comes to authenticity of the car. Inquire
about the Vehicle Identification Number and the other manufacturing numbers stamped on the
car and car parts. Try to gauge their reactions if the car
is as good as gold. Solicit their advices if the car is worth the restoration, if it is plausible to
restore it.
Think that you’re now informed enough to choose the right car for you? Think again.

Whole is a Sum of Parts

After you have finished with the car evaluation and rightfully so, its time to deal with the car
parts. You have to remember, since this is a car restoration project, finding real, authentic and
original car parts will be a difficult and tedious process, especially if the car is a classic or
antique or vintage class that only a few hundred or thousand were produced during that certain
period of time. Some of these parts are very hard to find, mostly expensive and most of the
time, you will have to wait for a long time to acquire them.

First, Vehicle Identification Number. Commonly abbreviated to VIN, is used by the automotive
industry as a unique serial number for automobiles. The obvious purpose was to give the
vehicle an accurate description which is in a sequence of digits and letters, when mass
production started.
Second, Identification Numbers Stamped on the different car parts. These IDs, like the VIN,
consist also of a sequence of digits and letters, were stamped into different car parts during the
time of production as an aide in manufacturing sequence. It was to verify the essential facts
about the car and subsequently, its parts.
Some cars come with an important identification plate with all the major part numbers listed on
it and which the car owner can check against the car part identification numbers for
authenticity. Also some of these IDs could be stamped not only on the engine, transmission
and rear axle, but also on some car parts like alternator, carburetor, distributor, water pump
and heads.
Third, Matching Numbers. The use of ‘matching numbers’ in car terminology refers to the
same sequence number of the engine and transmission with that of the chassis VIN (vehicle
identification number) and the rear axle/differential’s date. But for the ‘classic car purists’, it
means that a truly original, matching numbers car will have all (including the tiniest nuts, pins
and bolts) the parts that it was manufactured with. That would be very hard to find, so a
practical definition would be that all the parts would be from the assembly line at same time
frame of production or may have been replaced with authentic new old stock (NOS) parts.
Now, you are armed with enough knowledge to choose your car. Are you ready?