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So....you want to restore a car huh?

Ghostrider 67
10-24-2021, 01:13 PM
On another thread here just a year old there are 973 views on the subject.
It clearly is a topic of much interest for folks here. While I'm not an expert by any means, I DO have experience and the experiences of others who have done, and are doing, this very thing. Including me.

So the answer to this question is easy, and hard. It depends on a bunch of factors that may not be apparent to the average beginner in this hobby. Through such gaping pitfalls drop many a beginner, into project hell.
Lets not go there.

So here's what I know. Just so you all know, I'm 63 years old and have done this a time or two.

You have made the decision to restore your favorite car/truck/whatever. Or maybe it's just a car you can afford, or one you inherited or was given to you. Hopefully you didn't steal it. lol.

Now what? Right? Pull the battery.
That's one of the most loaded questions out there!
It depends. On a a lot of things.
Such as:
Do you OWN it.
Is it valuable, in the sense that it's rare, one of one, one of several hundred, one with rare options, a muscle car, not a muscle car, a high performance vehicle from the factory or a street car, a regular basic bare bones roller?
Answers to these questions will dictate the direction you SHOULD take, but really don't HAVE TO take. It's YOUR car. Do what you want to it.
Anyway, let's say it's a mid sixties general muscle car of which 100,000's were produced. Nothing special but still desirable.
You must first decide what you want to end up with when it's finished.
For real. Everything else stems from that single decision.

Let's say you want to take it back to factory perfect.
That brings up other considerations, like is the one you have COMPLETE? Is it numbers matching throughout? Is it NOT rusted beyond belief?

How about you want to just spruce it up and drive it for your own enjoyment.
Is it COMPLETE? Does it already run and drive safely?

How about if you want to resto mod it with a modern drive train and instrumentation. suspension etc? Is the car COMPLETE? Do you have the skills it takes to make these modifications in a workman like professional manner? Do you have the space? The money? The time?
Space money and time apply to all other scenarios as well.

If you don't have the skills do you know someone who does? Will they work cheaply? Can you afford $100 a hour for some stranger to do it?

Do you have the tools? I mean hand tools, welders, cutters, air compressor 60-100 gallon 5 hp or larger, air tools, body tools, diagnostic tools, engine assembly tools, transmission tools, bodywork tools, a rotisserie, a lift, jack stands 6 ton and up, trans jack, engine crane etc....
ALL are things you will NEED to get 'er done. Some you can get by without but it just makes it harder and take longer.

Do you have a full time job and a family? This project will take years, not months if so. It's a long haul, not a sprint, unless your rich.

Once you answer all of those questions satisfactorily then it's time to begin.


Ghostrider 67
10-24-2021, 01:31 PM
So, your all set up, the car is in your clutches and you're raring to begin....


Seriously, stop.

You need a plan, on paper. Yes, i'm serious.
Please don't just dive in willy-nilly and expect it to all go swimmingly. It wont, trust me.
You have to write down, print up, log a plan of action with steps and everything. Yeah, I know, bummer ,, right? No, it doesn't have to be.
having a plan does several things at once for you. It helps you see where your going monetarily. It helps you realize things you may not have thought of that will cost money and time later. It gives you achievable goals so this doesn't end up as yet another failed project that will sit around gathering dust and making you feel bad.
It gives you an idea of how freaking long this thing will be in your life. It's a checklist of parts and pieces you will need to buy, and ones you no longer need and can sell for fun and profit...lol.

So, you've sat down and made a plan and have your ducks in a row now, right?
Okay, good job, let's begin.

Your car should be sitting in what ever space you have set aside for it to be living in for years to come. Once you pull it apart you aint movin it. Or at least your not going to WANT to move it many times.
You need plastic bags, ziplock freezer bags work well, bins to put them in, boxes and containers of various sizes to stash parts and pieces in for later. Several black permanent markers and cards that you can write legibly on concerning these parts so that years from now you can pick up that card and still read it. lol.
Don't just write it on the bag. If you don't print legibly have someone who does do the scribbling. please.
Leave the wheels and tires for last.
Start at the top. pull the trim from around the windows & roof rails. If you have never done this, or any other operation learn how BEFORE you place your mule skinners on that delicate aluminum trim and screw it up. Chances are it's not a reproduced part and it's expensive to replace IF you can even locate another one.
Use the right toll correctly to remove it and don't just toss it in a pile. Wrap it in paper or plastic and set aside carefully in a safe dry place. Place the attaching hardware in a ziplock bag, label it, write the card, put the card in the damn bag...lol.. and put the bag with the part, connected TO THE PART not just adjacent.

Ghostrider 67
10-24-2021, 07:58 PM
The rest of the job of disassembly goes in the same way as the rest. Take your time, bag, tag and write cards and take pictures. If you're unsure how to do something research it before diving in and ruining a part or injuring yourself.
By the time you're down to a bare shell you should be intimately familiar with every inch of your car.
Use that new knowledge to inform your plans going forward. if you're going to modify it, now you know better what will work and what will look sad.
Now you need to move forward in your plan.
This phase is the fun part.
the part where you get to create stuff. To fabricate. To make changes. To test yourself and your skills in real time.
Now, if you are a novice welder you should set up some scrap and practice, a lot. Good strong clean welds are a must in metal work.
Above all be safe. Welding can kill you. Fumes can end you. Read up, as questions.
If you've gotten this far you're probably going to be alright.
Find and join a forum or two that is/are specific to your car model so you have a resource to exploit when you have questions. Stand on other hotrodders shoulders who have already made the mistakes.
good luck!


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